Ravi Fernando, ‘09, ‘15 J.D. was first drawn to patent law by a desire to learn about a variety of technologies. An electrical engineering major during his undergraduate studies at Notre Dame, he spent the summer after his junior year in his home state of Arizona interning for Intel and an Arizona State University research institute. Though Fernando enjoyed learning about technology in his engineering classes, he soon found that a career as an engineer was not the right fit for him. He started looking for other options.
A meeting with a family friend, an attorney, changed his career trajectory. The family friend suggested that Fernando look into patent law, and in particular patent litigation. Fernando learned that in each new case, patent litigators would dive in and learn all they could about the relevant technology. In addition, the variety of experiences and fast pace sounded exciting. As a result, Fernando was drawn to law school and patent litigation. Much of what Fernando heard about patent litigation while in law school and early in his career remains true today. He finds the competitive aspect of litigation exciting and rewarding, but also notes that it fosters collegiality. In his practice with Alston & Bird, Fernando has developed a niche representing telecommunications companies, such as Nokia and Verizon. Interviewing expert witnesses, who are often academics in the relevant field, and talking to engineers about the relevant technology in a case is one of the most enjoyable parts of his practice.
Fernando’s first exposure to such interviews was in the IP Clinic at Notre Dame Law School. “In the Clinic directed by Professor Jodi Clifford, I had the opportunity to interview professors who were creating their own inventions, to sit and learn from them and explore what may be patentable and what might not be patentable,” Fernando shared.
He also had the opportunity to work as Professor Stephen Yelderman’s research assistant during his 1L summer. Fernando helped Professor Yelderman research ways to incentivize patent applicants to file better quality applications, and Professor Yelderman eventually published this work in the Harvard Journal of Law & Technology in an article titled Improving Patent Quality with Applicant Incentives.
Observing that writing is a critical talent to hone for later practice, Fernando advises students to read as many books as possible about writing. In addition, if students are interested in patent litigation, Fernando suggests they consider clerking after law school. Patent litigation suits are often settled, Fernando shared, and “a clerkship can give you exposure to much of what happens in a courtroom.”