Sidebars

Stephanie Sanders: Mastering Authenticity Without a Plan

September 22, 2021 Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton LLP Season 1 Episode 9
Sidebars
Stephanie Sanders: Mastering Authenticity Without a Plan
Show Notes Transcript

Stephanie Sanders is currently the global patent operations chief at Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton. In this role, Stephanie is responsible for ensuring that the firm’s IP teams continually improve their patent prosecution practice and enhance their efficiency. Stephanie’s career journey includes the roles of patent examiner, patent attorney, law school career counselor, and IP training manager at a boutique law firm.

Originally from Long Island, NY, Stephanie earned a BS from Binghamton University, the top-ranked public university in New York, where she majored in computer engineering. She then attended law school at George Washington.

Although Stephanie claims to not have had a career plan, she was always attuned to her natural strengths, her interests, and her principles. Thus, even without a plan, she was able to blaze a trail that led her to a string of great jobs – each a better fit than the previous one. 

In this episode, Stephanie shares her nontraditional journey in the legal profession, the opportunities that can be found if you keep your eyes open, and the strategies that have allowed her to home in on authentic, perfect-for-her positions in patent law. 

Highlights include:

  • No career plan? No problem! (02:59)
  • The blinking cursor leads to a college major (04:19)
  • How to randomly fall into engineering, and love it (05:21)
  • Capitalizing on natural strengths (08:13)
  • Feeling like an ugly duckling and floundering (11:19)
  • A fed-up mother and a new career in patent law (13:24)
  • Landing in the Patent Office and receiving great patent training (18:02)
  • Pivoting again to law school and battling imposter syndrome (20:55)
  • Finding out that practicing law in BigLaw isn’t a good fit (30:36)
  • Being good at your job but feeling like a failure (39:50)
  • The drawbacks for women attorneys in firms without strong female leadership (43:34)
  • Judging a job by the fit, not by the prestige (48:30)
  • Finding an even more perfect job in the classifieds (52:37)
  • An ugly duckling turns into a swan (53:33)
  • Being authentic and genuine as a young attorney (55:52
  • When doors open and great offers start coming your way (59:17)

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**The opinions expressed are those of the attorneys and do not necessarily reflect the views of the firm or its clients. This podcast is for general information purposes and is not intended to be and should not be taken as legal advice.**

Stephanie Sanders:

It's really hard to be authentic when you're 25 and trying to figure out your life. Maybe I was my most authentic self then, but my authentic self was confused. So I think don't be so hard on yourself, right? I think that sometimes people say I'm not being authentic. Well , what does that mean? Well, it's whatever it means to you. There is no truth. There's no ground truth of who you are, right? It's flexible. It changes and you grow and you learn.

April Abele Isaacson:

Welcome to Sidebars, Kilpatrick Townsend's limited podcast series focused on women in patent law. I'm April Isaacson , a patent litigator and partner in the San Francisco office.

Kimberlynn Davis:

And I'm Kim Davis, a patent prosecutor and partner in the Atlanta office. We're here to discuss the gender gap in the patent bar and have candid conversations with female patent practitioners on their career paths. Welcome back to Sidebars! I'm Kim Davis and I'm here with my awesome co- host, the one and only April Isaacson . Okay listeners. Now I know, I always say this, I know it, but it doesn't make it any less true. We have a treat in store for all of you today. So patent law in my day was considered an alternative career path, meaning no academia, no industry you're on that alternative track. But what about those who are interested in an alternative to the alternative? For those of you interested in non-traditional careers in patent law, and I mean, by when I say that, I mean, not as an agent, you may find some very useful nuggets and hearing from today's guests, Stephanie Sanders. Stephanie hails from Long Island, New York, and completed her bachelor's of science at Binghamton University, where she majored in computer engineering. She then attended law school at George Washington. Stephanie has been a patent examiner, a patent attorney, an intellectual property training manager, and then the Director of Intellectual Property Operations. Stephanie is now the Global Patent Operations Chief at Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton, where according to her from bio, she works to make sure that our IP teams introduce efficiencies and improve our patent prosecution practice. In other words, between the two of us, listeners, she keeps us all in line. Stephanie, welcome to Sidebars!

Stephanie Sanders:

Thank you so much, Kim! It's such a pleasure to be here. I'm so excited to talk to you and April.

Kimberlynn Davis:

Oh, we're super excited about this conversation. So we're going to start off the same way we start off all of our discussions, but I want you to feel at liberty to take us as far back along the path as you need to to give us the full picture. Stephanie, what made you pivot from science to law?

Stephanie Sanders:

So when I was in high school, I didn't really have a plan. I was, I think the opposite of you Kim , in a lot of ways, where you always knew where you were going and how you were getting there. I didn't really know. I, in fact, in preparation for this interview, I asked my sister if she remembers me ever saying there was something I wanted to be when I grew up. And she said, other than a tap dancer, no. And I said, well, I'm glad that I didn't stick with that because I don't think that would have gone over too well. As I've gotten older, I think there's probably an expiration date for tap dancers unless you're uber famous. So I remember when I was in high school applying for colleges and having no real direction and picking schools kind of based on where my friends were thinking and applying to schools. But it's funny because my mother said, I don't know why you're wasting your money because you're going to a state school. So I ended up getting into Binghamton, which at the time, and I , I assume still is the gem of the state university of New York system. Although I also got into Stony Brook, but that was way too close to home. So I decided to head to the Southern tier there.

April Abele Isaacson:

Well, I know Binghamton is the number one publicly ranked university in the state of New York, by the way.

Stephanie Sanders:

And so I applied with no real thoughts on what my major might be. So when I was a senior, I took a class on computer programming and this was back in the, "can you make a DOS cursor blink?"

April Abele Isaacson:

What was it that made you decide to take that class?

Stephanie Sanders:

That's a great question April. I actually was trying to remember, and I don't know, isn't that crazy? Like something just, I don't know if it was divine intervention or what, but I needed a class and I signed up for that one. I think that I, I did enjoy my Commodore 64. I certainly was not a super nerdy person who was taking the whole thing apart and trying to program it. Like, you know, I did have friends who were doing that, but I liked the idea of computers. And so, yeah, so I signed up for this class and I really liked it. I really liked figuring out the puzzle of how do I make this machine do something. So about halfway through that, that class, I said, "hmm, I wonder if I could get into computer science at Binghamton? They've already accepted me. They can't say no at this point." So I called the Watson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and I spoke with someone and they said, "sorry, our computer science, our CS program is full, but if you want to be an engineering major, you can join us for that." And I said, "well, I don't know anything about engineering. I'm not sure." And they said, "well, you could start in engineering and switched to computer science." And I said, "sold! I'll take it." So I showed up on campus as an engineering major for the first two years, at least at Binghamton in the Watson School, you did a common curriculum. So I didn't have to pick a major in my major at that point, but I loved it. I just loved everything about being an engineering major. I loved Binghamton because I could have my little hundred plus group of engineers. And then I could have this whole big university around me. And as I know that Kim and April know about me. And as the listeners will , will learn, I have a big personality. So having a place where I can let that grow was really good for me. I think. So I was in my engineering major. I was having lots of fun. I was enjoying it and time passed and I never switched to computer science. I just didn't do it.

