“Seeing how the judges interact with each other and what factors they consider during hearings is an opportunity you just can’t find anywhere else.”
A day in the life of a PTAB judicial law clerk
Isha S. is a South Carolina native who attended the University of South Carolina for Biomedical Engineering as an undergraduate. She then headed to the nation’s capital to attend law school at the George Washington University.
Now she serves as a judicial law clerk for the Patent Trial and Appeal Board at the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). “The ability to closely work with Administrative Patent Judges is what first attracted me to the role,” she explains.
Isha resides in Alexandria, Virginia, near the USPTO’s national headquarters. Typically, she starts her day by reviewing emails and any new messages. After that, she begins to tackle the cases she’s assigned to in order of priority. Isha then eats lunch while working on lower priority items. And because the judges she works for champion work-life balance, she’s able to log off at a reasonable hour every day.
As a law clerk, Isha drafts decisions and orders for Administrative Patent Judges (APJs). The patent law classes she took in law school provided her a foundation for understanding the basic issues in various cases. Her legal research and writing classes have also proven integral in her work.
When she first began her role, Isha received training that helped ease her anxiety. “The USPTO provided over a week of training that went over everything I needed to know to be successful in my clerkship. It provided detailed resources, as well as opportunities to familiarize myself with the individuals I would be working with,” she says.
Experience behind the scenes
Isha enjoys learning what she describes as the “ins and outs” and “behind-the-scenes action” of PTAB proceedings from the APJs themselves. “Seeing how the judges interact with each other and what factors they consider during hearings is an opportunity you just can’t find anywhere else,” shares Isha.
For example, she recently drafted several orders dealing with motions to seal. The judge she was working with provided previous orders as examples. “This was especially helpful because I was able to determine what kinds of information needed to be addressed previously and efficiently tailor that to my own research process,” she says.
She also attended several hearings, including one she describes as “incredibly interesting” because she got to work on an order expunging exhibits and the claim construction issue in the case.
Kind and understanding colleagues at work
Isha’s favorite part of working at the USPTO is the people, particularly being able to work with patent law experts. “I have yet to meet someone who is not kind and understanding at the USPTO,” she explains. “It’s a wonderful place to work. Other employees are always willing to share knowledge, provide guidance, and answer every question you may have.”
“Working directly with APJs has been amazing. They give me in-depth and personalized feedback on my legal writing, as well as insight on their own career paths that have helped me tailor my career aspirations,” she describes.
Once her clerkship ends, Isha plans to work in the District of Columbia in patent litigation.