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Patent law scholarship awarded to more ASU Law students than ever

A man gestures with his hands while talking to a group of students.

The 2023–24 Lisa Foundation Advanced Patent Scholarship at the Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law at Arizona State University was named for famed patent attorney and donor Steve Lisa. Initially intended for one recipient, this year's scholarship went to four students. Photo courtesy ASU Law

November 07, 2023

A unique annual patent law scholarship has been awarded to an extraordinary number of ASU Law students.

The 2023–24 Lisa Foundation Advanced Patent Scholarship at the Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law at Arizona State University was initially designed six years ago for one awardee. This year, the $2,500 scholarship and hands-on patent law experience with the award's namesake and donor, famed patent attorney Steve Lisa, went to four students. Lisa graduated from ASU Law with his Juris Doctor in 1984. 

The four recipients are third-year law students Bailey Hopkins, Sierra Murphy, Leah Dosal and Alex Egber.

Lisa said the scholarship came about to reward the school's top patent and intellectual property law scholars and allow them to further their education in the field. Over a dozen students have benefitted since its inception. 

"The purpose is to reward the very best students at the law school who are committed to a career in patent law but have exhausted the normal intellectual property law (IP) curriculum," he said. "A patent appeals course taught by experienced practitioners puts our graduates a few steps ahead of other graduates who have taken the normal IP courses. We hope it helps ASU's graduating IP students stand out as young associates at their new firms."

Portrait of ASU Law student Alex Egber.

Alex Egber. Courtesy photo

In addition to the financial reward, Lisa Foundation scholars work closely with select faculty members, including Lisa, in an advanced course to learn how to appeal to the U.S. Patent and Trade Office (USPTO). It's training that most attorneys in the IP field don't get until after graduation.

Lisa said four students were chosen this year due to the many outstanding applicants. They have all participated in the Lisa Foundation Patent Clinic and taken the intellectual property courses that ASU Law offers. 

"It's great to be in school with so many outstanding classmates interested in patent law," said Hopkins. "Having the opportunity to collaborate with and learn from each other enables all of us to excel."

Jon Kappes, associate teaching professor and director of the Lisa Foundation Patent Law Clinic, closely mentors many law students hoping to enter the field, including these scholarship awardees.

"I am thankful to Mr. Lisa’s consistent support of our students and programs, including through the patent clinic which he endowed, this advanced scholars program and through his mentorship, training and encouragement of our students more broadly,” he said. “I am equally proud of our students who are achieving exceedingly high levels of excellence both as patent students and as professionals entering the field."

Two women talk to each other onstage in front of an unseen audience.

Third-year law student Leah Dosal (right) moderates a discussion with U.S. Patent and Trade Office Director Kathi Vidal. Vidal visited ASU Law this spring, thanks to its thriving patent law program. Photo by Tabbs Mosier/ASU

Dosal had the honor of moderating a discussion with USPTO Director Kathi Vidal when she visited ASU this spring. Now, she's an Advanced Patent Scholar. 

"A legal career in patents is demanding and can be difficult to break into as a student, so this program sets ASU Law students apart from students at other schools," she said. "We have so many incredible intellectual property professors at our school who are top experts in their field and who make learning about patents fun and engaging. Our professors serve as a guiding light to students who are unsure of where they want to be after law school."

Portrait of ASU Law student Seirra Murphy.

Sierra Murphy. Courtesy photo

Patent and IP law combine legal issues with the study of science and emerging technologies. The unique and growing field offers those the chance to work creatively and solve problems for their clients, whether they're engineers, inventors or anyone with a great idea. 

"Patent law offers the opportunity to synthesize several of my favorite intellectual pursuits," said Egber. "I'll get to continue learning about state-of-the-art technologies, and at the same time, I'll get to flex my creative side by strategizing and litigating in a way that most effectively advocates for my clients."

With four students taking part in the advanced scholarship this year, the students will learn with and from each other. 

"The fact that multiple scholars were chosen is a testament to the strength of the IP program at ASU Law," said Murphy. "Even more so, knowing who the other three scholars are, it is a privilege to share this designation with them. Alex, Bailey and Leah are students I looked up to as a 1L, and I am happy to get to know them even better throughout this year."

Lisa said the opportunity to work directly with the next generation of skilled patent attorneys has also benefited him, calling their work together "fulfilling."

"Inventors today face a staggering uphill battle to protect their inventions," he said. "I am hopeful that our future IP and patent lawyers don't leave those inventors behind."

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