Anna Yuan is a corporate associate in MoFo’s San Francisco office. Her practice focuses on patent prosecution, IP due diligence, post-grant proceedings, and patent litigation support. As part of the Diverse in Practice series, we asked Anna about working cross-functionally with the Artificial Intelligence + Robotics Group, and how the team’s unique voices and perspectives are driving outstanding client outcomes.
What was it that initially drew you to AI and robotics law?
AI and robotics have fascinated me since college. As a computer engineering major, I built robots and programmed neural networks. When I was a program manager at Microsoft, I especially enjoyed designing software features that make the computer more intelligent and context-aware.
At MoFo, my practice focuses on developing patent portfolios for technology startups and companies. Through my work, I have personally witnessed a boom in AI and robotics in recent years – AI algorithms and robots are becoming increasingly intelligent, polished, and ubiquitous in all industry sectors. I love learning about the cutting-edge software and devices that our clients are developing and understanding the technical challenges they have overcome. Most importantly, I find it rewarding to counsel our clients to strategically protect their IP to further their business goals.
Do you have any examples of interesting work you’ve performed in the AI and robotics space?
At MoFo, we are often in the front seat of new waves of technological advancements. While my work was focused on computer software when I started at MoFo, my practice has evolved to overlap more and more with life sciences. For example, machine learning algorithms are used to discover drugs, revolutionize healthcare, and develop new treatment methods. Robots are used to perform surgeries and run farms. Developing this type of “interdisciplinary” patent portfolio is fun, as it gives me the opportunity to work with and learn from other patent practitioners at the firm.
This year, I co-founded MoFo’s Life Sciences Data Analytics Group. The group spans multiple practices at the firm, including patent, privacy, FDA, national security, and technology transactions. We advise clients on all legal aspects of life sciences data analytics businesses, including patenting software and AI-related life sciences inventions, licensing of data, providing counsel on the steps to ensure data privacy and ethical use of data, and guiding clients through the FDA approval process for data-driven diagnostic assays and medical devices. It is fascinating to collaborate with these MoFo practice groups in the United States, Asia, and Europe so that we can collectively help our clients navigate these complex legal landscapes.
Can you speak to the importance of mentorship in your career, or perhaps why you are driven to mentor others?
Mentorship is important because it makes people feel included, and the feeling of inclusion is a prerequisite to thriving in any work environment. I found mentorship to be critical both as a woman engineer and as an attorney.
MoFo’s commitment to mentorship is one of the reasons I work at the firm. When I interviewed as a law student, MoFo struck me as a place where it was evident that women and minorities flourish at all levels. As an associate, I have been fortunate to receive formal and informal mentorship in and outside of my practice group, as well as in and outside of my office. These relationships expose me to diverse perspectives and insights and make me a better attorney. For the same reason, I am driven to do the same for others.
Learn more about MoFo’s commitment to the recruitment, retention, and advancement of diverse attorneys here.