Two Mitchell Hamline students are getting an insider’s view of intellectual property law as members of the Jimmie V. Reyna Intellectual Property American Inn of Court.
2Ls Akina Khan and Robert Lee, students in the Intellectual Property Institute, were selected for yearlong memberships to the professional organization in the fall. It’s one of five in Minnesota and among 350 in the American Inns of Court system. This is the first year that the Jimmie V. Reyna Inn of Court has allowed Twin Cities law students to become members.
Inn of Court meetings mix social and professional networking with continuing education opportunities. Members form teams—called pupilages—that research a topic, in this case intellectually property law, and then present their findings to the larger group.
The group has helped Khan form relationships in the IP world outside of law school and taught her more about the legal field she plans to enter after graduation.
“It’s a great conglomeration of people sharing what they’re doing to improve the practice in the Twin Cities,” she said. “You learn about other opportunities like a judge looking for a clerk, openings at firms, and competitions.”
Through the group’s monthly meetings, Lee has gained valuable insight from attorneys and judges in the IP field. He’s also a big fan of one of the core principles of the Inns of Court—to improve civility within the profession of law.
“This idea of being civil when you’re arguing vehemently is a really important concept,” he said.
More civility within the practice of law is exactly why Chief Justice Warren Burger ’31 encouraged the development of the American Inns of Court system more than four decades ago. Burger, a graduate of Mitchell Hamline predecessor St. Paul College of Law and chief justice of the United States Supreme Court from 1969 to 1986, was impressed with the traditional Inns of Court in England and called for a similar professional organization in the United States. The first American Inn of Court was established in 1980.
Sharon Sandeen, director of Mitchell Hamline’s Intellectual Property Institute, is one of the founders of the Jimmie V. Reyna IP American Inn of Court. Sandeen says the group is a great resource for Mitchell Hamline IP students because it allows them to interact with people at different levels of their careers in a collegial environment.
“One of the challenges young attorneys and students face is they might go to events but they’re not necessarily presented in a way that makes it easy for them to meet more senior people,” Sandeen said. “This is explicitly designed to do that.”