April Abele Isaacson:

If I can interject. I think we like to think of ourselves. You know, people say patent geek is kind of redundant, but I like to think of us as like the cool nerds. But the one thing I'll say is you have that capacity, but also the soft skills in terms of really connecting with people. Can you talk about where that comes from?

Stephanie Sanders:

Yeah, absolutely. Well, first of all, thank you. I've always been a chatterbox and I've always liked being around people. When I got to campus, the first thing that went through my head was, "ooh, this RA thing seems cool. I want to do that." Nobody else has that thought everyone else was like, the RA is a super dork. And I was like, "yay, these are my people!"

April Abele Isaacson:

Well , I was an RA in graduate school and, but part of it was wanting to connect with people, but some of it was financial. So was that a combination of things for you?

Stephanie Sanders:

Yes, definitely, but I'm pretty sure had I, not, my first thought was not, this is a way to make money. My first thought was, this is awesome. I get to be in charge. I get to meet everybody, do all the activities, hold the keys, w ho doesn't want to hold the keys?! And yes, certainly. I had w ork s tudy and I had to work my whole way through college. And so certainly the free room and board was a bonus, but that was not the driving factor, shall we say? So I've always enjoyed people. What I found when I was in my engineering major in my engineering classes, particularly in labs is that I liked the technology, but I wasn't super duper technical. So I was not the geekiest of geeks. I wasn't the person that anyone in my class would come to if they couldn't figure out, you know, a line of code or how to make this o r that work. But I was the person that people wanted on their team because I would write the report. I knew how to get a print out onto a transparency. I also worked in the the office of the electrical engineering chair, who was, I kid you not, Professor Plum. So I also had access to lots of fun office equipment, which was super.

Kimberlynn Davis:

You were the person to know basically, right? You were the person.

Stephanie Sanders:

I was the person to know. Thank you. Yes. But I think what it comes down to is that I would give a presentation. Like to me, that was no big deal. Right? I would stand up and I would say, here's our thing, this is what it does, this is how it does it. And it never occurred to me that that was something that other people couldn't do.

April Abele Isaacson:

And was it something that you found that you not only had the talent to do and other people maybe couldn't do, but they didn't want to do as well. So then it kind of fell to you. Is that how it works?

Stephanie Sanders:

Absolutely. There's been pluses and minuses to that, which I think maybe we'll talk about in a little bit, but yeah, absolutely. If I would say, you know, Hey, can I speak? People would be like, "sure! You know, no problem." And certainly there were people gradations you know, in my class who were happy to speak, but for the most part, yeah. If I wanted to give the presentation or I wanted to design the, the overhead or I wanted to write up the report, people were psyched to have me do that. And I just, it's always just been a part of me to answer your question April, about where that came from, or maybe it was Kim . I'm sorry. I don't know. When I was in law school, I had a very good friend who said something to me about, you know, not everybody is outgoing and not everybody wants to stand up and speak and some people are shy and I—this is maybe not a best place to share this story—but I said, "I don't even understand shy, like what is shy?" And she said to me, "gosh, Stephanie," but I just don't, it would never occur to me to not want to stand up in front of a group of people and talk. And so, as I progressed in my undergraduate career, it became very clear to me that I was not the most technical person. If you were going to put me into a room and have me write code, I would probably have jumped out of a window. It just sounded awful to me to be by myself doing that sort of work. So all I saw at that point was, I don't want to do this. This is what my peers are doing. These are the jobs they are going out to get. These are the internships they're getting. I don't want to do that crap. What does that mean for me? And there was a lot of like, well, I'm not good enough, right? A lot of I'm not as good at this as they are. My grades were good. I've always been good at school, but I wasn't building computers, you know, in my spare time...

April Abele Isaacson:

Do you think at that point, then you weren't really fully aware of these communication skills and abilities to connect and being hard on yourself for thinking that you were lacking in the technical?

Stephanie Sanders:

I had no idea that these other parts of me were skills, let alone marketable skills. I had no idea. I didn't know someone would pay me cause I like to talk. That had never occurred to me. Now. I should say, my mom is a psychologist. So I knew you could get paid to talk or to listen, I guess, in her case. But yeah, it just, it was all about the, what I couldn't do.

April Abele Isaacson:

In your case I would say it's not to talk, but, but because you have something to say and to communicate.

Stephanie Sanders:

That's right. Thank you April. Yes, that's right. And so I was floundering. I didn't know what to do. And graduation was fast approaching. I had a lot of interviews. I had one job offer, which was a sales job, which in retrospect might have actually been a decent fit. Unfortunately, the job was in Allentown, Pennsylvania, and I was 22 years old and wasn't super psyched on going there. No offense listeners, if you're from Allentown, I'm sure it's a wonderful place. Great. Billy Joel song.

April Abele Isaacson:

I'm not from Allentown, but I'm from , from the middle of nowhere, Pennsylvania. So I won't take offense.

Stephanie Sanders:

Okay, good. Well, thank you April. I couldn't see myself doing that. And so I graduated and I just, Kim, it wasn't a pivot. It was more of a plop, you know, I just didn't even know what I was meant to do. And I would say I was, there was probably some depression at the time because this was a point in my life where I had no plan. And again, not that you know, I had planned everything out to the minute, but I knew I was going to do well in high school and go to college and do well there and get a good job and, you know, move along. But I really had no idea what to do with myself. So this is where I think, you can tell me if this is the pivot or not the pivot, but the inflection point was I was laying around on the couch at my mom's house watching way too much Carson Daly on Total Request Live. If you don't know what that is. My apologies. And my mother who was tired of me after, I dunno , two weeks, got on the computer and she Asked Jeeves, I'm pretty sure she Asked Jeeves, my sister said she just went out to AOL and typed it into the search engine. But I , I think she Asked Jeeves and we're going to go with that. So my mother Asked Jeeves...

April Abele Isaacson:

And we're putting ourselves in the 2001 timeframe with Ask Jeeves as well as Total Request Live, where I believe it was "Bye, Bye, Bye," by NSYNC that you were requesting?

