Karen Beckman, Ph.D., ’17 is an Associate Attorney at Merchant & Gould in Minneapolis. She handles both intellectual property litigation and patent prosecution matters for clients in the chemical and life sciences industry.
With a Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry and a master’s degree in Medicinal Chemistry, Beckman was uniquely qualified to represent her clients involved in creating vaccines for COVID-19—arguably one of the most important innovations of our lifetime. She also represents generic pharmaceutical manufacturers, which she said is really rewarding when their products get to the market. “Patent law is a great area to get into,” she said. “It allows you to be on the cutting edge of science and technology because you are working on things that are new and unknown. It’s really exciting.”
Beckman, originally of Jamestown, North Dakota, became familiar with patent law at the end of her graduate school career. She worked with a professor who earned several patents and was an intern at the University of Minnesota’s Office of Technology Commercialization. She also knew she wanted to stay in the Twin Cities but did not want to work in a lab. These experiences led her to pursue a law degree.
“Mitchell Hamline was a good school with a strong patent program, and I got a very good scholarship,” said Beckman. She enrolled in 2014 and was appreciative of Mitchell Hamline’s flexible enrollment options. After her first year as a full-time student, she landed a clerkship with Merchant & Gould. She eventually increased her law firm hours to just under 30 hours per week, while taking intellectual property courses in the evening.
The Intellectual Property Institute provided Beckman with several unique and memorable experiences. As a student in the Intellectual Property Law Clinic, she traveled to Washington D.C. to watch a hearing at the United States Patent and Trademark Office. As a research assistant for Professor Carl Moy, she worked on two United States Supreme Court amicus briefs.
Beckman advises prospective students to take the patent bar as early as possible. Passing the patent bar allows attorneys to write patents, even while they are in law school. Attorneys only qualify to sit for the patent bar if they have a technical degree. However, lawyers can still practice patent litigation without a technical degree. If you are interested in being a patent litigator, Beckman recommends you reach out to intellectual property litigators early and often.