Carving out a niche: Phil Ruben

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In today’s consumer marketplace, many people pay as much attention to how an object looks as they do to its purpose or function. While some might see this trend as strange, even frustrating, third-year student Phil Ruben sees opportunity. 

For the past two summers, Ruben has worked as a summer associate at the Chicago-based intellectual property law firm McAndrews Held & Malloy. His special area of interest: design patents.

“This is a rapidly growing area of patent law, with companies specializing in everything from technology to furniture seeking to protect their designs,” Ruben explained. “It’s a fascinating space to be in, and one that’s filled with opportunity.” Following graduation, Ruben will be working in the patent law sector full time, an achievement he attributes to his DePaul education and his experiences as a summer associate.

A mechanical engineering major at the University of Cincinnati, Ruben said he was attracted to the firm because of its highly technical bent and depth of experience. He began working his first summer in law school following an introduction from the Center for Intellectual Property Law & Information Technology’s (CIPLIT®)​ Executive Director Ellen Gutiontov. 

McAndrews is widely recognized in the intellectual property field and boasts one of the most highly regarded teams of IP attorneys, patent agents and technology specialists in the United States. Every attorney in the firm holds a degree in science or engineering and many have also worked in technology and IP-focused industries, a combination that dovetails nicely with Ruben’s background and experience. “My engineering degree program at Cincinnati was a mandatory five years and included a total of six co-op placements in the field, so I had worked at BMW Manufacturing and Dow Chemical before entering law school,” he explained.

Ruben spent his first summer at the firm conducting a variety of research projects, document reviews and prior art searches and enjoyed the work so much that he continued on with the firm part time through his second year of law school. His responsibilities expanded as his knowledge and experience grew. “I was assigned more writing projects and had the opportunity to draft a couple of motions and prepare several design patents,” he noted.

Ruben remained with McAndrews through his second summer in Chicago and was given the opportunity to work on a state-of-the-law memo for a big client’s inhouse counsel. “It was incredibly rewarding to have my work make its way into the client’s hands.”

Ruben said that his time at DePaul Law, as well as his summer associate work, has been invaluable in preparing him for a successful career in law. Although he’ll be continuing in a full-time position with McAndrews following graduation, he asserts that even if he hadn’t stayed with that particular firm, his summer associate experience would prove beneficial. 

“Being able to speak the lingo of your specialty and gaining hands-on experience while still in school makes you so much more marketable as a new attorney,” he observed. “Working on cases in a law firm introduces you to things that would never come up in the classroom, and you’re exposed to much more material than you could ever cover in a semester.

“I chose to attend DePaul because it offers an IP specialty,” Ruben noted. “The faculty is top-notch and the alumni network is tremendous. The school is well-known in the greater Chicago area, which is where I wanted to stay, and DePaul alumni have a reputation for being very supportive of one another and welcoming to recent graduates. From the first time I stepped onto campus, I really liked the culture I encountered, and that initial impression was borne out. I’ve had a great experience.”