Stephanie Sanders:

Yeah, absolutely. I did call. I called kind of a lot, actually. I didn't have anything else to do. So my mother Asked Jeeves "who will hire a graduate with an engineering degree?" And up popped the U. S. Patent and Trademark Office. I'd never heard of a patent. I didn't know what a patent was. They were in Virginia. I didn't know anyone south of Hoboken. I had never been to Virginia. You know, the whole thing was, was a little bit crazy, but my mom was over me. And so she, she got me up, she sat me down, and she said, read this, apply for this. Now I should say I wasn't being a total slob or lazy person. I had been applying for jobs, but I was so directionless that I'm sure if you looked at those applications, the people reading them were probably like, okay, so she got a book out of the library on how to apply for jobs on Monster .com and that's it like she has no passion for anything.

April Abele Isaacson:

Would it be safe to say that you were feeling lost at that point?

Stephanie Sanders:

Yeah. Yeah, totally. I just didn't know what to do with myself. And I had, I had some friends who graduated without a job. I had some who were going on to grad school. I just felt like I was the only one. I was the only one who didn't know what to do with myself. So I sat down, I applied for the job at the Patent Office and couldn't have been a week and I got a phone call to have an interview on the phone. An interview on the phone, not a request to come to interview, an interview on the phone. So back to April's point, this was 2001. Patents were blowing up and they didn't have enough examiners. And they certainly didn't have enough with computer science, computer engineering backgrounds. And so they were psyched to see my resume. So I got a phone call and who would be my future supervisory patent examiner, or SPE, essentially offered me the job over the phone. And it was crazy. And then , I think a day later, another SPE called me and tried to offer me the job. And I was like, "do you guys not talk to each other? I already talked to this guy." I came down to Arlington, Virginia, I went and met some folks at the patent office, and boom, I was a patent examiner. I'm not sure that I pivoted so much from the sciences as I was in this science funnel. And then it ended, but it turned out there was after all a slide. And that slide went down to , uh, you know, into the patent world.

Kimberlynn Davis:

There you go. And I love that. And I don't know how I feel about that, Stephanie, you said if you pointed to one point of your path and said, well, "maybe this is where the pivot happened," but it's almost like you were born to just use the tools of science, but in another arena, right. Because of all of those soft skills that you had you aligned with, who was it? Professor Plum was the head of? You aligned yourself with the folks who could make things happen. Right? And that in turn allowed you to provide additional to the folks that you interacted with. Didn't matter that you weren't like the top coder. Everybody still wanted you because of those other skills. So I love it. I love it. I find that there were a few points. So yeah, tell us about life as a patent examiner. How did that go?

Stephanie Sanders:

Oh, Kim, when you think of the most exciting, fun-filled, party-like atmosphere take that, reverse it, that was the Patent Office .

April Abele Isaacson:

Do we need a disclaimer here because Kim is a, you know, a practicing patent practitioner and coordinates with the PTO on a daily basis?

Stephanie Sanders:

Well, I was going to say that the Patent Office was a fantastic experience. I really did enjoy working there. I learned a lot, and I really think that I found out a lot about myself by working there. It was not fancy. It was not snazzy. They were in their old building in Crystal City with all the undergrounds. There was nothing flashy about it. You know, I had interviewed one of the jobs I interviewed for was a job with Goldman Sachs. And that was flashy, as you could imagine. And this was the total opposite. This was a whole group of people wearing pleated front khakis and polo shirts and getting down to business. But I will tell you, I walked in there, they had a great training program. It was way shorter than, than it is now. They've really improved upon it. They taught me what I needed to know. And I did my work and I learned about patents, which I had never heard anything about. And I learned about the importance of patents. And I learned about how I could use my knowledge of technology without actually making something myself. Right? And so I found out that, oh, I don't have to be the maker. I don't have to be the creator. I can have this knowledge and this interest in this area and that in and of itself is useful. It gave me an opportunity to do research. It gave me an opportunity to write . It was really the first time I had to write anything because Binghamton had—at least at the time — somehow finagled it so that our engineers, some of our engineering courses counted our lab reports for our writing requirement which at the time I thought was great. I'm not sure that I would, that if I had it to do it again, I would probably take a few other writing classes on my own. But I had the opportunity to write at the Patent Office. I had the opportunity to have someone review my work and give me instant feedback. And so I really, I learned a lot. It really showed me that there was something to this whole I like science, I like computers, thing that I could do without being the maker or the creator there. So no disrespect to the Patent Office.

April Abele Isaacson:

Being at the patent office and being exposed to the technology and looking at it through the prism of law, how did that make you look at going to law school?

Stephanie Sanders:

So about five minutes in, I was looking for the next thing to do, because one of the things I forgot to mention before is that I am always looking for the next thing. I looked around and I said, "okay, this is cool. I like this. I want to check this out, but wait a minute, there's this other person involved in this process, this patent attorney, what is that about?" And so I remember one of the first interviews I had, well I guess I was being interviewed. I asked the attorney, I said, "how'd you become a patent attorney? What's that like?" And the person said, "well, I have the background similar to yours. And I went to law school," and I said, "I could do that. That can't be hard." So I signed up for a LSAT prep class. And I was, I thought I was being very fancy. I got on the Metro, went to DuPont circle to take my little class—I know very fancy—once a week. And I took the LSAT and I did okay. I didn't do great. I wasn't studying that hard. I did okay. But yeah, I applied to law school and I went, and honestly, I will say that there were two reasons that I decided to do that. One, I liked the idea that this was a specific path that I could select, right? There was some power in that to say, "oh, okay. Patent examiner. That's good. But now I see something that I can work towards. I'm going to go do that." So that was first. Second, I love school. If I was independently wealthy, I would just go to school and rack up degrees for the rest of my life. So that was great. And then third, the work that the patent examiners do requires a lot of concentration and a lot of research and a lot of thoughtfulness. It does not require a lot of talking. In fact, it doesn't help you very much if you're up and about and chit chatting with everybody around the hallway, because you have a production system and you need to get your work done. I think that the context, the way in which patent examiners spend their days was just not a good fit for me. I think it was very similar to sitting in a room, writing code, only getting up because you realize you're starving and you haven't eaten in two days. So the context was not the right fit,or at least that specific role was not the right fit, but the patent universe, I think really put me on that path of starting to realize that, okay, this science stuff is cool and I like it and I can do it. And that's great, but there's this other part of me that is valuable, right? This whole being able to communicate that, being able to talk to other people, being able to write really did have some value. So off I went to law school.

