UConn Law

Alumni Spotlight on: Richard Twilley, Class of 1996 (Engineering) and 2004 (Law)


What is your current position?
Patent Attorney
What year did you graduate from UConn? 1996 (engineering), 2004 (law)
Where did you go to law school? How did you choose that school?
UConn School of Law. The combination of the quality of the institution, its proximity to home, and the State’s offer of a veteran’s tuition waiver made my decision a no-brainer.
What year did you graduate from law school? 2004

UConn Experience

Major: Civil Engineering

How did your major help you prepare for law school and for practice?
Aside from teaching me to think like an engineer, my major did not prepare me for the rigors of the first year of law school. As a practicing Patent Attorney, however, my engineering training has been invaluable, and I continue to utilize what I learned in Storrs on a daily or even an hourly basis.

What organizations and activities (e.g., clubs, sports, study abroad) did you participate in while at UConn?
Tau Beta Pi Engineering Honor Society, Chi Epsilon civil engineering honor society, dorm council, etc.

What jobs or internships did you have while at UConn?
Connecticut Transportation Institute (analysis of highway safety data).

Did you take any time off?
Between college in law school, I served as a nuclear-trained propulsion officer in the U.S. Navy. I attended the Navy’s Officer Candidate School six weeks after graduation from the School of Engineering, and was commissioned in September 1996. My five-year commitment ended in the summer of 2001, in time for me to enroll at theĀ  School of Law in the fall.

What is one piece of advice you’d give to a current UConn student?
Four pieces of advice. First, pick some activity that interests you, and is both unrelated to your major, and not affiliated with your dorm — and run with it. UConn is such a large and diverse institution that we sometimes get too caught up in our studies and our neighbors, and fail to take advantage of all that our University has to offer. Get out there and meet people that you never would have met in class or on your floor. You won’t regret it.

Second, make as many connections as you can. Like you, your friends and classmates are also making big plans for success later in their lives. Get to know these connections while you are in Storrs, and maintain the connections as you progress in your career. You won’t have to look far to find an attorney or an accountant or an architect when you need one down the road if you became friends with an attorney, an architect and an accountant in college, for example.

Third, if you’re even remotely considering a career path (long-term) that may be different from your major, look into what it will require to travel down that path while you are in Storrs. For example, law school was always in the back of my mind (but never in the front) while I was at UConn, largely because I had my naval commission waiting for me after graduation. I didn’t start to consider law school as a next step until I decided to leave the Navy. As a result, I went into the LSATs completely cold, and had no idea how the legal job market worked when I arrived in law school. Dumb mistakes.

Fourth, UConn will need your love and support after you graduate just as much as it needs your love and support now. Never forget to give back to UConn, and to UConn students who will follow you, after you graduate. Students today, Huskies forever.

Law School Experience

What programs did you participate in during law school?
Insurance Law Journal, Connecticut Urban Legal Initiative.

Were you active in any student groups? Which?
Elected as graduate student member of the University’s Board of Trustees, 2002-2004.

Did your involvement with those specific programs or organizations help you in your career path or in any other ways?
Not necessarily; I didn’t turn to patent law until after I left law school.

What is one piece of advice you wish someone had given you before law school?
Prepare for the LSATs. Know how legal hiring works. (That’s two pieces of advice, but they’re equally important.)

Work Experience

Describe your practice setting.
Small firm — approx. 15 attorneys.

Area(s) of practice.
Intellectual Property, primarily Patents but also Trademarks and Copyrights.

How did you choose this area of law?
I found intellectual property in general, and patents in particular, to be remarkably interesting but only after being bored to tears with traditional civil litigation.

Is there a typical day? How would you describe it?
Prepare patent applications for filing with the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office, or USPTO; prosecute patent applications before the USPTO (e.g., respond to administrative actions received from the USPTO); communicate with clients by E-mail or telephone; occasionally prepare and prosecute trademark applications before the USPTO.

How many hours per week do you work? What is your schedule?
50-80. Arrive at the office around 8:00-8:30, work until around 5:30-6:00, go home, have dinner with my family, put the kids to bed, pop open the computer again.

Describe your work/life balance.
Occasionally very challenging. It is rare for me to not open the computer after our kids have gone to bed, and equally rare for me to do nothing on weekends.

What do you like most about your job? What would you change?
Working with inventors — from companies ranging from small Connecticut start-ups to Fortune 100 high-tech giants — of cutting-edge technology and helping them protect their rights in their claimed inventions or marks. I’d like to cut back on procrastinating.

If you couldn’t be a lawyer anymore, what would you do? If you had a career before becoming a lawyer, what was it?
Taking my knowledge and experience in IP to the financial sector. Advising venture capitalists and private equity firms on the viability and value of patents and/or pending patent applications.

Prior to attending law school, and out of college, I was an officer in the U.S. Navy.

Just for fun: If you could have dinner with any lawyer, real or fiction, living or dead, who would it be and why?
Two, just for fun, one living and one dead — Antonin Scalia and Earl Warren, two prominent right-leaning and left-leaning justices on the U.S. Supreme Court in the last 100 years.