I recently wrote about my experiences teaching a course, Intellectual Property and Healthcare Technologies, at Cornell Law School. I received a lot of questions and comments about that post so I decided to write a follow up with a few more lessons that I learned while teaching at Cornell Law. I hope these lessons can teach both instructors and students (after all, aren’t we all students?) about what worked for me and how some of these lessons can be incorporated into presentations, written materials, and even daily practices.
First, the benefit of collaborations cannot be understated. As I previously mentioned, since my course at Cornell was longer than my course at Harvard, I had the opportunity to expand the subject matter that I taught. To help teach some of the new topics, I engaged experts from the field to help lead the class discussions. In particular, I invited Michael Carrier, a leading expert in pharmaceutical antitrust law and Distinguished Professor at Rutgers Law School, and Joe Fuhrer Jr., Professor Emeritus of Economics Widener University, to teach classes on antitrust and drug pricing, respectively. Not only did I get to know these two professionals better by inviting and hearing them lecturer, but so did the students. Networking is an important part of almost any job, especially in business and law, and the students and I both benefited from having these experts present.
Second, working with students throughout the semester resulted in better final papers. I know many people like to procrastinate when writing their papers, whether it be a final paper for a class, a brief, an agreement, or even a patent application. I know I certainly did. The lesson I learned, however, is that the students who started outlining and writing their papers and submitted their papers to me for comments early on in the semester were the ones who ended up producing the better papers. Rarely is anything you write perfect the first time around. To produce your best possible product, you have to start early, receive feedback (whether from a teacher, a colleague, or a client), and implement the necessary changes to take your paper to the next level.
Third, examples, example, examples! The life science industry is certainly filled with examples on any given topic, particularly when it comes to drugs and the controversies surrounding them. One of the biggest improvements I made to my slides this year was adding more real-life examples. If we talked about building a diverse patent portfolio, we looked at Humira® and the 100+ patents protecting that drug. If we talked about antitrust, we examined the current case surrounding Remicade®and allegations of inappropriate rebates and bundling. If we talked about potential legislative reforms to the brand and generic/biosimilar dynamic, we evaluated recent proposals by Congress, the FDA, and the Trump administration. I also encouraged students to include specific case studies and examples in their papers to better illustrate the points they were trying to make. Providing examples not only puts concepts into perspective, it also makes presentations and papers more engaging.
Fourth, I encouraged students to publish their works. As mentioned in my first point, networking is a very important part of one’s job in business and law. Another part of the job is getting your name out there and being recognized. One great way of doing that is to write and publish your work. When I first started practicing, I was fortunate enough to work with partners who really valued the benefit of publishing legal articles whether it be in newspapers, magazines, or business journals. As a result, I got into a habit of writing and publishing my work. Many of my speaking opportunities down the road and clients that I engaged came because someone read something that I wrote. Since my class was a writing class and students had to write a paper, I also wanted to encourage them to try to get their papers published. By publishing their papers, not only are the students be able to add a publication to their resumes, but they also start getting their names out there.
Finally, take any opportunity you can find for personal and professional growth. Since I had to drive every week to and from Cornell (about an hour and forty-five minutes each way), I spent a lot of time in the car by myself. I took this time to listen to audiobooks through Audible. In fact, the best thing I did for myself last year was to invest in Audible. I listened to everything from negotiation books such as Never Split the Difference, to personal development books such as The Power of Habit, to fun books like Crazy Rich Asians. I admittedly did not achieve many of the professional goals I had set for myself for 2018, but I did achieve my goal of reading (or listening to) at least 60 books in 2018! I have a whole list of books that I can highly recommend if anyone is interested. Time alone in a car is not only a good time for reflection, but also a good time to consume information. Listening to audiobooks was a great way for me to learn a lot of new content while also making my drive more enjoyable.
I hope you enjoyed learning from my experiences. Please feel free to reach out with any questions or comments.
BioPharma Law Blog posts updates and analyses on IP topics, FDA regulatory issues, emerging legal developments, and other news in the constantly evolving world of biotech, pharma, and medical devices.