Intellectual network: Dinner brings together female IP attorneys


By Jo Mathis

Legal News

Forty years ago, it was unusual to meet a female attorney.

Today, female attorneys practicing intellectual property law are still outnumbered.

That's why the American Intellectual Property Law Association will sponsor Women in IP Law Cross-Country Networking Events in 25 cities across the country next week.

"This is a good way to encourage women who are just starting in the field, and to let them know we are there if they need to call on us," said Anna Budde, a principal at Harness, Dickey & Pierce, PLC of Troy and secretary/treasurer of the Intellectual Property Law Section of the State Bar of Michigan.

In the Detroit area, the networking dinner is sponsored by Harness, Dickey & Pierce for a second consecutive year.

Stephanie Jones, associate patent attorney at Harness, Dickey & Pierce, said that of the 115 attorneys and patent agents at her firm practicing in property law, only 20 are female.

"So we want to increase networking among women," she said, noting that those who enter the field have a science/engineering background, which tends to attract more males.

IP includes patents, copyrights, and trademarks.

Added Jones: "I really enjoy hearing about the practices of others in the area, how they generate business, how it's structured at their firm; and how they -- especially mothers -- balance their work and home lives."

She said the mood of the evening is relaxed and comfortable, which is ideal for general networking, rather than a continuing legal education event.

Jennifer Woodside, a principal at Harness, Dickey & Pierce, has participated in each of the past four dinners. She said she doesn't often have the chance to interact with other women in her particular field.

"So it's good to network, and share experiences in the field," she said.

Budde said the the number of women in intellectual property is steadily increasing. Still, when she tells people she's an intellectual property attorney, most people draw a blank.

"So I usually say, 'patents,'" she said.

As part of the event, Harness, Dickey & Pierce will make a donation to the Michigan Girls Collaborative Project, an organization that helps foster interests in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics for girls in the area. The Michigan Girls Collaborative Project is connected with the National Science Foundation.

"It's an organization that does a good deal of work in Michigan to keep other young woman excited about math and science," said Jones. "Especially considering how marketable of a career it is, it's a wonderful benefit for the state to have something like this that encourages them."

The dinner will be held from 6:30 to 9 p.m. Wednesday, May 4 at Mirepoix, 1203 S. Main St. in Royal Oak.

Women practicing IP law or serving as in-house counsel are invited to the dinner. There is no charge, but space is limited.

To RSVP, call Amanda Stehl at 248-641-1600 by Friday or write to her at

Published: Thu, Apr 28, 2011


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