Profile of a Patent Attorney: Alum Aruna Ghatak-Roy ’12
March 08, 2016
Aruna Ghatak-Roy graduated from Lewis & Clark Law School in 2012. She is now a patent attorney at the law firm of Conley Rose P.C. in Austin, Texas.
When intellectual property law attorney Aruna Ghatak-Roy was a young girl, her mother told her she would make a good engineer because she was always trying to fix things, like the family’s microwave. One day it started making an annoying buzzing sound whenever it was on. Her parents were afraid it was breaking and they didn’t have the money to replace it. Ghatak-Roy set to work trying to figure out what the problem was, testing various hypotheses, until she discovered a toy metal plate under the microwave, which was vibrating against the bottom of the machine. Her little sister had left the plate there, supposedly trying to warm something up, not knowing how to get it inside.
Believing what her mother said – that she would make a good engineer – Ghatak-Roy went of to college to study engineering at the University of Texas in her home town of Austin. While she was focused on engineering, she spent time studying in the law school’s library located next to the engineering school. “It was always such an inspiring area to study for me,” recalls Ghatak-Roy. “I have always been drawn to the idea that justice could be served in this crazy, chaotic, and unfair world that we live in, and although I was studying linear systems or circuit diagrams in the law library instead of the law, it was inspiring to be in a place that represented some semblance of justice in this world.”
It was only after she started working as an engineer at Intel Corporation in Portland that she seriously considered going to law school to pursue patent law. “I had always been fascinated by the law, but was too timid to pursue it until after I had become an engineer,” states Ghatak-Roy. She started looking at law school and found that the only one in town, Lewis & Clark, had both an intellectual property law certificate and a part-time evening option. “I was considering trying to do both, work and study, so I was thrilled to learn that that would be possible at Lewis & Clark.” She adds, “Of course, after touring the school and getting the sense that there was a collaborative environment instead of a cutthroat environment, I felt I had found a school where I could also be a good fit.”
She found her professors and courses to be engaging and inspiring and names professors Juliet Stumpf, Lydia Loren, Doug Newell, Paula Abrams, and adjunct professors Matthew Phillips and Matt Rabdau as particularly influential. “My entire experience at Lewis & Clark was inspiring all due in part to the wonderful professors I had,” she says. The patent law and policy course she took made everything click, and later on, when she would start to wonder if she could handle patent work, she would recall the positive feedback she received in her patent prosecution course. “Patent law is tough, but it is an area that made sense to me and I was thrilled to be able to pursue an area of law that perfectly conflates my engineering background with my newly acquired skills as a law student.”
Ghatak-Roy and her husband decided to move back to Texas after their first child was born during her last year in law school. Her mother runs an in-home daycare center and “at the time, it was no brainer to move to Austin, so my son could be in my mom’s childcare center,” she says. The couple now have two boys, ages 5 and 2. Ghatak-Roy spends any free time she has reading, biking, training in martial arts, and spending time with her children. During the workweek, she is procuring patents at the law firm Conley Rose, P.C.
“I enjoy being able to utilize my engineering degree with my law degree,” she says. “I love that I can still talk to inventors and get techy with them but I’m also able to write about the technology and use skills I learned in law school to craft arguments while prosecuting patents.”
When asked what advice she would give to people considering law school, she says “Law is fun. It’s the best decision I’ve made for me, but the choice to go to law school is an individual decision.” Once enrolled, she recommends students take a variety of courses across legal disciplines. “Some of the courses that stuck with me are the ones that I never dreamed I would like, such as water law and immigration law. I learned so much by taking a huge variety of classes in different areas of the law.”
For students considering IP law, she advises to “keep in mind that environments can vary vastly amongst IP firms. IP law is not easy. Finding a nurturing and supportive environment while you’re ramping up can make a huge difference in how much you enjoy the field in the early part of your career. Be patient and be kind to yourself!”