Student draws on engineering background in legal studies


By Sheila Pursglove
Legal News

Despite being the daughter of an electrical engineer, Yasmeen Moradshahi had no interest in studying engineering until six months into undergrad at Kettering University in Flint.

“I grew up around many engineers and I could never see myself doing that type of work,” she says. “However, I’ve always been a curious person and interested in how ‘things’ work.

“Towards the end of high school is when I started thinking about focusing on intellectual property law and that is what ultimately influenced me to choose engineering. I realized I’d be able to learn about various specialties but not have to be in a typical engineering job.”

During undergrad, Moradshahi worked in a General Motors manufacturing controls lab, doing programming for equipment that was sent to the vehicle plants. She then worked in the GM Flint engine plant as a part of the diesel launch team.

Knowing she wanted to eventually transition into law—a dream from the age of 10—she moved out of the engineering side of GM into the legal team, in a group that bridged the gap between engineers and attorneys.

“The team I worked in was responsible for determining the technology areas GM is currently in, what technology areas the company wants to branch in to, and the purposes of patenting in certain areas related to the company’s business goals,” she says.

With a primary focus on Intellectual Property Law and a career goal of patent prosecution, Moradshahi is grateful to be an IP law fellow at the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law, where she started her studies this fall, and is open to pursuing other areas of law. 

“Getting accepted to law school at all was such a dream of mine, so to be able to join the school in this fellowship program is an amazing opportunity,” she says.

Moradshahi appreciates the smaller size of the school.

“I come from a small undergrad, so the environment the law school creates is very comfortable for me,” she says. “I like that the teachers are accessible and actually all faculty members are easily accessible to students. It makes it easier to get to the correct source when you have questions or concerns and it shows me that the faculty values the voices of their students.”

She adds that while the legal field in general is primarily the domain of men, IP law in particular is heavily male-dominated; and that she was the only female student this year to receive the IP Fellowship, with three men receiving IP Fellowships.

“I think it was kind of ironic and funny in a way because that ratio is very much the same in the field,” she says. “I think it’s important to show other women that we’re just as capable in this field as anyone else and that there are opportunities for us to grow and prosper.”

Moradshahi interned at Brooks Kushman in Southfield the summer before her last semester at Kettering, then worked there full time from January to August of this year, and currently works there part-time during her 1L studies. She primarily assists attorneys with drafting patent applications and drafting office action responses to USPTO; she has also done a couple research projects, drafted appeal briefs, done prior art searches, and clearance searches, but not as frequently.

“Working at BK has been a great experience and I’ve learned so much since I started there,” she says. “The attorneys really care about giving substantial work to the interns, which is great because you get to work on all different projects within patent prosecution or patent litigation.”

Although Moradshahi sometimes has found remote learning somewhat of a challenge, she enjoys the extra time it has allowed her to spend with her parents and 15-year-old brother.

“My mom’s Korean, my dad’s Iranian—lots of culture in this household,” she says.

Prior to law school, she worked part-time decorating cakes at a bakery, and this remains a passion. “I pretty much bake anything, but for the past year I’ve been doing a lot of cakes,” she says.

She also enjoys rock climbing, hiking, yoga, and watching Marvel/DC Comics movies and shows with her brother. 

“I used to compete in crossfit but I don’t compete any more due to an injury and also it’s very time consuming to prep for competitions,” she says.

Born in Toronto, Moradshahi moved to Windsor, then to Rochester Hills, and now lives in Detroit, where she enjoys the atmosphere of the Motor City.

“It’s busy, there are always people, lots of different people in all different phases of life and it’s neat to be a part of it,” she says.


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