The Women to Watch Series was established by the Women in IP Committee as an avenue to recognize women within the AIPLA community for excellence and accomplishments. Through a peer-nomination process, the Women to Watch Series strives to honor women who have created their own paths, who lead through strong examples, and who are achieving successes as a result of their choices and leadership, but who may not be widely known in the AIPLA community.
We are pleased to introduce Lisa Ferri, in her own words:
Years working in IP:
Years with current organization:
Mayer Brown LLP
1221 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY
Partner and Head of the NY Intellectual Property Group of Mayer Brown LLP; Co-Chair of the Mayer Brown Women’s Leadership Committee
What I do:
I am a litigator and trial attorney representing global pharmaceutical companies in high stakes patent litigation before various courts throughout the country. I help these companies protect new technologies and life-saving products for the treatment of HIV/AIDS, cancer and autoimmune diseases, to name just a few. I also have administrative roles within my law firm, heading up the New York IP group, which has experienced explosive growth in the past several years, and serving as co-chair of both the New York office’s Women’s Forum and the global Women’s Leadership Committee. I am also an adjunct Professor at Fordham University School of Law, where I teach Patent Litigation.
I have been practicing law for over twenty-five years. Prior to entering private practice I clerked for Chief Judge Edward Re of the U.S. Court of International Trade.
Years and involvement with AIPLA:
I have been a member of AIPLA (on and off) throughout my career. I was very proud to have one of my partners, Sharon Israel, serve as the President recently. Our firm has sponsored a number of AIPLA events and we were able to boost our Mayer Brown enrollment.
What was the best professional decision you ever made?
I began my career as an associate in the litigation group of a large New York City law firm working on various corporate and securities related litigations. When a patent litigation came into the office involving the early HIV/AIDs drug AZT in one of the first patent challenges brought under the Hatch-Waxman statutes, I jumped at the chance to work on it. I quickly followed that up with another patent case involving nicotine patches. I enjoyed the challenge presented by the necessity to distill, for a non-technical judge or jury, the complexity of the science and substantive patent law so much so that I left the firm and joined a small IP boutique in order to specialize in this field.
I’m now working on cutting-edge pharma and biotech patent litigation and have been on the front lines of defining the law in the area of biotechnology patent law by helping to protect new antibody therapies. Biologic therapies are the new frontier in the life sciences field, with many of the largest pharmaceutical companies expanding into this key market.
I’m very happy that I explored a different path, as it has turned out to be a very rewarding career.
What was the worst professional decision you ever made?
Professionally speaking, I have very few regrets—I am very fortunate to have a wonderful career. One thing that I might do differently, however, is to begin building my practice earlier in my career. As a young lawyer, I believed that it was important to build my experience and competency first, and then the business would follow. I now know that you need to start developing your network of potential business contacts from the very beginning of your career as it takes years to build a relationship that may grow into business.
What would you consider your greatest professional achievement so far?
As a partner: building a successful and wide-ranging life sciences practice, representing some of the worlds’ largest innovators in the bio-pharmaceutical field. As a Practice Leader: cultivating a diverse and collaborative IP office, with equal numbers of men and women associates and partners.
In your opinion, what could women be doing better to advance their careers?
I think that women should begin building their “brand” and network early in their careers. Frankly, women should begin while they are in law school to maintain friendships and relationships and build from there throughout their careers. Your classmates, colleagues and contacts may one day become clients, so it is never too early to start building relationships that may grow into a future business opportunities.
What is the best advice you have received?
Create your own path to success—you don’t need to follow the same route as others in your field. This is particularly important for women litigators, as there are many styles and ways to be effective. It’s more important to be true to yourself.
More about Lisa:
If they bottled my personality, the label would read:
Zen-like surface masks an ambitious, indefatigable advocate at core.
Something I said I’d never do, but did anyway:
Teared up for days when my first child left for college.
One thing people are surprised to find out about me:
I spent a college semester in Jordan studying Arabic.