Colleen Tracy James
Mayer Brown LLP
1. Tell us about your background and career path to date (home town, undergrad and grad schools, why you wanted to be a patent attorney).
I was born and grew up through High School on Staten Island. I was a pre med undergrad at Manhattan College and had every intention of going to medical school. Someone very close to me advised me to go to law school. I hadn’t thought about it before and was intrigued. After a lot of soul searching, I applied and went to Seton Hall School of Law. It was the best decision (aside from marrying my husband) that I ever made! At first, I was a general litigator. I didn’t want to commit to IP. I thought it would not be expansive enough. Boy was I wrong! There is something new to learn everyday. I love being a litigator first and foremost. I love IP because I get to use my science background. The best part of my job is talking to the scientists many of whom are the most fascinating people I have ever met. My life is better for knowing them. Oh and there is nothing better than being in a courtroom – it’s where I feel like I belong.
2. Tell us the best advice you have received about being a successful attorney.
To be a successful attorney there is no question that you must be prepared. You must master the subject matter. Once you do that you can feel confident that you know what you are doing. You must be yourself. It’s ok to look to the style of other lawyers and incorporate some of that into your repertoire, but you can’t pretend to be someone your not. If you do, people -whether it be the Judge or the Jury- will sense it and may not fully believe what you are saying. As an attorney all you have is your ethics so it’s very important to always maintain your credibility.
3. Tell us about your favorite thing to do outside of work.
I love horses and am an avid equestrian. I ride hunters and love to jump fences. I compete in horse competitions which is great fun! My current horse, Bandit, is not only athletic- he can jump so high- he is the sweetest horse! Competing on a horse is exhilarating and a huge confidence builder. If you can jump over a tall obstacle on a 1200 pound animal – you can do anything! I also love hanging out with my husband and our jack Russell, Georgi, at our house in Bedford. We love to cook and entertain our friends and family!
4. What is a Supreme Court / District Court case to watch out for in the next year?
The U.S Supreme Court has taken up more patent cases in recent years than ever before. One case to watch is the Sandoz/Teva case. where the question is whether claim construction is a question of law or fact. If the decision changes the law to be a question of fact, it could have wide implications for patentees and challengers alike.
5. What’s your New Year’s resolution?
To build on my accomplishments in 2014 and to be even more on top of my game in all aspects of my life. To take life in and live it to the fullest and embrace life and accept and overcome the challenges that inevitably will come my way in this new year.