Mark Brown/University of St. Thomas

Law Alumni Who Protect Creators' Innovations

Jason Lorfing ’06 J.D. | Partner

Kory Kotrba ’09 J.D. | Partner

Scott Pederson ’11 J.D. | Partner

Nathan Gallus ’12 J.D. | Patent Attorney

Why did you go to law school?

KOTRBA: Out of college I was offered a position to work as a chemical engineer for an international oil company and nearly accepted. However, my interest in law and innovation steered me toward law school and ultimately IP law.

Why IP law?

GALLUS: I took an IP survey course at St. Thomas and realized I could integrate my science background with my interest in the law. Then I took a patent survey course, a patent drafting course, and a trademarks course and landed an internship in Medtronic’s Corporate Patents Division. After interning, I loved the field and knew I wanted to pursue patent law.

What’s the best part of your practice?

LORFING: The subject matter is not repetitive or routine. While the mechanics of the work may repeat, the subject matter is new and interesting. It’s like being paid to be a student in many respects.

What’s a challenging part of your practice?

PEDERSON: Working with individuals who do not share the same passion or excitement of the practice. This area of law is not right for everyone and it can be very draining if it is not something you are passionate about doing.

Who is your professional hero?

GALLUS: My childhood hero was Neil Armstrong as my biggest aspiration was going to the moon. That still rings true in that he was a symbol of the greatness that innovation and vision can achieve, something I take pride in helping others do in protecting their own ideas each day.

LORFING: I don’t have an individual hero, but I really look up to people who are diligent, meticulous and precise in their writing, despite the economic pressure to be satisfied with “good enough.”

What is a misconception about IP law and your response to it?

KOTRBA: That the patent bar is a “science” exam. It is not. The patent bar focuses on the technical qualifications to be a patent attorney/agent. There is zero actual science on the patent bar.

LORFING: Some people think that patent applications are geared toward “Eureka!” ideas or entirely new technology. While those exist, most of the work is directed toward improvements to existing technology.

What do you wish for your practice?

PEDERSON: I wish there were more hours in the day. More time for debating with colleagues, discussing with inventors and making sure everything is perfect is a wish for almost every application.

GALLUS: One, to draft my own patent that is exclusively my own invention. And two, as every Minnesota patent attorney strives for, to draft the most interesting fishing or hunting gear patent to brag about to all my friends.

This story is featured in the fall 2021 issue of St. Thomas Lawyer.

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