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Samsung’s Sponsored Law School Program

May 12, 2015

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    Changhyeon Shin, Jong Sun Park, Byunggun Min

South Korean multinational conglomerate Samsung has a company sponsored law school program in place that encourages their Intellectual Property (IP) Center employees to earn a J.D. in IP law.  Over the past few years, Lewis & Clark has welcomed several of Samsung’s J.D. candidates. Currently, three Korean Samsung employees are enrolled at the law school - Byunggun Min ’16, Chang Hyeon Shin ’14 and Jong Sun Park ’14.

After working with several U.S. patent attorneys in his role on the Samsung patent licensing team, Jong Sun Park applied to the company sponsored program because he saw it as a great way to grow within Samsung.

“The Samsung program is unique because most corporations just hire an attorney instead of educating their current employees. I think that the program originated from Samsung’s philosophy that the human resource is the most important thing,” said Park.

In fact, there have been a couple of other companies with similar IP and patent law feeder programs whose employees have attended Lewis & Clark, but none that have endured as long as that of Samsung. “It makes a lot of sense for companies to support their employees in this way. It helps with employee retention, securing company knowledge and practices, and with strengthening the company’s internal assets,” says Shannon Davis, the law school’s assistant dean for admissions.

“We have found Samsung students to be very successful at Lewis & Clark,” Davis adds. “The company’s selection process seems to be highly effective in choosing J.D. candidates.”

Samsung looks at current employee’s performances and requires them to have worked a minimum of five years in the IP department. According to Senior Vice President of the IP Strategy Team at Samsung, Hosik Jang, any Samsung employee who is qualified can apply for the company sponsored law school program. Applicants must meet the following criteria in order to be qualified: at least five years of employment with Samsung in an IP career; adequate performance reviews over the past two years; and strong English language skills as evidenced by the TOEFL or LSAT scores. The company selects a certain number of people after reviewing applications and holding interviews. Samsung also evaluates the candidate’s loyalty to the company, since it is a big investment to send someone to law school.

Byunggun Min’s decision to apply for the law school program and become an IP lawyer was based on his desire to gain litigation skills and IP law knowledge to help Samsung, which he refers to as “my company,” succeed.

Once the students graduate from Lewis & Clark, they will return to work for Samsung and the department they were in before attending law school. This time, however, they will be assigned different tasks and responsibilities, ones that require legal analysis and greater knowledge of intellectual property.

According to Jang the main reason Samsung sends employees to the U.S. is because it is a leading country in IP law. The majority of the world’s IP issues (litigation, claims, etc.) are related to U.S. laws, judicial system and patents. Also, the United States is one of the largest and most important markets for many Samsung products. Therefore, having in-house IP law experts in U.S. IP law is a huge asset for the company.

Park picked Lewis & Clark Law School because of the school’s reputation in IP law and the quality of life in Portland. “My objective in law school is to have a good legal education and training in both general law and IP law, and I strongly believe that L&C meets that objective. Also, Portland has a good reputation because of the quality of life - including the environment, cost of living, friendly neighborhoods, and public transportation,” said Park.

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