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Law student selected to attend elite IP institute

June 07, 2013

Alejandro "Alex" Villegas is one of only 25 law students nationwide invited to participate in an immersive, weeklong intellectual property seminar this summer in Washington, D.C.

The event is co-sponsored by the Hispanic National Bar Association (HNBA) and Microsoft Corp. It's described as a new, bold partnership designed to increase the number of Latino lawyers in U.S. intellectual property (IP) law. Microsoft has pledged $200,000 over three years to fund the initiative.

Villegas, a 1L part-time evening student at Seattle University School of Law, said he is "deeply excited about this opportunity," particularly hearing live oral arguments at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit and learning from the Honorable Jimmie V. Reyna, who will host the group at that court and will speak to the students about IP law and the court's role in its development.

The 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 costs of travel, lodging, meals and materials will be covered by the IP Law Institute. The students will be based at George Washington University Law School for the week.

In addition to the Court of Appeals visit, 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), 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 HNBA cited a 2008 study showing that Hispanic attorneys spend a mere 4 percent of their practice on intellectual property matters. And in firms with over 100 attorneys, only 2 percent of IP lawyers are Hispanic. The HNBA and Microsoft are committed to changing these statistics. HNBA National President Peter M. Reyes, Jr. is an experienced IP practitioner and registered patent attorney.

The program is slated for July 7-12 this summer.