Kimberlynn Davis:

So what's it like every other school experience where you immediately loved it. I know you were laser-focused on patents, but did you love the Con Law and , and property, and all of the other aspects?

Stephanie Sanders:

I loved law school, but not for the reason you suggest. I loved it because it was all about people, right? Being an engineering student, you know, you go to your class, you talk to people a little bit, you do your test , you go home, right. But in law school, you did things in groups, right? When you were doing your moot court, you had a partner. When you were in your small legal research and writing class, there were 10 of you and you were all scared so you all talked. I liked that aspect of it. I will tell you listeners. I was freaked out. I thought there's no way that I am going to figure any of this stuff out. I remember going to Con Law and someone raising their hand and saying something that I thought was the most brilliant thing I had ever heard in my entire life and going, "oh my God, I just spent the past five years thinking about branch predictors and pipelines and all of this computer geeky stuff, I'm in trouble here." And so I remember getting out of that class and saying to someone, one of my friends, "oh my God, that person, I can't believe they, they knew that." And she said, "they must've taken Con Law in undergrad. They're just regurgitating what that professor said. They don't know anything special." And I was like, "oh, okay."

April Abele Isaacson:

Yeah, they'd already read Tribe. And you didn't even know who Tribe was.

Stephanie Sanders:

Exactly. I thought it was a tribe called Quest. Like I had no idea, you know? So absolutely.

April Abele Isaacson:

Let me ask you, I know that when I was in law school, there were a few of us that had technical degrees. And some of the students that I was friends with struggled; first -year particularly the engineering students, because to your point, they weren't used to taking essay tests, they were used to more, you know , kind of multiple choice. How was first year of law school for you in that respect?

Stephanie Sanders:

It was definitely different. And it was harder. I would say some of the concepts that there is no answer was both liberating and frustrating. So I did like that you could argue your way into, or out of, an answer. I thought that was very liberating, but I also found it frustrating because a lot of times I want to say, "well, just tell me what is the answer?" And they would say, "you know , there is no answer necessarily." So that was challenging to me. It did take me a while to find my groove on the writing essay type tests , instead of just doing the problem and showing your work. But it did occur to me at some point that it's kind of like doing the problem and showing your work, right? If you look at the IRAC, really, that's just what it is, it's a formula. I could do that. That part was easy. You tell me how you want it. I will give it to you that way. It's following a set of instructions. It's just like a computer program. And they said, this is how you brief a case. So I briefed the cases. Every single one till the day I graduated. I was the only person who did that. I mean, my outlines, guys, the highlighters, the flags, it was gorgeous. I think that some of the things that I am good at that I learned through my engineering experience did serve me well. It was a little bit harder though, to get used to those of there's no answer, things like that.

Kimberlynn Davis:

Safe to say you were the most prepared student, right? Or close to it. You used your preparation.

Stephanie Sanders:

Yeah. I was very prepared. I'm not sure I always knew what exactly I was doing, but certainly when I got, I will never, ever forget this. The second semester, first day of my 1-L second semester in civil procedure, we're all sitting there. Everyone's feeling cool. Right? Cause it's second semester. So now they know everything, right? And I'm sitting there in my seat and our professor who we had had first semester walks in—oh no, I take it back. He was a new professor because the professor we had had for civ pro one was not teaching two. So it was this new professor. We didn't know him. He walks in the door, he starts walking down the steps ,and calls on me. And my heart, like flip-flopped and I will never forget, for some reason I was wearing one of those headbands that has all the teeth in it. I just felt the teeth on my head in that headband. But I had my brief. And so I just took it out and I started, I don't know what I said, but at least I had something to say. So I was very prepared and I did take a class with that same professor later on. And he did come in on the first day and call on me, you know, throw it back, which I thought was very amusing. And I did have my brief then t oo. So I got it.

April Abele Isaacson:

Then when you were in law school, did you ever have a sense of the imposter syndrome based on what you're talking about right now?

Stephanie Sanders:

Oh yeah, definitely. I would say I spent at least the whole first year realizing that someone was going to say, "you should not be here. There's no reason you should be in law school. You didn't do pre law . You don't know anything about law. You didn't really like LA law. You weren't a big Ally McBeal fan..." Like I was pretty sure that people were going to just say this was a mistake. Particularly, cause I got into GW, which is a great school and very good for IP. And I definitely had this feeling like, "oh, they only let me in because I'm a patent examiner and that looks good for their IP ranking."

April Abele Isaacson:

Do you remember the moment or maybe just a period when you realized, "I belong in the room? I deserve and I'm supposed to be here?"

Stephanie Sanders:

I think part of me is still waiting for that day, April, to be honest. I think that never really came. There were certainly moments when I felt like, "okay, I'm okay. I'm not going to flame out." But certainly, you know , I remember having interviews for summer associate positions and I had, it was back in the party days and so I had a lot of offers, and I just remember thinking, "these people are so stupid. Like what, why are they giving me all of these offers? They have no idea. I don't know anything about the law. I've been in law school for a year. I don't know what I'm doing. I don't know anything." I definitely felt that. I felt that when I was a summer associate, I felt like they are going to figure out that I actually know nothing, that I was an examiner for a year, but I didn't really learn anything. It really did go on and on. I've gotten more comfortable with myself as I've gone on, but I would say the imposter syndrome didn't really start to dissipate until after I decided to stop practicing, actually.

Kimberlynn Davis:

Let's go there. I would love to take us to that point. So I do know you accepted one of those offers that you received. And so you were a Big Law practicing attorney at some point. Tell us about that and how that helped you to move along, to find your true calling.

Stephanie Sanders:

So I did accept one of those offers and I was a summer associate and I received an offer to join the firm. And I did after I took and passed the New York Bar and I did patent prosecution. And I did that for a number of partners, a number of clients. I liked it. I felt like I was pretty good at it. I soaked up every tiny bit of training and information that was sent my way, but I hit the same stumbling block that it was very isolating. The work was very isolating. And in order to bill seven and a half hours a day; did you guys know this? Like all the time, you're not working on cases, doesn't count. So like if you're walking around talking to people it doesn't count. I got to my first review and my hours were always low, but I got to my first review and I remember thinking like, "okay, well, my hours are not great, but I created a series of helpful practices lunches for the first years, I volunteered to do the case lunch three times I interviewed every single summer associate candidate and went to every summer associate event. I did this, this, this, and this." And I sat there and I got the "your hours are low speech." And I said, "but I'll look at all these things that I've done for the firm." They're like, "but your hours are low," "but you asked me to do these things," "but your hours were low."

