Frau in Hochhaus

Veröffentlicht am 05.04.2021

Women in IP

Sommer Blackman and Danielle Soucie sharing their experiences about studying at the University of New Hampshire Franklin Pierce School of Law

Danielle Soucie: I am originally from Israel, where I practiced law since 2018. In 2019 I decided to follow my childhood dream to study abroad and moved to the US to start my LL.M. at UNH Franklin Pierce. After successfully completing my LL.M. in Intellectual Property degree, I started working in a boutique law firm, Marder, Roberson & DeFelice Law offices LLC, in Vernon, Connecticut (CT). Where, among the practice of civil and commercial litigation, I practice intellectual property.
Sommer Blackman: As a Black woman with the opportunity to practice intellectual property law in New York City, I am grateful for the education provided by the courses and instruction at UNH Franklin Pierce School of Law. I graduated feeling equipped with the requisite knowledge that employers are looking for when hiring LL.M. graduates.

Danielle Soucie and Sommer Blackman
Danielle Soucie and Sommer Blackman

Ms. Soucie the UNH Franklin Pierce Intellectual Property program has been ranked in the top 10 in the United States for nearly 30 years and no other law school has such an impact on IP Law and the infrastructure. According to you, why is an LL.M. and a specialization in IP important to attorneys, and why did you choose Intellectual Property?

Danielle Soucie: I find that it is important to have this specialization when you either come from a technical background (have a science degree), or are an attorney who wishes to practice IP. Having more education on the topic is important before transferring to practice in this very complex and sophisticated field of law.

What are the benefits of an LL.M. degree in IP Law at UNH Law and what does the program at the Franklin Pierce Center for Intellectual Property entail?

Danielle Soucie: There are many benefits but to name a few: 

  1. The faculty of professors are in the top of the field. 
  2. Most of the degree is very practical and at the end you leave with work products to show potential employers. For example: licensing agreement; trademark registrations; cease and desist letter, etc.
  3. The environment at UNH Law is very intimate and that helps a foreign student adjust more to life abroad, have a more personal connection with the staff, faculty and other students, and creates a bond among classmates that will last a lifetime.

The program entails the most interesting classes and projects. You learn about IP, but you can take Bar Exam prep classes as well. It is very diverse and offers the most interesting classes. 

How did you experience the first weeks of the LL.M. program in New Hampshire and are there any courses that you would highlight as particularly useful and rewarding?

Danielle Soucie: The first week or second week were hard to adjust to coming back to school and being a beginner again. But the school offered all the support possible with orientation week, explanations about every question on the minds of international students (for example: how to get a New Hampshire driver's license), and the approachable faculty and staff kept an open-door policy all year long. Professor Ann Bartow (my Copyright Law professor) even took all the LL.M.'s to lunch with fellow students to keep us engaged among our peers and make connections. 

Courses that I would highlight: Entertainment Law and Trademarks with Professor Alexandra Roberts; Licensing Agreements and E-commerce and the Law – or any class with Professor Murphy; Copyrights or Fundemntals of Intellectual Property (FUN IP); and Mergers and Acquisitions with Professor John Orcutt. I would also recommend that if you come from a technical background you should take Patent Law.

Pioneered legal education for the digital age: The University of New Hampshire Franklin Pierce School of Law

Ms. Blackman, you studied your LL.B. at Cardiff University and got in touch with UNH Franklin Pierce through the Mosaic Conference in 2018. How do you look back on this event and what impressed you most about UNH Law and its IP program?

Sommer Blackman: I found out about the Mosaic Conference through one of my mentors. Prior to this Conference, UNH was not a contender (for my LL.M.), but after the Conference, I gained much interest as I met the professors, appreciated UNH's small community; and was intrigued by the school's breadth of IP course offerings.

Out of the all the courses I took, I was most impressed with the practicality of the Technology Licensing course. This course required students to study the meaning of critical licensing agreement provisions; Practice drafting agreements, and pushed us to get comfortable negotiating agreements. The course that I enjoyed the most was Entertainment Law. I truly enjoyed how the professor structured the course to include many class discussions on recent entertainment news, an independent study, and negotiate a simulated real-life deal.

Scholarships for your LL.M. at UNH Franklin Pierce School of Law

UNH Franklin Pierce offers international students a number of generous, partial tuition scholarships.
For more details, visit UNH's profile
→ Scholarships at Franklin Pierce School of Law

You were also the first LL.M. student joining the Law Review of the Franklin Pierce Center for Intellectual Property: IDEA. What tasks did you have there and what experience did you gain?

Summer Blackman: Yes. I was very pleased to be named such. Due to the timing of my appointment and COVID, I was not able to have a full Law Review experience. However, as I was the first LL.M. student on the Law Review, I suggested a framework and process going forward for what the application and recruitment process should be for future LL.M. students.

As JD students are advised of the opportunity the previous year and start the application process during the summer, LL.M.'s are left out of this process. As the LL.M. program is only one year, we want to take advantage of all the possible opportunities available to us. So, I am happy that my LL.M. class representative advocated for us to have the chance to expand our extra-curricular offerings to the Law Review. 
Before starting your LL.M. at UNH Franklin Pierce you already had five years of experience practicing law. How did you feel about the change from practical to theoretical work and was the LL.M. in IP essential for your further career path?

Summer Blackman: In my practice as a real estate lawyer, I was counseling clients and ensuring title was free from any issues. My practice did not include many opportunities for deep research on topics. Also, as a person who is equally interested in the research and study of laws, I was excited to get the chance to have a full focus on theory. I specifically went to law school to become an IP & Entertainment lawyer. My path has not been direct, so the LL.M. was essential for me to gain the required knowledge to further my career. I am glad I made the leap to go back to school and pleased that I completed this schooling at UNH. 

