I couldn’t think of a better way to begin third year of law school than by participating in the Intellectual Property Law & Technology Intensive Program. Rather than spending my semester in a series of classrooms, I spent 10 weeks learning about the practice of law in an in-house setting. For anyone with an avid interest in pharmaceutical patent law, Apotex is a fantastic place to complete an IP internship. During my placement, I learned how patent law is applied in the context of the Canadian pharmaceutical industry and I was exposed to pharmaceutical patent laws from other jurisdictions.
How Do Intellectual Property Lawyers Interact Within a Larger Company?
During my time at Apotex, I had the opportunity to learn how the Global Intellectual Properties (GIP) group interfaced with some of Apotex’s other departments. Sometimes these interactions were in the form of regularly scheduled meetings, where a lawyer and representatives from other departments would meet to discuss the progress that is being made on Apotex products. Whether the interactions were more or less formal, scheduled or spontaneous, one thing was clear: in-house lawyers work hard to support every area of the company that requires their assistance.
What is the Role of In-House Counsel?
Prior to beginning my Apotex internship, I was a bit unclear on what work was performed by in-house lawyers, rather than by external counsel. Throughout my internship, I was able to learn how various legal tasks were delegated.
The in-house legal team is tasked with advising the company, helping to make decisions about the best way to proceed in certain situations, and managing the tasks assigned to external counsel. In-house lawyers are also involved with drafting documents and revising external lawyers’ work. As in-house lawyers understand the specific nature and quality of work that is required and the needs of their company, they are best-equipped to critically review incoming work and act as a liaison between the organization and the external law firm.
What Did I Do?
At Apotex, I completed tasks for a number of lawyers and experienced a wide range of work as a result. My largest project was to draft a Notice of Allegation; the originating document for proceedings under the Patented Medicines (Notice of Compliance) Regulations. I completed various research tasks, including determining the litigation status of relevant cases. I learned how to critically review a patent, its file-wrapper, and prior art documents to determine what invalidity and/or non-infringement arguments might plausibly be made. This type of assignment provides an opportunity for in-house counsel to assist in drafting legal documents and to critically review work done by external firms.
My work was not limited to patents. I also gained exposure to trade-mark matters and corporate/commercial work. For the latter, one of my tasks was to draft a corporate policy from existing documents and memorandum. I then reviewed the current documents to determine whether they were compliant with the draft policy, and to note any ways in which their compliance could be enhanced.
What About the Employees?
I have left the best for last – everyone with whom I interacted at Apotex was great. My supervisor was very helpful, glad to answer all of my questions, and ensured I was exposed to as much of the company and its work as possible. Our daily meetings provided an opportunity to discuss my progress, and his door was always open for any unscheduled meetings, as well. Everyone else who worked in the department was friendly, and happy to help in my learning experience. I was grateful for the experience, and, at the same time, felt I was able to contribute to the department.
Would I Recommend the IP Intensive Generally, and Working at Apotex in Particular?
Absolutely! The IP Intensive is a great way to become exposed to the IP community, and begin to learn some of the tasks that IP lawyers seek to accomplish. Working in an in-house environment will certainly provide a different perspective from working in a firm, as each has different responsibilities and focuses.
For anyone interested in completing an internship at Apotex, my experience was fantastic and I was able to learn a lot in my short time with the company. If you are interested in patent (and perhaps some trade-mark and corporate) law, this might be the right experience for you!
Amanda Legeny is a JD Candidate at Osgoode Hall Law School and is enrolled in Osgoode’s Intellectual Property Law Intensive Program. As part of the program requirements, students were asked to write a reflective blog about their internship experience.