April Abele Isaacson:

Do you think that some of those extras that you did that maybe weren't fully getting appreciated related to the fact that you're a woman?

Stephanie Sanders:

Yes, absolutely. A hundred percent.

April Abele Isaacson:

Can you talk about that?

Stephanie Sanders:

So this is where, when I said before that these things have gotten me a little bit in trouble. So when I was in college for my senior design project, I will never forget the professor introduced the team to our client—our client was from industry—and introduced me as the secretary, which was not the nicest thing ever. But he had a point, not a good one, but he had a point in that I was the person who was taking the notes and I was the person who was being organized. And I was the person who was calling everybody to set up the meeting. Right? You didn't have Doodles back then. And so I was serving in that function. Now of course the downside, as we all know, is the negative connotation to the term secretary when you're in a group of men and you are the only woman. And so when I was at the firm and anyone would ask for a volunteer for anything, my natural inclination is to volunteer. My natural inclination is to go towards the thing that is social and to go towards the thing that will help. Right? It was my idea, you know, someone said, "it would be great if the partners would tell us things, couldn't we just have a class on time narratives or whatever it was?" And I said, "oh yeah, I'll organize that. I'll make that happen." And I did. And everyone loved it and it was super great, but it didn't count. And so the question is, is it the fact that I am a woman? Is it the fact that these are parts of my personality and things that I'm good at? Is it, I have those things as part of my personality and I'm good at them because I'm a woman? I don't know.

April Abele Isaacson:

When so much of it, it's inextricably intertwined. And I find myself asking the same question, even now being a lawyer for 26 years, is it that I'm being kind of taken advantage of for some of those things or am I allowing it to happen? And I think it's a combination of the two things. I don't know how you feel about that?

Stephanie Sanders:

I think that's right. I think I just, honestly, I couldn't help myself. I cannot be in a situation where I don't take notes or I don't take charge. I was at a friend's, one of my best friends was getting married and we , this was quite some time ago and we were at his rehearsal and everything's a mess. Like people were just running around and talking and all of a sudden I just went, I clapped my hands and I said, "people we are paying attention now!" And that's just who I am. And I can't not do that. And I don't know what role gender plays in that, but I know it's some role .

April Abele Isaacson:

Can you talk about, then you ultimately we know, decided not to stay in Big Law as a practitioner. Can you talk to us about that transition out of Big Law in terms of not practicing law?

Stephanie Sanders:

Yeah. So I did it twice because it takes me a while to learn my lessons. And so, you know, I tried a few things while I was at my firm. I really did like the people, but things just went really downhill after I would say the second year when I had the, "your hours are too low" conversation, I decided to switch to litigation thinking, "okay, it'll be easier to get hours ." Right? You know , I hear it's easier.

April Abele Isaacson:

Not true!

Stephanie Sanders:

Not true.

April Abele Isaacson:

I've heard that from many, a patent practitioner that they think that in litigation, but no, it is not true.

Stephanie Sanders:

Also, it still doesn't count if you're just chit-chatting, fun fact that doesn't change. So I switched to litigation and I will say it did help a little bit. It is a little easier to block your time, right? If you're working on a brief or you're working on, you know, a memo, it's easier to do, to say I worked on that for these four hours.

April Abele Isaacson:

Not anymore, by the way.

Stephanie Sanders:

I know. Well, I was going to say that things have changed, but it was easier to do that when you're not touching 10 files a day. So there was some of that, but ultimately it was not enough. And there were a couple of things that made me decide to leave the law and not just leave Big Law, but to leave the law at the time completely. One of the things was that I was just too damn efficient. And I remember being in a room, it was gotta be , it had to be 11 o'clock at night and a partner was hemming and hawing over a comma. And I just remember thinking, "this is B.S. Why are we doing this? I was done with this, whatever. It was two hours ago, I'm done. Like I want to go home." And there was a lot of that because I was very efficient. I don't have time for going back and forth when I'm done. I'm done. There was—going back to law school—I once left a three-hour exam after an hour and 20 minutes because I was done and people were like angry with me, but I was done. I wasn't gonna get a better grade if I sat there another hour and 40 minutes. So I left. Anyway, so I think there was, you know, one of the reasons I left was it just was very counter, this whole hours business, was just very counter to how I live my life. Right? I want to get things done in as efficient way as possible. I want to be able to have time built into my day to chit chat and talk to people and build meaningful relationships. I want to do these other things that I think are valuable. And then the other component was that I had no life. I was working all the time. People would say things to me like, "well, Stephanie's not married. She doesn't have to leave. Stephanie doesn't have kids. She doesn't have to go home."

April Abele Isaacson:

I'm very familiar with that concept by the way.

Stephanie Sanders:

Oh my god. I actually remember saying to a partner once I remember saying like, "well, how am I ever going to meet anyone if I'm always here?!"

Kimberlynn Davis:

They want you to meet them there.

Stephanie Sanders:

I don't have a good filter. I'm like, no, this is patent law. The odds are good, but the goods are odd.

April Abele Isaacson:

Do you think that, I found that with regard to the you're single, don't have children, so you can be available to fly to Brussels to cover some emergency deposition at the last minute, because you have no life. I find sometimes women are a little bit harder on other women than men are. Have you found that to be your experience?

Stephanie Sanders:

I did not. And the reason for that is at this particular firm, there were only, there were four women partners in my office with whom I had any interaction and I didn't really work with any of them. And I've thought about that since actually, and I'm not sure why that happened. I don't know if it's a technology thing or a client thing, but I just never really worked with them, which I thought was kind of interesting. So, you know, I had no life and I wasn't getting from work what I wanted to and I was depressed. I had floundered a little bit. I had found a path. I was super excited. I got on the patent attorney train. I did everything I was told to do. And yet, somehow I was failing because I could not bill these hours, even though I was working all the time and I had nothing else happening in my life. And I was just super duper depressed. I felt like, "what on earth am I going to do now?" And it was, it was very, very bad.

April Abele Isaacson:

Was it another instance where you felt lost, so to speak?

Stephanie Sanders:

I did. I did feel lost, but I think at this point it was harder because I felt like I was doing my best. Right? When I graduated from school, I was lost. I didn't really know what I wanted to do or where I was going to go, but it's not like I was trying anything and failing. Here I felt like I was failing. I felt like everything I had in my toolbox was no longer right for the job. And I thought I was a pretty good attorney. I still think I was a pretty good patent attorney. I've had people who took on my cases after I left say I did a good job. You know, I don't think that was the issue. And the fact that the quality of my work seemed to have very little bearing on my success, at least at that point in time at that place. And perhaps I'm being a little harsh on them. I'm sure if my work was bad, I would have been out of there much sooner, but it was heartbreaking and I was depressed and I had asked them for some time and I ended up taking a month. I ended up taking a leave of absence. And during that time, I really thought about what do I want to do with myself? Because this is clearly not working.

