Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - 19

with a white-collar professional culture at prestigious law firms. I didn't
see many peers, let alone partners, who looked like me.
Opportunities, often through programs and mentors, proved to be a
game changer. They bridged the gap between my starting point - as
a first-generation immigrant lawyer unaware of the " unwritten rules " -
and where I am now. Challenging work assignments, a judicial clerkship,
and visible leadership roles helped to polish my legal and leadership
skills.
Those influences helped me defy the odds of becoming part of the 3
percent - the percentage of racially diverse women equity partners at
law firms. Without access to opportunities, my career in a competitive
law firm environment would have been left buried deep beneath the
earth.
SEEING DIAMONDS EVERYWHERE
Recognizing that pipeline programs can help bridge the gap in opportunity,
I helped launch Finnegan's IP Summit last summer as a way to
expose law students from historically underrepresented groups to IP
law and practice.
In August 2023, an inaugural class of 15 students from around the country
gathered in Washington, D.C., for an intentionally curated, multiday
immersion program that included hands-on workshops, mentoring opportunities,
and visits to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, the U.S.
Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, the U.S. International Trade Commission,
and a Fortune 500 company. The result has been astonishing.
Let's be real. Becoming a lawyer, let alone a lawyer with a STEM degree,
lies well beyond the reach, if not the imagination, of most from disadvantaged
communities. Take, for example, LaQuan Bates, the first male
in his family to graduate high school who went on to obtain a degree in
information technology from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. At
the encouragement of his college professor, LaQuan first imagined the
possibility of law school. Today, LaQuan is a 2L at the University of Maryland
Francis King Carey School of Law and president of the school's Cyber
Law & Data Privacy Association.
If life chances are positively correlated with one's socioeconomic status,
LaQuan defied the odds. So did the rest of the summit scholars.
Lalla Maiga, an immigrant from Mali, put her law school dream on hold
after obtaining a computer science and mathematics degree to support
her family. She worked in e-discovery and litigation support for more
than a decade while raising two kids, including during her husband's
deployment to Iraq. At the insistence of her mentor at a law firm, Lalla finally
decided to take the LSAT. Today, Lalla is a fourth-year student at
the Catholic University of America Columbus School of Law.
Every one of the
15 summit scholars
has a remarkable
personal story of
determination, resilience,
and grit.
They are firsts, they
are strivers, they
are doers. They
have overcome formidable challenges and will undoubtedly confront
many more. They constantly navigate spaces that lack diversity and
shake their sense of belonging.
Through the Finnegan IP Summit, they reclaimed their sense of belonging
and realized that they were diamonds. They saw and heard from diverse
attorneys and judges who candidly shared their humble beginnings
and rocky journeys to success. Everyone spoke with vulnerability
and honesty, and the summit scholars felt seen and validated.
" I was grateful and inspired to see so many people that look like me doing
incredible work, " one student noted. Another student observed, " I
entered the summit as a first-generation law student with no network,
and I am leaving with a network that spans areas I never thought I could
reach ... I will carry [it] with me throughout my future legal career. "
At the summit's closing ceremony, the students shared how far they'd
come and how the summit had been " life changing " for them. At the
end of their testimonials, there was not a dry eye in the room.
LET THEM SHINE
Looking back at my life with the benefit of hindsight and reflection, I can
see how poverty chipped away at my confidence and stole opportunities.
Through years of negative reinforcement, I came to conflate current
knowledge with future potential and verbal fluency with intellectual capacity.
Not
anymore.
Well-designed pipeline programs like the Finnegan IP Summit can unlock
the potential of hidden talent. We are already seeing results. The
students have secured jobs and externships. They've shared how their
first semester in law school was not scary because of the village they
found at the summit. The program breathed confidence and hope into
every participant.
People like me, LaQuan, and Lalla can attest to the transformative power
of opportunity and mentorship. We are lucky to have been seen and
touched by pipeline programs and mentors. But there are so many more
diamonds in the rough waiting to be found, if only people are willing to
look in unlikely places.
With a little care and polishing, the diamonds in the rough can truly
shine.
Esther H. Lim served as D.C. Bar president from 2018 to 2019. She is partner
and chief diversity and inclusion officer at Finnegan, Henderson, Farabow,
Garrett & Dunner, LLP.
ABOVE: The multiday summit included hands-on workshops and mentoring.
LEFT: The 15 law students in the inaugural class of the Finnegan IP Summit
came from law schools around the country.
Photos courtesy of Finnegan
MARCH/APRIL 2024 * WASHINGTON LAWYER 19

Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024

Notice to Members
From Our President
Calendar of Events
Practice Management
Toward Well-Being
Defending Diversity: Rise of DEI-Focused Practices
Will Law Firms Stay the Course on Improving Diversity?
Unlocking the Potential of Diverse Talent
We Belong: Black Students in the IP Talent Pipeline
Justice Sandra Day O’Connor: Her Legacy Lives on Through Us
Get to Know The Appellate Project
Speaking Up for Lawyers With Invisible Disability
Special Section: 25 Years of the Youth Law Fair
Taking the Stand
Worth Reading
Member Spotlight
On Further Review
Attorney Briefs
Speaking of Ethics
Disciplinary Summaries
The Pro Bono Effect
A Slice of Wry
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - Cover1
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - Cover2
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - 1
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - 2
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - 3
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - 4
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - Notice to Members
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - From Our President
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - Calendar of Events
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - Practice Management
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - Toward Well-Being
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - Defending Diversity: Rise of DEI-Focused Practices
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - 11
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - 12
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - 13
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - Will Law Firms Stay the Course on Improving Diversity?
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - 15
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - 16
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - 17
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - Unlocking the Potential of Diverse Talent
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - 19
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - We Belong: Black Students in the IP Talent Pipeline
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - 21
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - 22
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - 23
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - Justice Sandra Day O’Connor: Her Legacy Lives on Through Us
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - 25
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - Get to Know The Appellate Project
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - 27
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - Speaking Up for Lawyers With Invisible Disability
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - 29
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - 30
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - 31
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - Special Section: 25 Years of the Youth Law Fair
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - 33
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - Taking the Stand
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - 35
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - 36
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - Worth Reading
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - Member Spotlight
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - 39
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - On Further Review
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - Attorney Briefs
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - Speaking of Ethics
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - 43
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - Disciplinary Summaries
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - 45
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - The Pro Bono Effect
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - 47
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - A Slice of Wry
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - Cover3
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - Cover4
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