Alumnus Melding Science and the Legal Profession

Alumnus Eric Gorman (JD ’10) has found his niche, and it’s a place that ensures he’s always on top of what’s hot or what’s cool in his realm.

That’s because Gorman is the patent examiner who specializes in heating and cooling systems at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, which opened its first satellite operation in Detroit in July 2012.

Born and raised in the Detroit suburbs, Gorman was an undergraduate studying mechanical engineering at Michigan State University when a patent attorney visited the school and first sparked his interest in combining his science background with a law degree.

After earning his bachelor’s degree, Gorman worked for a year as an engineer before entering law school. With his JD degree, he worked for several intellectual property law firms, but now he gets to combine engineering and the law in this new position.

“Working with both technology and the law makes my days incredibly interesting and varied, since I use all of my background and training,” Gorman said. “Something new comes across my desk every other day, and as an engineer I really enjoy that.”

Gorman notes that the Patent Office goal is to deliver new inventions for the public to use, but, he adds, “We just want to make sure that there are not two patents out there for the same thing.”

Gorman said he believed his John Marshall degree helped him get his foot in the door at the Patent Office.

“Everyone at the patent office has a science background, but if you have no legal background they put you through six months of training,” Gorman said. “But because of my John Marshall degree and legal experience, I had just one month of training.”

Gorman speaks highly of the patent courses he took while attending John Marshall as laying the foundation for his career. He researched John Marshall and decided to attend because of the depth and variety of patent courses that were being taught by Chicago practitioners.

Additionally, Gorman made some connections worth noting while at John Marshall: He met fiancée Katina Malis (JD ’10) when both were in the same section as first-year law students. She lives in the Detroit area and practices elder law, working remotely for a Chicago law firm. The two plan to wed in May 2013.