Ryan McCleary: Intellectual Property Law Career Expands Horizons with LL.M. Degree
"It really came down to flexibility for me. I work full time - and have for the past 15 years. I didn’t want to give that up. Cooley Law School gave me the flexibility I needed by offering online and evening classes so I could get my LL.M. degree.
For Ryan McCleary, shareholder with Young Basile in Troy, Michigan, getting his LL.M. degree in Intellectual Property was just an extension of his education after obtaining his Juris Doctor from Cooley Law School. For him it was the logical continuation to expand into more areas of law.
"It just made sense for me," said McCleary. "It was a good career move to expand my horizons. I was so focused on patents - patent prosecution and patent litigation - that an LL.M. would make me more well-rounded." I could expand into other areas of interest, like trademarks and trade secrets."
Being able to take classes online also helped McCleary take that next step, especially as a busy professional.
"What I really remember about the online classes is that it gave me the flexibility to not have to drive to the campus," said McCleary. " I’m only 20 minutes away from the Auburn Hills campus, but you’d be amazed how 20 minutes there and 20 minutes back can add up, especially when you’re working 10 to 11 hours a day in a law firm. Having that flexibility to take classes at home or from my office helped me continue forward in the program at a good pace."
The thing that really impressed McCleary about Cooley’s LL.M. program was learning from faculty that truly knew why they were teaching and what they were teaching.
“All the faculty had real life experiences,” said McCleary. “They weren’t just college professors. When they explained something in class, they were speaking from doing and understanding. They could explain the law in a better way – in a way you could actually understand. I thought that was incredibly valuable.
“The professors ranged from a Chief Intellectual Property counsel of consumer companies to an Intellectual Property expert from an automotive company. Learning from their real life experiences helped to crystallize the lessons that they were teaching in class.”
Now that McCleary has been working in the Intellectual Property field for many years, he has discovered something in the hiring process.
“The one thing I’ve noticed is that it’s hard to find qualified attorneys with technical backgrounds,” ascertained McCleary. “I feel like there’s a dearth of folks in the market, particularly with computer backgrounds – which is my background – that should learn how to understand both the technology and the law. That’s something where Cooley’s programs can really help. It is a platform to enable people to enter into the law especially if they are already practicing in industry. I had 10 years of experience in the industry before I started in my law profession, and I believe giving people the ability to continue that is a lower risk for them. People can pick up essential skills they need and they would be a welcome asset to the IP industry because those are the type of skilled individuals we want to hire.”