Blas P. Arroyo describes his decision to attend law school at Washington and Lee University following graduation from NC State and how his engineering degree complimented his interests in patent law. Interview on September 20, 2012. (4:17)

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After graduation I went to 00:00:00.000 - 00:00:03.141
law school at Washington & Lee in Lexington. 00:00:03.141 - 00:00:08.511
I mentioned Dean Hawkins before as someone who had a lot of influence on me 00:00:08.511 - 00:00:13.765
and who was a great mentor really to me on campus 00:00:13.765 - 00:00:19.057
and gave me a lot of good direction and feedback. 00:00:19.057 - 00:00:21.613
I was talking to him about law schools and what I might do, 00:00:21.613 - 00:00:26.279
and also at that time I didn't know whether I could get into any of them. 00:00:26.279 - 00:00:29.339
And I didn't know where I wanted to live ultimately, had no idea. 00:00:29.339 - 00:00:36.269
So he mentioned Washington & Lee to me. I'd never heard of it. 00:00:36.269 - 00:00:39.605
He had lived in Lexington for a time working for Sigma Nu, the national fraternity. 00:00:39.605 - 00:00:49.705
[They] had a headquarters in, of all places, Lexington, Virginia, 00:00:49.705 - 00:00:51.767
and it was a small place, the mountains. He talked about the school 00:00:51.767 - 00:00:55.100
and he said that the law school was very small 00:00:55.100 - 00:00:59.478
and that the thing about it was the people that knew about W&L had very high respect for them- 00:00:59.478 - 00:01:04.603
a lot of people didn't know anything about them but those that did-and that 00:01:04.603 - 00:01:07.914
their graduates generally came from a large number of different places, 00:01:07.914 - 00:01:12.217
so that got me interested in W&L. 00:01:12.217 - 00:01:15.795
I looked into it and I applied there along [with]-I thought Florida, 00:01:15.795 - 00:01:19.291
being from Florida and in state, and that always helps how many students you could admit, 00:01:19.291 - 00:01:23.688
and I applied to different law schools, 00:01:23.688 - 00:01:26.745
and thankfully I got in to W&L and they were very gracious and provided 00:01:26.745 - 00:01:31.736
scholarship money so I was able to attend there. 00:01:31.736 - 00:01:35.945
So I went to W&L, and it was aside or co-equals with State. 00:01:35.945 - 00:01:43.381
It was a great experience. 00:01:43.381 - 00:01:46.652
I wanted to try something small after having been at State 00:01:46.652 - 00:01:53.330
and the small law school in particular really appealed to me 00:01:53.330 - 00:01:59.070
because at that time I could read 00:01:59.070 - 00:02:02.452
and I would look at the catalogs and the section I would look at was the section that described 00:02:02.452 - 00:02:06.325
how many seats there were in the first year classrooms 00:02:06.325 - 00:02:10.108
versus how many seats there were in the second year classrooms, 00:02:10.108 - 00:02:12.589
and if I was able to get into a law school and do all the work of a first year student 00:02:12.589 - 00:02:16.299
I did not want to go somewhere where it was planned that only so many are going to come back for their second year. 00:02:16.299 - 00:02:23.325
I wanted somewhere that was going to stick with you, and W&L more than delivered on all those things. 00:02:23.325 - 00:02:28.406
I felt academically prepared. I was concerned about the stereotypes about engineers or chemists, 00:02:28.406 - 00:02:36.503
that the English language is a mortal enemy in terms of how much experience I'd had in writing, 00:02:36.503 - 00:02:42.640
and knowing that in law school the other students-. 00:02:42.640 - 00:02:46.790
I think I was the only person in my class who had a technical background. 00:02:46.790 - 00:02:52.281
But the background of State 00:02:52.281 - 00:02:55.156
relative to the performance in law school and career, 00:02:55.156 - 00:02:58.272
it ended up having a huge effect 00:02:58.272 - 00:03:00.041
because what I do today is I practice in the field of patent law 00:03:00.041 - 00:03:03.303
which is focused and is obviously technology oriented 00:03:03.303 - 00:03:09.855
and in order to be admitted to the patent bar 00:03:09.855 - 00:03:13.031
you must have a technical degree. 00:03:13.031 - 00:03:15.287
So while what I do is primarily contested cases, litigation, 00:03:15.287 - 00:03:21.574
where you do not actually have to be admitted to the patent bar to do what I do, 00:03:21.574 - 00:03:27.322
the part that I do in the patent field, 00:03:27.322 - 00:03:29.437
in order to be a licensed patent attorney in the patent office 00:03:29.437 - 00:03:32.738
you have to have a traditional technical background. 00:03:32.738 - 00:03:35.632
So it was really the background. 00:03:35.632 - 00:03:38.758
The decision in the first place to try something technical and to do it 00:03:38.758 - 00:03:42.166
in what I felt might be a friendly environment like NC State 00:03:42.166 - 00:03:44.505
directly influenced ultimately what my career ended up being 00:03:44.505 - 00:03:48.119
in the legal field, because when I started at W&L 00:03:48.119 - 00:03:51.382
I did not even know patent law existed, 00:03:51.382 - 00:03:53.745
so there was no grand plan that I want to go and get a technical degree 00:03:53.745 - 00:03:58.512
because I'm going to pursue-as some people do now, 00:03:58.512 - 00:04:01.646
and know about it. 00:04:01.646 - 00:04:04.382
Patent law was just not very well known at the time, 00:04:04.382 - 00:04:07.418
so it's just sort of something that happened. 00:04:07.418 - 00:04:09.389

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