For many years, students planning to enter law school often got their undergraduate degrees in political science. For 1982 graduate Paul Greeley (LinkedIn), however, an undergraduate degree in Chemistry from Connecticut College was the first of many forks in the road in a long career that has always focused on pursuing a passion for learning new things.
How Did A Chemistry Degree Help Your Legal Career?
After getting my undergraduate degree, I decided to follow a life-long interest in the legal profession. I have never regretted pursuing my passion for the law rather than a career in Chemistry. After my second year at Gonzaga Law, I looked for summer associate positions in Washington D.C. The firms that showed the most interest were patent firms, and these firms told me that they were interested because of my undergraduate degree in Chemistry.
After working as a summer associate at Craig & Antonelli, a patent firm, on patent litigation, I returned to Gonzaga for my final year of law school. I was accepted into the Clinic (now known as the Gonzaga Center for Law and Justice, University Legal Assistance), where I spent most of the year working on indigent matters and criminal litigations. The clinical experience opened my eyes to an entirely different aspect of the legal profession and, although I eventually choose a different career path, I believe that my experience at the clinic eventual paved the way for me to open my own firm.
What Came After Law School?
In early January of my last year of law school, I eventually took a position with the firm that hired me the summer before, Craig & Antonelli. After sitting for the DC bar examination in July, I stopped by the firm to confirm my September 1st start date, only to find out that the firm had decided to split in two.
Both groups offered me a position, but I decided to accept a position with the group that was more heavily involved in international patent prosecution. I passed the DC bar examination in a year that only had a 54% pass rate, thanks to the education received at Gonzaga. After studying for and passing the additional patent bar examination, I spent the next 2 1/2 years learning the complex issues involved in patent law and the administrative law practice before both the US Patent and Trademark Office and the International Trade Commission. I then spent 2 1/2 years as in-house council with the Standard Oil Company, learning how companies manage and exploit intellectual property.
Tell Us About Opening Your Own Law Firm
With the confidence of my experiences at Antonelli, Terry & Wands and The Standard Oil Company, as well as the practical experience gained while working at Gonzaga’s law clinic, I made a life altering decision to start my own patent law firm. Having very little money, I started my practice on a very austere budget and worked out of my house for 4 years. I was fortunate to meet some very extraordinary people along this journey which continues to this very day.
I continue to explore new forks in the road, but with a singular focus of being the best attorney that I can be. One very fortunate aspect to being an intellectual property attorney is that I work with some of the most creative people in the world, have clients ranging from ExxonMobil, Samsung, Manitowoc, Dun & Bradstreet, IBM, HP, Honeywell, Agilent, Warburg Pincus, Yale University, and more. I have a passion for learning new things and am extremely fortunate that intellectual property law allows for me to learn every day. I continue to believe in traveling down new forks in the road as they are presented, but in an intelligent way so that it coincides with my broader career and life goals. I am so proud that Gonzaga Law has been a big part in my journey.