The Hispanic National Bar Association (HNBA) and Microsoft Corporation announced at the HNBA Corporate Counsel Conference in Atlanta, Georgia a new, bold partnership designed to increase the number of Latino lawyers in U.S. intellectual property (IP) law. The highlight of the announcement was Microsoft’s pledge of $200,000 over three years to help fund the new initiative called the “HNBA/Microsoft IP Law Institute.”
The “HNBA/Microsoft IP Law Institute” is part of the HNBA’s Su Futuro Program and will provide opportunities for Latino students interested in intellectual property law, including patents, copyrights, trade secrets and trademarks. The IP Law Institute will select up to 25 law students from law schools throughout the country to participate in a week-long IP law immersion program. The costs of travel, lodging, meals and materials will be covered by the IP Law Institute.
The IP Law Institute will provide substantive instruction, hands-on practical experience, writing workshops, visits to U.S. government institutions related to IP law (U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, U.S. International Trade Commission, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit), briefings from leading IP practitioners and congressional and executive branch authorities, and networking opportunities, that will give participants a broad understanding of IP law practice, as well as provide contacts and avenues for potential employment. The IP Law Institute will be anchored by a briefing on issues in an active patent litigation case followed by attending live oral arguments on the same case before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (“CAFC”). Attendees will also receive a rare behind the scenes tour of the court and meet CAFC Judges and law clerks. The Honorable Jimmie V. Reyna from the CAFC will host the group at the court and will speak to the students about IP law and the court’s role in its development.
A 2008 study by NALP shows that Hispanic attorneys spend a mere 4 percent of their practice on intellectual property matters. And a more recent survey by AIPLA shows that in firms with over 100 attorneys, only 2 percent of IP lawyers are Hispanic. The HNBA and Microsoft are committed to changing these statistics.
“The “HNBA/Microsoft IP Institute” will focus on IP law to address the under-representation of Hispanic attorneys in the field of IP law,” said HNBA National President Peter M. Reyes, Jr., who also is an experienced IP practitioner and registered patent attorney. “Microsoft has taken a great step towards improving the quality of legal services necessary to keep America economically strong,” added Reyes.
“We at Microsoft know firsthand the sad reality of the under-representation of Latino attorneys in the critical field of IP law,” stated Horacio Gutierrez, corporate vice president and deputy general counsel at Microsoft. ”As an industry leader, we are choosing to step up and be a catalyst for change in the legal profession,” said Gutierrez.
The inaugural program is scheduled between July 7 and 12 of 2013 in Washington DC. Additional information is available at www.hnba.com/hnba-microsoft-ip-law-institute.