Science wizard


MSU Law alumna specializes in IP Law

By Sheila Pursglove
Legal News

As a seventh-grader, in anticipation of a class trip to the Daley Center in downtown Chicago, Jewell Nile Briggs wrote an expectation essay in which she remembers passionately describing how she wanted to be a lawyer when she grew up. Briggs is now an intellectual property attorney with Harness, Dickey & Pierce, PLC in Troy where she counsels clients across a range of industries, from chemical and biopharma laboratories to large electrical and heavy manufacturing companies.

During her senior year at Loyola University in Chicago - where Briggs earned a triple undergraduate degree, cum laude, in biology, forensic science, and chemistry - a forensic professor required students to observe a hearing at a courthouse. Briggs once again found herself at the Daley Center, the only non-attorney/non-party in the courtroom.

"The judge noticed me and during a recess welcomed me into her chambers," Briggs says. "We had a wonderfully fruitful conversation, and that afternoon, after not really giving it much thought since seventh grade, I decided to go to law school."

Her initial experiences at Michigan State University College of Law were challenging, but she went on to graduate last year - also cum laude.

"I was completely unprepared for law school," she says. "I knew very little about legal education and was unprepared for the drastic difference from the lab room teaching style I had become accustomed to during undergrad. The first year, the first semester especially, was a struggle, but in the end I succeeded."

A highlight of law school was her experience of the Patent Moot Court, and in March 2015 she won Best Appellant Brief at the AIPLA Giles Sutherland Rich Memorial Moot Court Competition in Chicago.

"The practical aspect really drew me to participating in Moot Court," she says. "A lot of information is thrown at students in law school, but the application of that information isn't necessarily immediately self-evident. I believe this is especially true for law students coming from heavy science backgrounds who are accustomed to learning in labs and group settings. I've found my experiences with the Patent Moot Court quite relevant to my present practice."

In addition to blogging for the student-run Beyond Clause 8 (BC8), and being a sub-citer for the Journal of Business & Securities Law, Briggs also joined the Intellectual Property Law Society (IPLS), and spent a year as vice president.

"When I moved to Michigan for law school, I knew no one. Living off-campus and working as a home-health-care aide, I had no established support group," she says. "I got involved with IPLS originally to fill that void and immediately knew I found my niche - a group of people who had my same experiences, who thought the same way I did, a group that made me feel liked I belonged and who made the rest of law school a lot easier."

During law school, she worked as an intellectual property legal intern at Dow Corning in Midland and as a legal extern at Elder Law of Michigan in Lansing. She also took an MSU Law class taught by Monte Falcoff, a Principal at Harness Dickey.

"I didn't have a lot of experience with IP at that point and was understandably nervous," she says. "I didn't want to get off on the wrong foot before I even had a real chance to get started, so I worked hard to perform well in the class."

She went on to work as a summer associate at Harness Dickey in 2015, clerked there throughout her 3L year, and joined as an associate last fall.

"One of the things I love about my job is that I'm constantly learning something new," she says. "I'm consistently amazed how invested the inventors can be in improving their fields."

A member of the American Intellectual Property Law Association, Michigan Bar Association, Michigan Intellectual Property Law Association, and Macomb County Bar Association, Briggs a became a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) in her junior year of high school in Alaska and worked as a CNA through her 1L year.

"My work as a CNA has had a huge impact on my life," she says. "I learned the meaning of true compassion and dedication, and the importance of living in and enjoying the here and now. It's an underrated profession and those who do it, and do it well, deserve a lot more credit. My work as a CNA has made me particularly conscientious of the ever growing need for continued technological advancements."

A native of the South Side of Chicago, Briggs lives in Warren in Macomb County, where she and her husband are working on a fixer-upper house. "It's quite amazing I think, together we built a house that we truly love and plan to enjoy for many years to come," she says. "When we aren't working on miscellaneous house projects, we spoil our two puppies and three cats."

Briggs also enjoys spending time with her five younger siblings. "We're each other's best friends and biggest supporters. I wouldn't be who I am, or where I am, without them," she says. "They pushed me to achieve and helped me tear down all the road blocks in-between. Our parents taught us to be our own best advocates and that no task is insurmountable with hard work and dedication. I try to apply these same lessons to my work at Harness Dickey."

Published: Mon, Feb 27, 2017