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Attorney from a top IP law firm to lead Penn State Law Intellectual Property Clinic


UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – Rachel Herder, an attorney at a leading intellectual property law firm who has a Ph.D. in molecular, cellular, developmental biology, and genetics, will join the Penn State Law faculty on June 1 as director of the Intellectual Property Clinic and assistant professor of clinical law.

Herder is currently an associate in the Boston office of Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, where, as a member of the firm’s patents and innovation practice, she advises startup life science clients on various aspects of intellectual property law, including patent prosecution and litigation, university licensing, and Food and Drug Administration and healthcare regulations.

“Rachel Herder’s background, at the leading edge of science, innovation, and the law, is perfect for leading the Penn State Law Intellectual Property Clinic,” said James W. Houck, interim dean and Distinguished Scholar in Residence. “Her guidance and experience will be invaluable for our students in the IP clinic as they work to provide IP law counsel to protect the innovations of Penn State students, faculty, and staff.”

In her practice at Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, Herder provides comprehensive counseling to clients on intellectual property and related business strategy with a focus on emerging companies. She manages global patent dockets, counsels clients in a variety of technology transactions, and analyzes intellectual property portfolios, including IP due diligence and freedom to operate. Herder also has client counseling and litigation experience related to diagnostic testing and gene patents.

“I am delighted that Rachel Herder has agreed to spearhead our cutting-edge Intellectual Property Clinic,” said Dean Designate Hari Osofsky. “She is an ideal fit for the position, with work experience at a leading IP firm in patent and entrepreneurship law and an interdisciplinary research profile that will help us build bridges across the University. I also am excited to be welcoming a J.D./Ph.D. graduate from the Joint Degree Program in Law, Science & Technology at the University of Minnesota, which I currently direct. She has been one of our most active alumni, reaching out to students to mentor them and help with their job searches, and I know she will be a wonderful resource for Penn State Law students.”

At the University of Minnesota, Herder’s Ph.D. work focused on neuropeptide regulation of steroid hormone biosynthesis in insects. Her scientific research has been published in Development, the Journal of Neuroscience, and Plant Cell, among other publications. Prior to enrolling in the J.D./Ph.D. program at the University of Minnesota, Herder was an associate research scientist in the Botany Department at the University of Wisconsin–Madison.

Herder’s teaching and mentoring experience includes serving as an adviser in the Harvard Law Entrepreneurship Project, where she provided guidance to law students advising a startup client on patentability and freedom to operate. She has also served as a lecturer and teaching assistant at the University of Minnesota.

In addition to her J.D. and Ph.D., Herder holds a bachelor’s degree in molecular, cellular and developmental biology from the University of Colorado Boulder.

At Penn State Law, Herder will join the law school’s IP faculty in teaching doctrinal intellectual property law classes and guide law students in the Intellectual Property Clinic as they provide pro bono legal services to individuals, startups, and small businesses with limited financial resources.

Launched in fall 2016, the Intellectual Property Clinic is one of nine clinics available to students at Penn State Law. It is designed to provide second- and third-year law students with practical experience in legal research, advocacy, client contact and counseling, and administrative and transactional practice. Working closely with the Penn State Law Entrepreneur Assistance Clinic, the IP Clinic provides clients with a variety of legal services related to IP matters, including general IP counseling, patent searches and patentability advice and opinions, U.S. provisional and non-provisional patent application filings and prosecution, trademark and copyright  matters, and IP agreement and licensing matters.

The Entrepreneur Assistance and IP Clinics are located in the Happy Valley LaunchBox, a no-cost business accelerator operated by Penn State in downtown State College, Pennsylvania, that is designed to provide early-stage entrepreneurs with legal, business, and professional advice and assistance. The LaunchBox is a signature program of the Invent Penn State Initiative, a Commonwealth-wide program designed to spur economic development, job creation, and student career success. Invent Penn State blends entrepreneurship-focused academic programs, business startup training and incubation, funding for commercialization, and University-community collaborations to facilitate the challenging process of turning research discoveries into valuable products and services that can benefit Pennsylvanians and humankind.

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