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Law + chemistry = perfect career formula: Recent law grad Alex Lodge plans to combine academic backgrounds through chemistry/biotechnology patent prosecution

By: Hayley Bruce  |  2016.07.14  |  Complete Article at:

The thought of attending law school had always lingered in the back of Alex Lodge’s mind. 

But it wasn’t until after he had completed an undergraduate degree at Grambling State University in Louisiana—and was in the process of finishing a doctorate in chemistry at the University of Iowa—that Lodge realized he could effectively combine a Ph.D. in chemistry with a J.D.  

“My first exposure was during a summer undergraduate internship in the research labs at Procter & Gamble, when they had us meet with their patent group,” Lodge says. “That’s when I first realized I could have a background in the hard sciences, but also pursue law.”

After earning a Ph.D., Lodge was admitted to the UI College of Law, where he quickly immersed himself in the areas of intellectual property practice and patent law.

“I had heard a lot of really great things about Iowa Law, and I was particularly attracted to the patent moot court team that had recently won a national competition,” Lodge says. “I did some more research on where Iowa Law stood in that area, and decided I was already here, I was already very involved in the Iowa City community, and Iowa is a great law school, so it was a no-brainer to come here if I could get in.”

He did get in, and once he began his studies, Lodge joined the Patent Moot Court Team (which later qualified for the national championship) and used his legal experience to continue his work as a community advocate through his involvement in the Black Law Students Association (BLSA).

Through BLSA, Lodge teamed up with his classmate Crystal Pound to develop a “Street Law” program to teach area minority youth and college students about their Fourth Amendment rights.

“It was more of a response to what was happening on a national scale between African-Americans and law enforcement,” Lodge says, adding the pair taught five 45-minute courses to area youth as well as a workshop for about 50 students under the mentorship of Iowa Law Professor Emily Hughes.

“We saw it as a way to help educate and empower African-American teens, who tend to be at the highest risk of having their Fourth Amendment rights violated due to a disproportionate amount of police contact,” he says.

Lodge also worked as a research assistant for UI Law Professor Jason Rantanen, and did some legal work alongside an in-house counsel at a biotech startup on the UI’s Oakdale Campus as a first-year student. In his second year, he completed a summer externship at Foley & Lardner in Madison, Wisconsin, where he worked closely with patent prosecutors to prepare communications sent to the Patent & Trademark Office patent examiners.

Aside from his extracurricular experience, Lodge says he’ll continue to draw on the lessons he learned from the faculty who encouraged him to think beyond the outcome of a case.

“Some of the courses I’ll remember most are those that went beyond studying the cases, and examined the other dynamics that impacted them—why the laws existed in the first place, which communities were impacted by them, and why some laws aren’t actually that great,” Lodge says, referencing Professor Angela Onwuachi-Willig's Critical Race Theory course. “They pushed you to think beyond the outcome of a case and think of every other lens that’s there.”

Lodge graduated from the UI College of Law in May 2016. And, though he’ll spend his summer studying for the Wisconsin bar exam, he’s looking forward to starting his patent prosecution job back at Foley & Lardner where he’ll combine his degrees to focus on chemistry and biotechnology patent prosecution.

Alex Lodge, Class of 2016