Alumni Spotlight: Casey Kraning-Rush, Ph.D. 2013
After graduating from the BME Ph.D. program in 2013, Casey Kraning-Rush enrolled in law school at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia to pursue a career in intellectual property law.
While Casey acknowledges the decision to pursue law was rather nontraditional, she says it was the right one for her. When she began researching careers in the final years of her Ph.D., she realized she had never felt drawn to the positions or lifestyle of those in academia or industry, so she started looking at alternative paths instead. Her interest in law came when a friend interviewed for a technical specialist position at an intellectual property law firm. “It intrigued me,” Casey says. “I've always loved to write, argue, and edit. And I liked that IP law was still tangentially related to science, so I could still apply what I’d learned in my Ph.D.” Casey did some informational interviews with patent lawyers and technical specialists to further explore the idea. The more she learned about the profession and the day-to-day lifestyle, the more it felt like a good fit.
Casey credits her Cornell education as helpful in preparing her for a career in law. “I was surprised how natural the transition was,” she says. “There was a lot of overlap in the skills I learned during the PhD and those I use on a daily basis now.” Specifically, she notes the ways in which analytical skills she developed during long hours of planning experiments, analyzing data, and drawing conclusions translate naturally into researching cases, and making and analyzing arguments - daily activities for a lawyer. “Looking for holes, looking for what isn't being said - it's highly analogous to picking apart the newest piece of literature in your field.” Now, she says, these skills have interwoven with new skills she’s learned and developed at Penn Law, giving her an exceptionally strong launchpad as she starts her legal career.
At Penn Law, Casey joined the Penn Intellectual Property Group (PIPG), writing for their blog (http://pennip.org) as an associate editor. In 2014, she was elevated to managing editor, supervising four new associate editors. She has also been actively involved with Penn Law Students for Reproductive Justice, a pro bono group that promotes reproductive rights for women by promoting access to safe, comprehensive, and affordable reproductive healthcare. Recently, Casey also put her skills to the test, placing as semifinalist in the Western Regional of the AIPLA Giles S. Rich Memorial Moot Court, an IP law advocacy competition. She and her partner were also named "Best Oral Advocates" and awarded "Best Appellee Brief." During her summers, Casey worked as a summer associate at the Delaware office of Fish & Richardson, a global patent, intellectual property litigation, and commercial litigation law firm. One of the top patent firms in the country, Fish & Richardson employs over 400 attorneys and technical specialists (including two other Cornell BME alums) and handles more patent litigation cases than any other firm.
“Law school was definitely a little bit of a leap of faith-especially at first,” she says, “but it was the right path for me in the end.” Fish & Richardson agrees, as they’ve offered her a full-time position there next fall and she’s accepted. She will spend this summer living in Philadelphia (a city she adores) as she prepares to take the Delaware Bar Exam.