Editors’ Note: In the latest installment of our ongoing Faces of MoFo series, New York associate Eric Lin shares his unique path to MoFo.
My journey to MoFo was in no way predictable or conventional. I was born in Lexington, Kentucky to Taiwanese immigrants, and didn’t live anywhere else until I moved nearly 2,500 miles to Stanford for college. Spending 18 years in Kentucky grounded my sense of identity and background. Like many in the commonwealth, I came to love Kentucky basketball and learned to partake in other Kentucky traditions like celebrating Derby Day, visiting state parks, and eventually, appreciating the taste and history of bourbon whiskey. But I was noticeably a minority. Although my family was not the only Asian American family in Lexington, there were so few in the 1990s and early 2000s that it was highly likely we personally knew the Asian Americans that we bumped into in public spaces (e.g., supermarket, shopping mall). My classmates in K-12 were also understandably curious about the ethnic and cultural differences between myself and them and, as a kid, I was often left asking my parents how I could answer certain questions on those subjects. With that context, I was inspired to better understand my heritage and cultural background as a Taiwanese American and more broadly an Asian American so that I could do my part to raise awareness, teach others, and build communities. That carried into my college, law school, and professional experiences, including my current involvement with the Asian American Affinity Group (AAAG) in our New York office and my participation (with MoFo’s support) in invaluable programs and events organized by the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association and Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund.
I was never destined to be a lawyer, let alone one at MoFo. My parents both had business and economics backgrounds, and there were no other lawyers in my family or extended family. Relevant to today, my academic interest for almost a decade was actually in infectious diseases. At a relatively young age, and no doubt inspired by movies like Outbreak, I wanted to learn and study more about the mechanisms of submicroscopic pathogens and how they widely impact not only the health of people around the world but also society and the economy just like COVID-19 has done to the world in 2020. I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to pursue basic science research in furtherance of this interest. In high school, I worked at a virology lab for two years at the University of Kentucky studying herpes simplex virus type 1 (oral herpes). In college, I worked at another virology lab at Stanford for three years looking at varicella-zoster virus (chickenpox/shingles). I was later able to broaden my work to infectious diseases policy. I spent a summer at the College of Public Health at National Taiwan University examining country-level pandemic preparedness during the time of swine flu (circa 2008–2009) and prior to law school, worked at amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research in budget and appropriations advocacy for federal global health programs (e.g., AIDS, malaria, TB).
Although not directly relevant to my current career trajectory, my time spent at a basic science lab conducting in vitro studies in a cell culture hood, working through the scientific method on complex scientific issues, teaming with bright individuals in diverse settings (e.g., Kentucky, California, Washington, D.C., Taiwan), and writing and presenting policy position papers for stakeholders in the federal government has been easily transferrable and extremely helpful to the skillset of an intellectual property litigator, especially one at MoFo, where I’ve had the privilege of advocating for and representing multinational high-tech and biotech companies in high-stakes intellectual property disputes involving interesting technologies that I’ve had to quickly grasp and understand (e.g., fiber optics, LEDs, electronic exchanges, carburetors, digital cameras, antibodies). I’m also extremely grateful that MoFo has given me the opportunity to work with and learn under great people and teams across the world (e.g., New York, Washington, D.C., San Francisco, Palo Alto, Los Angeles, Tokyo, Beijing) in representing globally impacting companies. This was not the ideal route, but one that I would always take again.
Outside of work, my interests trace back to my Kentucky background blended with my nearly decade-long residency in New York and other stops along the way. I love Kentucky basketball and Stanford football, and following the NBA, NFL, and MLB. I also enjoy trying new food, making coffee with my Hario V60, and collecting and tasting Kentucky bourbon and single malts from around the world (e.g., Japan, Taiwan, Scotland). Like most folks in the time of COVID-19, I do miss traveling and include a picture below in historic Pátzcuaro, Mexico.