Rebecca Larsen 0000-00-00 00:00:00
Alicia Corbett, a partner at Keller Rohrback, PLC in Phoenix, always thought she would have a career in science. After all, she came from a family of scientists and engineers. She even majored in microbiology at Arizona State and received a research fellowship from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute to study how to more efficiently genetically engineer a particular type of bacteria used in environmental cleanup efforts. She presented her findings at a research conference – quite an achievement as an undergraduate. “But along the way I realized being in a laboratory the rest of my life wouldn’t work for me,” Corbett said. “And suddenly I didn’t know what I wanted to do next. I had always planned to get a Ph.D. in the sciences.” At that point her father suggested law school, and she went on to be accepted at Duke University Law School, receiving a scholarship limited to women in the sciences entering law. “It was a great fit for me. As it turned out, I have found that I can use my science background in my work,” Corbett said. Prior to graduating from law school in 2002, she passed the patent bar on her first try at age 23. Now about half her time at Keller Rohrback is devoted to clients who make use of her expertise in the sciences for their corporate, securities and intellectual property legal needs. With her microbiology background, she can assist biotechnology, life science and other medically related companies to explain their complicated proprietary intellectual property in the “plain English” required by securities laws. She is also able to help technology firms and other companies take care of the paperwork and regulations involved in going public or raising money privately. One current client, for example, is a Washington state company, IsoRay, Inc., that produces “seeds” – tiny metal tubes smaller than a grain of rice -- that are filled with a proprietary radioactive isotope and injected into cancerous tumors. “We began representing them when they were private, advised them through the process of becoming a publicly traded, NYSE AMEX-listed company, and as they raised over $30 million in public and private financings over the past eight years,” she said. “When I visited their manufacturing facility for the first time, the scientists and engineers were excited that I could understand so easily what they were talking about.” Keller Rohrback, based in Seattle, has 10 attorneys in Phoenix. Here Corbett works as part of a team of three attorneys focusing on technology companies but also working with other commercial clients in a variety of industries, as well as representing multiple private equity and venture leasing companies. Her specialties include handling public and private securities offerings and compliance, as well as licensing, sales, distribution and manufacturing agreements. Corbett’s expertise in licensing agreements means that she can interface between patent attorneys, scientists and the business executives who need a proprietary technology licensed. She also files trademarks for her clients for products and services ranging from yoga instruction to premium spirits. “Alicia is extremely talented and works very quickly and efficiently,” said Stephen Boatwright, who heads the team that Corbett works with. “Her science background is really beneficial for intellectual property clients with regard to securities issues.” Corbett and Boatwright both also worked together previously at Gammage & Burnham in Phoenix. In 2007, Corbett was diagnosed with a chronic illness, but has not let that stop her from continuing not only handling a full-time workload, but also her active lifestyle, including yoga, kickboxing and weight lifting. Corbett is an avid golfer and especially enjoys playing at We-Ko-Pa Golf Club and with the local Women on Course group. “It’s so great for business as well as pleasure,” she said. For the past three years, she has also volunteered with the Public Health Law & Policy Program at the ASU law school. In 2010, she co-authored an article with Prof. James Hodge and two law students about regulating caffeine consumption by children. “It’s so rewarding to use my science background together with law to influence policies that can have a real impact on the public’s health.” She agrees that law can be a good career choice for women. “Many more women are graduating from law school now, but, like science, it’s still a male-dominated profession,” she said. “But I see that as an advantage, not an obstacle.”
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