Tech Students Explore the World of Law
Left to right: Edouard Goguillon, Shekinah Hall, Mary Kat Kennedy, and Zachary Shear.
The summer semester is in full swing, and many students are starting to settle into their internships for the season. This year, several Tech students have decided to take this time to pursue their interest in law, working across the legal spectrum — from patent and intellectual property law to the nonprofit sector to working as paralegal assistant.
Mary Kat Kennedy, a rising fifth-year mechanical engineering major, and Zachary Shear, a rising fourth-year mechanical engineering major, are both participating in the EDGE Internship with Michael Best & Friedrich LLP. Since the Patent Bar Exam requires that those who take it either have majored in STEM or taken an appropriate number of related classes, the EDGE internship allows science and engineering students with an interest in intellectual property and patent law to work in an actual law office.
Kennedy and Shear didn’t think they would be going into patent law when they started college. It wasn’t until they were exposed to the world of law — Shear in meeting with a patent attorney during his co-op, and Kennedy in watching her sister start law school — that they saw it as a potential career path.
Edouard Goguillon, a rising third-year international affairs major, has a longer history with law, having been interested in it since he joined his high school’s mock trial team in ninth grade. He currently works as a paralegal assistant for Martenson, Hasbrouck & Simon LLP, where he also interned last summer.
“In general, I think my passion for law comes from a drive to seek justice,” Goguillon said. “I believe everyone should be treated equally, should be held accountable for their actions, and has a right to be heard.”
Some students have found internships that let them explore their interest in law but aren’t centered entirely around legal work. Shekinah Hall, a rising fifth-year public policy major, is spending her summer with The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights in Washington, D.C.
“Given my background in public policy and interest in constitutional and civil rights law, I wanted to explore the overlap between the two and work on policy initiatives that addressed civil rights issues,” she said.
Hall works on various projects with two issue teams — education and justice reform. She also works with other departments, including communications and special topics.
Though their summers are just getting started, the interns see huge rewards from these experiences on the horizon.
For Kennedy and Shear, the change from a more engineering-focused organization to a law office gave them a better idea of what to expect as they pursue careers in intellectual property and patent litigation.
“It really cements the strict schedule and fast-paced way that patent prosecution works,” said Kennedy.
Goguillon agrees, so far.
“Just being in the environment has allowed me to learn so much about what being a lawyer really is,” he said. “I have been working [here] for a year and a half now, but I remember that in the beginning I learned the most simply by listening to conversations between two lawyers, or a lawyer on the phone with a client.”
Shear also values the opportunity to learn how to communicate the ins and outs of new technologies in patent applications.
“If I were to pick one specific skill to highlight as the most valuable, it would be the ability to understand complicated technologies that I haven’t seen before and describe them clearly enough so that others can understand them,” he said.
While Georgia Tech doesn’t have a pre-law major, there are still several ways for those interested in the field to get involved. The School of Public Policy offers both a law, science, and technology minor and a pre-law certificate. There are also several pre-professional advising programs through the Center for Career Discovery and Development.