April Abele Isaacson:

When you say that you felt like you were failing, it sounds like that was you judging yourself as a failure, as opposed to getting feedback from others. Is that, is that accurate?

Stephanie Sanders:

Yes, at least on a day-to-day basis. But I think the overall message was, "you have to bill these hours and you're not." And that is the one and only criteria. Now that may not have been true, but that was the message that I received.

April Abele Isaacson:

And it's interesting because we have, what does success mean? In your instance, was it you thinking you were not being successful because weren't billing enough hours?

Stephanie Sanders:

It was me thinking I wasn't being successful because they told me over and over again, "ou are not meeting the hours requirement. You need to bill more hours." And I physically could not work any more than I was working. Now, could I have maybe not spent an hour chit chatting or going for a coffee or getting lunch or whatever? Honestly, I don't think so. I think it would have been way worse for me if I didn't do that. That was the only thing that was keeping me hanging on was my relationships to other people.

Kimberlynn Davis:

And you need to eat let's add that in there. I think you, yeah, I think that's important . No , it's amazing that you added a few minutes ago, you mentioned at that time, this just wasn't working for them. Fast forwarding into the future we know there are so many other models that play other than the billable hour model that are being tossed around. And I wonder if you were at that time, you know, where Stephanie Sanders would be today? Just curious, especially since you enjoy the work, right? Essentially, you enjoy doing it.

Stephanie Sanders:

I tried to, I tried to go into that future. I applied for some in-house positions thinking back then, right? It was, "oh, in-house is way easier. You don't have to bill your time." Ha ha. So I just, but I was just not quite experienced enough. I just kept getting people saying, "well, you're fourth year. If you were a four and a half year or you were a fifth year." I just kept missing out. I just didn't have enough experience. And so I don't know what that alternate universe would have looked like had I gone on to a firm that did not have such a high billing requirement, you know, or I had gone in-house and I didn't have to bill my time and my efficiency was appreciated a little bit more. I don't know.

April Abele Isaacson:

Earlier you mentioned that where you were working, there were four female partners and you hadn't worked with any of them. Can you talk about any of the sort of gender bias or things of that nature that you dealt with working at a law firm at that time?

Stephanie Sanders:

Well, I'll tell a story. So when I was interviewing for summer associate positions at this particular firm, I was told they had a women's group and that they had a monthly women's lunch. And I said, "that's amazing. I want to make friends with all of the women." So I showed up as a summer and a few weeks went by and I saw one of the female partners and I went up to her and I said, "hey, you know, I'm really looking forward to it. When is the women's lunch?" And she looked at me like I caught her with her pants down and she said, "oh, yes, soon." So what I can only assume was a hastily planned lunch was put together for my benefit. I should mention I was the only female summer associate. And it was the most awkward thing. It was so clear that these people were not friends. They don't have to be friends. There's no reason to be friends with people just because they are the same X, Y, or Z as you, right? The same gender, the same whatever. But the thing that annoyed me was that like, why say you have it, if you don't, what is the point of that? So that was very awkward. For the record, when I joined the firm as an associate, there was never ever again another woman's lunch, at least not one that I was invited to. So that was strange and awkward. Certainly I experienced some of your garden variety sexual harassment, which is a really sad thing to say that there is in fact garden variety sexual harassment, but you know, immature comments, making suggestions that a client really liked me and perhaps I could pay them some more attention, all sorts of things. Like one of my favorite terrible things that happened was there was this person from IT and they, this person, every time I saw them asked me which attorney I worked for. And I don't know if this person thought it was a joke at a certain point or what, but it just crawled on my skin. So, you know, I don't think, gosh, this is going to sound terrible. There was nothing really bad. What does that even mean? I don't know, but it was not the best. And having been at other law firms, I have some sense that it was probably better than some and worse than others.

April Abele Isaacson:

Oh no. I was just thinking about, it goes back to that secretary comment that you were talking about earlier. I know I've shown up for a deposition. There's an assumption that I'm the court reporter. It's probably around the same timeframe you're talking about at the law firm. Or if you say you're an attorney, not a court reporter, then who's the attorney that's going to take the deposition? Can you talk a little bit more about some of the, what one might call microaggressions that you've dealt with or any kind of tokenism as being a woman in a male dominated profession?

Stephanie Sanders:

So I was definitely trotted out. It's hard to separate all these things, right? So I know I was asked to interview every female summer associate candidate. Now, was I asked that because I also am a woman? Was I asked that because as a woman, I agreed to things when you asked me to do them? Was it because as a woman I'm more social and so I'm more likely to make a good impression? I don't know. Some, all. So there was certainly some of that. You know, it's interesting, at the time there was not as much of an emphasis on diversity within the firm and on client teams. So things that I'm seeing happen now where a woman or someone who has a diverse background is trotted out at the pitch, right? To say, look, we have a black female patent attorney on our team, wasn't happening so much then. And so I didn't experience it in that particular way at that time. So honestly, I have no idea if that's good or bad, but that particular aspect, you know, I didn't deal with.

Kimberlynn Davis:

So Stephanie, the good point is I know we've spent a lot of time on not the doom and gloom, but what we all experience , but I want listeners to know that there was, or is a light at the end of the tunnel for you. Can you tell us how you moved? You spent some time speaking to that month of depression. Tell us how you got out of that and what you moved on to.

Stephanie Sanders:

Yeah, absolutely. So I wasn't really sure what I wanted to do with myself. And so when I, again, ha theme, and so I hired a career coach and the first thing I thought was, "I want to be a career coach. This is awesome. You help people figure out their life there's worksheets. You know, it was amazing." So I met with this person. She was great. She was super helpful. And I decided I'm going to become a law school career counselor, which is like the least impressive job you could ever have among lawyers. For some reason, everybody thinks that the people who do career counseling at law schools are just, like could not get anything better, which is by the way, far from the truth. But I just decided this is my path. And so I started networking up a storm. I started writing blog posts. I learned everything I could about LinkedIn. I was jazzed. And once I decided that I had a plan, I felt better because then I was no longer stuck. Right? And so it took many months after this point, but I did it. I got a job as a career counselor back at GW at the law school. And it was great. It was like a breath of fresh air just opened up in my world. I started dating my husband. I got married. I started my business. I created all sorts of fun stuff. I mean, nobody really cares what the law school career office does. Right? As long as they have results. So I created classes, I created everything. I mean, I did a workshop where I went around and the only thing I said was "hello," and I just went around and shook everybody's hand. And then I said, "that was bad. Do it again. That was bad." You know, all sorts of crazy things. So it was super fun.

