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Long-distance Mentorship Offers a Global Experience – Newsroom

3rd year law student Erin Herdmann (left) and Laura Geisler 14 dinars (right) in front of Polystar headquarters in Gothenburg, Sweden.


when 3L Erin Herdman He was thinking about the question Laura Geisler 14 JOD To be her mentor last year, she knew it would be a unique pairing given the distance between them over 4,000 miles. But with a global pandemic forcing more people to go online, distance is less of an issue than it was before COVID-19.

Herdmann, who resides in the Twin Cities, and Geisler, who lives in Gothenburg, Sweden, formed a strong relationship as they would continue to meet during her final year of law school at Herdmann.


“COVID-19 has tested the limits of how easy it can be to make relationships and networking happen,” Herdman said. “We knew that many connections could happen virtually and still produce meaningful and valuable relationships. I really wanted to have this opportunity with Laura – she is someone I thought would be a good mentor for me. It was also an opportunity to work with someone who could open my network to people of the whole world “.

Since her freshman year, Herdman has worked for Patterson Thuente IP, a full-service boutique intellectual property firm headquartered in Minneapolis. Tom Dixon, the company’s managing partner, was its mentor at 1L. While Herdman is involved in a variety of projects at Patterson Twente, she mostly focuses on patent litigation work. Ami Salmela, a shareholder in the company, helped connect Herdman last summer with Geisler, global head of intellectual property at Polestar, a luxury electric car maker based in Sweden, and a Patterson Thwente customer.

Earlier this summer, a group of Patterson Twente traveled to Sweden to collaborate on a project with Polestar. Herdman, who had become a valued member of the firm, was asked to join a small group of lawyers and support staff on the business trip. It was a great opportunity for Herdman, who was able to work alongside Geisler for two weeks.

“Just seeing the scale of Laura’s job and the number of responsibilities that fall under her umbrella was really interesting,” Herdman said. “She’s an unapologetic person, and I admire her. She’s always very professional but she’s always herself and leads that first. I think we lose sight of that in the professional world.”

Herdeman and Gisler are part of the Law School’s award-winning mentoring training program. The program is a hallmark of law school education, which is part of the reason why St. Thomas is consistently ranked as one of the top three law schools in the country for hands-on training. More than 1,700 attorneys and judges have served as mentors in the program that connects each law student, each year at law school, with a legal professional working in their field of interest.

The program seeks to achieve the Law School’s vision of providing excellence in professional preparation. It provides each student with a unique opportunity to build strong relationships with legal professionals and helps students develop the personal and professional skills needed for a successful legal career, said Owen Campbell, Co-Director of the Apprenticeship Training Program.

Campbell said Geisler and Herdman demonstrate the strength of the mentor/learner relationship.

“Instead of seeing the mentor’s externship program as a requirement, Erin treated the program as an opportunity, hiring Laura to be her mentor and then seeking career advice, asking questions, and learning from her mentor,” Campbell said. “Irene was committed and eager to learn everything she could from her mentor. Laura reflected Irene’s enthusiasm by taking the time to structure experiences that would enhance Irene’s skills in intellectual property law and make it possible for her to answer questions and provide candid advice. Like Irene, Laura saw that their mentor-mentor relationship And the learner is an opportunity. As a mentor, I felt it was important to learn and share experiences with and from the trainee.”

Herdman said she never imagined how many doors would open for her in her time in law school — including on Almentor’s externship program.

“St. Thomas does an incredible job in attracting leaders from the law community to help foster growth in students,” she said. “There is a lot of meeting the needs of students and creating opportunities and experiences for them to learn new things. Sometimes they find that they will find a company that will take them on an international business trip.”

Bonding on IP

Both Geisler and Herdman were looking forward to careers in the medical field while earning their bachelor’s degrees. While neither of them finished in healthcare, they both have degrees in areas related to biology, which form a solid foundation when pursuing intellectual property law. To practice legal before the United States Patent and Trademark Office, a bachelor’s degree in one of the specified fields of science or engineering is required.

“When I got into law school with my science background, I was thinking I was going in the direction of health law,” Herdman said. “I was still really interested in medicine and hospital systems, but what I really liked about intellectual property, especially the patent work I do, is that I’m still around a lot of healthcare professionals. I wanted to get a job where I was constantly learning new things. And about the smart people who challenge me. I definitely feel that way about this profession.”

Geisler said her career revolves around trusting her instincts and working on projects that she truly relates to. You are drawn to opportunities to help companies that engage in innovative problem-solving techniques.

“I listen to my heart constantly and follow my curiosity,” Geisler said. “And that was exciting.”

During her time at law school, Geisler felt part of the community. The relationships she built with her classmates, staff, and faculty helped her create a strong network even before she graduated with a law degree.

“I loved having access to these world-class minds,” Geisler said of the school’s faculty and staff. “People are so good at what they do, they will open their doors or sit down and have coffee with you. These relationships have empowered me. I have been encouraged to follow my own path even if it is an unconventional one.”

Herdmann and Geisler met briefly last fall, but in Sweden the two were able to connect on another level.

“Laura was with us almost every day — there was a lot of collaboration with her,” Herdman said. “I was excited to have the opportunity to see where she lives and works and what her daily life was like. I was able to put together a lot of things that I learned almost throughout the year and throughout our relationship. It was so much fun. Not only was I able to work face to face with Laura, but I also saw all the Preparations that go into a business trip of this magnitude.”

Geisler said Herdman’s opportunity to take a trip to Sweden was a huge step for the relationship.

“It was a great experience — it was amazingly helpful,” Geisler said. “She was able to observe my work and see all of these issues I deal with. It was a sobering look at what I’m doing. Then we were able to take some time to network outside of work – we did yoga and had dinner. It felt strong to me because I’m still new to being a mentor and I really wanted to support Erin. I hope from now on we can delve into some of the most important or most interesting issues for her.”

Confidence in her skills and knowledge is something Herdman will take away from her time with Geisler. It’s certain and refreshing to see Geisler be her true self, Herdman said.

“There is a lot of self-doubt and questioning whether you are the right person in the room to answer a question or whether you are qualified,” Herdman said of being a law student in high-performing situations. “Laura is great at emphasizing that you should always believe in yourself.”

Herdmann needed this confidence when she was asked to plan a group social outing for the group that had traveled to Sweden. In an effort to find the perfect activity, I decided to organize a boat cruise. However, once they reached the marina, it became clear that this would not be the type of experience they would have, surprising everyone.

“We all showed up ready to relax,” she smiled, recalling the experience. “But it ended up being a speedboat. We all had to put on life jackets and went 40-50mph out at sea. Like everyone else, Laura showed up expecting a relaxed evening and we were in a boat making cakes.

“People were definitely skeptical at first,” Herdman added. “But it ended up being a great memory from the trip. Although I don’t think I will ever be able to live this.”

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