School of Law alum Hiep Pham ’12, Senior Intellectual Property Counsel for Cargill, poses for a photo in a cornfield west of the Twin Cities. Mark Brown/University of St. Thomas

Alumni Profile: Hiep Pham ’12 J.D.

Cargill, Senior Intellectual Property Counsel

Why did you go to law school?

I was a software engineer open to a career pivot. A friend (now my wife) was in law school and suggested I might enjoy it. She was right!

Why IP law?

I didn’t want my engineering background to pigeonhole me into IP, but in hindsight it was inevitable. It’s a great area of law for those who enjoy science and technology.

What’s the best part of your practice?

I get to advise and help people be successful!

Who is your professional hero?

My dad. He came to America as a refugee at 20 years old not knowing English and owning literally the clothes on his back. He worked his way up in the engineering world and to date is the inventor on over 100 patents. He was the first person to help me understand the value of intellectual property.

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

That it’s one-dimensional, transactional work. I really enjoy opportunities to negotiate, advocate and be business minded.

What do you wish for your practice?

Never stop learning, building trust and investing in relationships. Those are the cornerstones of a successful and enjoyable practice.

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

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