April Abele Isaacson:

When you talked earlier about points where you felt lost, or did you feel like you found your way or found room to be your full self when you got into that position?

Stephanie Sanders:

Yes, I felt well, first of all, I don't know if this is, I don't know how much this plays into it, but it was all women. So that was a very different dynamic. And we can spend hours talking about that, but it was, it was different. I think that everyone was there for a reason. People don't go into a job like that just because, right? You know, to pivot for being a practicing attorney to being a career counselor at a law school usually something has happened to cause that transition. I took classes, I got a graduate certificate. I spoke, I really did. I found there was a lot of room for me to do the things that I was good at and that I enjoyed. The whole job was talking to people and telling them what to do, two things I love . So it was a lot of fun. But I will tell you, April, I got bored. It took about two and a half years. And I was bored out of my mind because, remember, I like technology and science and things that are new and sparkly and shiny. And now I'm telling, having the exact same conversation with someone five times a day, "your cover letter is a story that explains to an employer, why your background is a good fit for their position. Your cover letter is a story," again and again. So I had this opportunity to create this world, but then I created it and I was kind of done with it. So since I, as I mentioned before, since I like to learn my lessons twice, I went back to practicing law at a Big Law firm, which I think by the way, is no insignificant feat that I was able to go back into that world because everyone told me, forget it. And I should mention that when I quit being an associate, everyone thought I was nuts. People thought I was crazy that I would give up the prestige and the money and all that time and energy, but nothing is lost, right ? Nothing is lost. So I got bored working as a career counselor. I went back into practicing law and I did it different this time. I didn't volunteer for anything. I didn't make any friends. I didn't talk to anybody. I ate my lunch at my desk. I did it differently. And I was no happier. I mean, I was a little happier because I knew more. I was smarter. I understood more. But it still wasn't for me. And this is one of the pivot points. So I was there for probably about six months at law firm number two and I'm scrolling through IP Law360, which everybody knows and loves and everybody reads every day, I'm sure, like I do. And I get to the bottom and in the job postings, there is a position for a patent trainer and my little antennae are going ding , ding , ding, ding, ding, ding, ding. So I open it. And they're looking for someone who is a patent attorney, has experienced working with lawyers, has experienced doing training, developing training programs, good at public speaking, good at writing.

Kimberlynn Davis:

They wanted Stephanie Sanders, basically.

Stephanie Sanders:

That's right. And so I remember I sent the, I sent it to my husband and he goes, "ugh, really? You just started this job." And so I interviewed for that job. It was at an IP boutique, although a very well known one. And I got it and they had no idea how good they had it. They, I don't think I know any other person in our field who has that mix of background and, April, that is where the imposter syndrome I think, started to fade away because I realized that now I have these two things, three things, right? The technical, the patent, and the people skills that actually were valuable that could actually come together to be useful. And I developed a whole series of training programs around patents for associates, new associates, and new technical specialists at this firm. And also I got to do whatever I wanted, which was really fun. And it was great. I just really, I enjoyed it.

April Abele Isaacson:

Do you think the imposter syndrome faded away from within, or was it external, or maybe a combination of the two?

Stephanie Sanders:

I think it was definitely from within. I found I was like a hexagon, right? And so I found a square and part of me fit in and then I found a triangle and part of me fit in and then I found this hexagon, you know, I felt where it was close enough—I don't know my shapes very well—and I fit better, more pieces of me fit. Right? I was able to merge more parts of who I was and that's where I realized, oh, every piece of these things is valuable. And I've met a lot of patent attorneys at this, at that point, and more since. And I don't know too many people who were as passionate about training and providing advice and answering questions and helping to build up other people and talking and patent law, like what a combination. Right?

April Abele Isaacson:

Do you feel like it would be fair to say you got to be more of your authentic self?

Stephanie Sanders:

Yes. And only more since then. And that's because I realized that what I had to offer was actually valuable. I wasn't actively suppressing some part. I wasn't actively saying, "I'm not going to make friends here because that's just going to eat away my billable hour time, or I'm going to focus all my energy on this talking creative stuff and totally ignoring the technical side or all the patent experience I had gained."

April Abele Isaacson:

Let me pull that thread a little bit, because I would like you to give maybe some advice to more junior attorneys about trying to be and striving to be your authentic self and being genuine. Can you talk about that a little bit more?

Stephanie Sanders:

It's really, really hard. And it's really hard for a number of reasons. Reason number one is unless you go to law school 20 years into your career, you don't know who you are. It's really hard to be authentic when you're 25 and trying to figure out your life. Maybe I was my most authentic self then, but my authentic self was confused. So I think don't be so hard on yourself, right? I think that sometimes people say, "I'm not being authentic." Well , what does that mean? Well, it's whatever it means to you. There is no "truth." There's no ground truth of who you are. Right? It's flexible. It changes. And you grow and you learn. So I think that's one piece of advice I would give to younger folks and to past Stephanie, if I was speaking with her. But I also think that I would say everything is a journey. I remember being in law school and people being like, "if I don't pick the right summer associate position, I am screwed forever." No, no, that's not true. You know, you don't pick the right job at the front end, so, okay. Chances are good. You're not going to have that job in four years anyway, you'll have moved on to something bigger and better. And everything that you learn, you will build upon to find the next thing that's a good fit. I would not have been good in the job I have right now when I graduated law school or when I left Big Law the first time, or when I left Big Law a second time. I wasn't ready for it until I was ready for it. And so I think for people there's so much push to be authentic, to be ambitious, to know what you're going to do, to have a plan to be Kim Davis. People, we can not all be Kim Davis. Okay? We can not all have a plan at the beginning. It's okay to not know. It's okay to not know. That doesn't mean you're not smart. It doesn't mean you're not ambitious.

Kimberlynn Davis:

I love it. Even the not Kim Davis part, I'll take that. Everyone doesn't want to be me. It's okay.

April Abele Isaacson:

Well, I think the real point was that not everyone can be you, Kim. We're just showing the love here. You talked about your position now and I'd like you to, if you could reflect back on that, being your authentic self and getting to the point you are now.

