James J. Mullen is a corporate-patent partner in MoFo’s San Diego office. James combines his scientific experience with his legal training in his practice to craft commercially relevant solutions for his clients’ intellectual property challenges. He is the founder and head of MoFo’s Antibody Patent Group and leads the Patent Group in the San Diego office. As part of the Diverse in Practice series, we asked James about working cross-functionally with the Patent Counseling & Prosecution Group, and how the team’s unique voices and perspectives are driving outstanding client outcomes.
What was it that initially drew you to Patent Counseling + Prosecution law?
I was about halfway through my Ph.D. studies when I realized that, even though I loved science, being a bench scientist was not really for me. I started looking for other careers that would let me leverage my passion for science and my scientific training, and stumbled on patent law.
Do you have any examples of how Patent Counseling + Prosecution is being used to promote diversity and inclusion, or suggestions on how it can do so in the future?
One of the things I like about our group at MoFo is how inclusive it is. We have a long way to go, but when you look at the number of women we have in the group and women partners in the group, we are a leader in advancing gender equality. We hire the best and the brightest we can find. It is not surprising to me that strong performers, regardless of gender, are successful in the MoFo Patent Group.
Do you have any advice for the next generation of aspiring diverse lawyers who might be interested in the field?
My advice to the next generation of lawyers, regardless of their backgrounds, is to be creative with their solutions to the legal problems they face. Diverse lawyers bring diverse views to the table, and I believe they formulate diverse answers to those problems. Harnessing those creative resources is the second‑best reason why we should seek to expand the backgrounds of our people. The first best reason is because it is the right thing to do.
Could you tell us about someone who was a role model to you, either personally or professionally, and why?
Kate Murashige was and remains a role model to me. She mentored me in my earliest days when I was thinking about coming into law. I joined the firm 17 year ago, and working with her for those years really helped me become the attorney, partner, and person I am today. I owe her a huge debt, which I try to repay by being a mentor to the next generation of patent practitioners.