The program entails most interesting classes and projects. You learn about IP, but you can take Bar Exam prep classes as well.
Danielle Soucie

Ms. Soucie, you started searching for a job in January 2020. But due to the Covid-19 pandemic, a lot of employers stopped hiring new attorneys. How did you handle this situation and how did the application process go for you?

Danielle Soucie: I had to think more about how I was going to make connections when no one was hiring. I worked on my CV and LinkedIn page, joined many groups, and started making those connections.

I also volunteered to do law work to gain experience in the U.S. market. I found that by the time I graduated, there were open positions out there and I just had to put an emphasis on making those connections and conversations that would eventually lead me to get a job.

You found a job at a law firm as a law clerk in Connecticut. Did you already know that you wanted to stay in the U.S., especially in Connecticut and how did your time at UNH Franklin Pierce have an impact on your decision?

Danielle Soucie: I knew that I would either move to Connecticut or stay in New Hampshire. I have family in CT and that was my plan all along. Graduating and moving to CT with a purpose of staying in the U.S. My time at UNH Franklin Pierce made me want to stay in NH; it is a beautiful state and the people are lovely, but at the end of the day I wanted to stay close to family and decided to move to CT. 

Before you started working for your current employer, you had already worked for various law firms. In your opinion, is previous professional experience beneficial (such as internships) especially in the U.S.?

Danielle Soucie: I believe that international legal experience is important, but more important is the experience you gain in the U.S. market. Therefore I recommend doing as much as possible to find opportunities to volunteer and show your skills in the U.S. market by taking on any position that fits you. 

First insights into IP Law at UNH

Ms. Blackman, soon after your graduation you found work in the U.S. Did you face any problems that have arisen in the wake of the Coronavirus Pandemic in the world of work and job applications?

Sommer Blackman: With the unexpected arrival of COVID, I delayed reaching out to many lawyers because I knew firms were in a state of unknown and many had to let employees go. I was extremely doubtful that I would find employment because of this uncertain time. Applying to jobs online just did not seem like the right approach for me. I thought the best way to really connect would be through Zoom and phone calls.

I decided to reach out to lawyers in New York to start building a network. I entered the conversations enthusiastically and gratefully. To my surprise, my second phone call on my third day in New York resulted in an offer. I attribute this to sheer resilience in the face of immense adversity. I truly think employers notice these characteristics in candidates right away.

You are currently working at a New York law firm practicing entertainment, trademark, and copyright law. Did you have any practical experience in IP Law before coming to UNH Franklin Pierce, and what do you particularly like about working in the field of Intellectual Property?

Summer Blackman: A small percentage of my work prior to coming to UNH Law was in trademark, copyright and entertainment, specifically music law. As a law student, I also had a breadth of experience in various parts of the entertainment industry: I was a summer student at a top Entertainment law firm in Toronto; I worked at a music management company; and I worked in the royalties department at a labor union representing professional musicians. My entertainment law focus is music, so I enjoy working with artists to get them interested in understanding how they can monetize their music in various forms, and how carefully reviewing recording agreement provisions can really save them from headache in their career. 
The UNH Franklin Pierce School of Law alumni community includes alumni in all 50 states and in over 80 countries. How important do you think networking is and how did you build your network at UNH?

Summer Blackman: Networking is Queen! I'm a sociable person, so cold calling, or striking up a conversation with a stranger comes naturally to me. You never know where the next opportunity will come from. I recently learned to go where you are not expected. Attending an event full of a room of IP lawyers would not have the same effect as an event whose primary attendees are inventors, or small businesses, or musicians!

I built my network at UNH by being specific: I advised my professors what kind of job I was interested in, and they thought of people they could connect me with. After speaking with that connection, my conversations always ended with asking if they minded introducing me to one or two people. I continued that strategy and gained many connections in New York using this method.

Your LL.M. at UNH Franklin Pierce School of Law

Ms. Soucie, did your alumni connections help you while preparing for your job applications and in finding your employment?

Danielle Soucie: Yes, some alumni helped me get connected and learn about opportunities here in the U.S. 
Are you still in touch with UNH Franklin Pierce alumni and how do you look back on your time in New Hampshire and your student life?

Danielle Soucie: I am mostly in touch with my fellow classmates of 2020. I look back at it with great memories and I miss NH and the school a lot! 
Ms. Blackman, what advice would you give fellow students regarding networking and choosing to study the LL.M. in IP Law?
Sommer Blackman:

  1. Do not limit your networking to just lawyers. Also network with those adjacent to your interest(s). If you are interested in working as a music lawyer, network with music managers, booking agents, etc. 
  2. Make sure that you can answer why you want to pursue an LL.M. degree. The road is rocky, but if you are resilient, remain motivated and surround yourself with likeminded people, you will achieve your goals and dreams.
Networking is Queen! I’m a sociable person, so cold calling, or striking up a conversation with a stranger comes naturally to me. You never know where the next opportunity will come from.
Sommer Blackman

Your conclusion?

Danielle Soucie: I recommend that anyone who wants to step out of their comfort zone and who is interested in IP law study at UNH Franklin Pierce. You won't regret it. Please feel welcome to connect with me on LinkedIn if you would like to learn more.
Sommer Blackman: The IP Program at UNH Franklin Pierce was just what I needed to further my career as an IP & Entertainment lawyer. I really learned a lot from the courses and have put into practice what I learned on a daily basis. Moving to New York during the Pandemic was risky, but I do not regret the risk because it has provided great rewards.

University of New Hampshire Franklin Pierce School of Law

University of New Hampshire Franklin Pierce School of Law

Any Questions? Find here the contact details of Sarah Dorner, Director of Graduate  and International Admissions