Stephanie Sanders:

When I was at my last firm, I was the trainer and that morphed into a management position. They call it operations because operations sounds way more fancy than management and administration, but that's essentially what it was. And so while I was, people would come to me and say, "how do I do this?" And I would say, "well, that's not really a question of law. That's a question of process. So let's think about it. How should we do this?" And so I kind of worked myself both out of my current job and into a new job by answering those questions and started working with the staff at the firm, managing those who support the patent practice, which by the way is like 95% of the sweat, guts, and tears, you know, or all of the folks who are the non-attorneys as we like to call them. Can I make a sidebar on Sidebars? Can we stop being an industry of people who had say attorneys and non-attorneys, can we all just be professionals? Okay, I'm done. Anyway.

April Abele Isaacson:

Absolutely. Yeah.

Stephanie Sanders:

As I was living my best life in my last position and changing things and moving around, I was going to conferences and meeting people and talking and doing my whole Stephanie thing. And one day, I get a phone call from a woman named Kathy Mitchell.

April Abele Isaacson:

We're not familiar with her at all.

Stephanie Sanders:

You don't know her? No? She's , she's not like the sole driving force of the IP Department? No, no, not her? Okay. Well , anyway, there's this woman, Kathy Mitchell. She's been at this law firm for well over 20 years. She is one of the smartest, most efficient, most effective human beings I've ever met in my entire life. So her. So I got a phone call from her and she says , "so-and-so referred me to, you were looking for a docketing manager. Do you happen to know anyone?" I said, "I don't know. Let me think about it." And it's so funny thinking about it now, knowing her, she tried to be slick. And she said something like, "well, what about you? Are you looking for a new job?" And I was like, "well, I don't want to be a docketing manager." She's like, "well, we might have something else that might be a fit for you..." Which the docketing manager thing was a total pretext, apparently. She just wanted to, you know, to see if I was open to talking. They did need a docketing manager, they got one, but anyway. So I said, "well, I'm listening. Tell me more." And she said, "I work at Kilpatrick Townsend and I am the Department Operations Officer for the IP Department at the firm. And we are looking for someone to help with all things people, process, and technology for our patent prosecution teams. Is that something you would be interested in?" And I, you could imagine me like at my desk putting my elbows down and my hands on my chin and going, "hmm say more, do tell?" And she starts describing that the firm has a patent operations committee and that they're committed to improving the effectiveness of the patent prosecution practice. Oh and by the way, at this general practice firm, there is the largest patent prosecution practice in the country, bigger than the boutique I was at. And you know, is this something you're interested in? I was absolutely interested. I interviewed, you know, and I was offered the position to come work at the firm and I made an executive decision and I don't exactly know, well , let me back up. I made the decision and I'm not sure what prompted it, that I was not going to pretend in any of those interviews. I was not going to put all my best interview face. I was not going to try to not say silly things or be funny. I just didn't have the energy. I was tired. I had a two year old, I just decided I was going to be me.

April Abele Isaacson:

Authentic.

Stephanie Sanders:

Authentically me, that's right. At least me at the moment. And it worked, they liked me for me. And I got the job and, you know, look, I live in the real world. I know that you have to be professional. And that sometimes you do things in some contexts and not in others. And certainly you can be more free with some people than others. But I just, I never tried to be more or less than what I was. If I thought something was a good idea, I would just say it because what's the worst they can do. Fire me? They're not going to fire me for a bad idea. Right? And maybe it's a good idea. You know, if I think something is funny, I laugh. If I think something is dorky, I laugh. You know, whatever it is, there are places and people and positions where you are the fit because of who you are not because of who you're trying to be. Right? And I think that had, I tried to be all very important, serious, they would have given me the job anyway. But I think then the firm would have been surprised by who they got after the fact, because I could only keep that up for so long. But I will tell you, April, back to your question about the imposter syndrome, it kind of came back when I started here because it's a big title. My title is Global Patent Operations Chief. That is a title. And I thought, "little me, man, there's no way, right? I can't do that job. They can't give me that title. That's ridiculous." But because it was such a good fit and because the folks at this firm are so amazing, that was, short-lived it faded. I felt so supported. I felt like all of my ideas people would take seriously. That's another thing, being taken seriously is very important. And the wonderful and talented Kathy Mitchell, who, by the way, sidebar to the Sidebars again, I'm going to do it again. Kilpatrick Townsend was one of the first firms to create a position that was a non-attorney, non-partner management position for a department. So Kathy Mitchell as the Department Operations Officer is also a woman in IP law who was a trailblazer. I believe that she was the CFO or the Chief, the Director of Finance at one of the predecessor firms. And they recruited her to come over to be the brand new DOO role in the IP department, which she took on with a plum and really is the lifeblood of this, of this department.

Kimberlynn Davis:

And I just need to echo that you are absolutely right. She is the epitome of, I don't know how she does it. She does it all efficiently with grace and , and she's the best thing ever. The caring grandmother on the one end and at the same time able to answer the question that you have at midnight. So just have to throw that in there. We love you , Kathy.

April Abele Isaacson:

Including when she's on vacation, by the way.

Stephanie Sanders:

You guys should do an episode on not working on vacation and how to turn off because Kathy and I talk about that a lot.

April Abele Isaacson:

We'll definitely talk about that. And I know we're coming up against our time and I really want to make sure that we get your perspective for the listeners about advice that you would have for someone who finds themselves to be the first or the only in the room.

Stephanie Sanders:

Be proud to be you and be proud that you are in that room. That's the only thing I can say. It was when I was an associate and someone would say to me, Stephanie, you know how to work the photocopy machine, right? Go make this copy. I think that had I had the presence of mind to say, "yeah, you know what? I do know how to make a photocopy . I'm going to go make that copy and I'll make the best fricking copy you've ever seen." I think that I would have been a lot happier. Now, should they have done that? That's a separate story, but be who you are, be proud to be there, know you belong there, and if you find yourself in a place that does not appreciate who you are and what you bring to the table, find another table.

April Abele Isaacson:

I love that. I really want to thank you for joining us today. I know personally, I've gotten so much out of the conversation and I'm sure our listeners have as well. So thank you very much for your time, Stephanie.

Stephanie Sanders:

Thank you so much April. And thank you, Kim. I should say for the listeners, these two women are superstars. You don't even understand what they do in their day job. And then they come together to put this program out there and how much time they spend on this. You guys have no idea. They are rock stars . And I bow down to both of you.

Kimberlynn Davis:

Thank you, Stephanie.

April Abele Isaacson:

Thank you.

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Thank you for joining us today. If you enjoyed Sidebars, we invite you to check out the Kilpatrick Townsend Medicine and Molecules blog at kilpatricktownsend.com to read, watch, and listen to other related insight on patent law. We'll also put that information in the show notes. The opinions expressed on this podcast are own and are not those of Kilpatrick Townsend.

Kimberlynn Davis:

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