How to Get a Job in Tech Policy: Intellectual Property Law

Gabriella Ziccarelli shares her experience protecting today’s innovators

Name: Gabriella E. Ziccarelli
Location: Washington, DC 
Day Job: Intellectual Property Attorney, Blank Rome LLP
Twitter: @ipwithgz

What do you do in your current position and what do you like most about it?
I get to go in to work every day and work with innovators and forward thinkers — how did I get so lucky? As an intellectual property attorney I spend my days helping my clients protect and enforce their intellectual creations, forging relationships that allow them to expand the reach of their technology, and developing creative solutions that will allow them to dream bigger and do more.

What was the most useful class you took and/or internship you had to prepare yourself for the work you do now?
I learn most outside of the classroom — and so my previous work in-house and in the U.S. District Courts was invaluable in helping me to see the big tech picture. Rolling up your sleeves and handling real tech issues on a daily basis pushes you to think from a problem solver perspective rather than a theoretical perspective. Tech is more than just the science, or the policy, of the business. It’s all of that and more. I am forever indebted to the outstanding co-workers and companies that provided me my tech foundation.

What advice do you have for college/grad students and other people interested in pursuing tech law/policy careers? Any “out of the box” tips?
This industry is about hustle, over entitlement. Do, rather than sit back and wait. Fuel your passions and interest into meaningful work. Invest in developing your skills early on — it’s never too early (or too late) to learn. Sign up for a class on coding, take that patent litigation class even if you do not have a tech background. Some of the most successful tech leaders were, by the book, objectively set up to fail in tech because of their backgrounds or supposed shortcomings. Take that challenge, and let it fire you up to succeed.

What do you see as some of the most exciting topics in tech right now/in the near future?
The impact of biometric technology and its relationship with data and privacy as we expand its use in to consumer electronics, administering health care services, and the financial industry. Biometric technology has been around for many years, but we are only now tapping in to its full potential. As the tech industry evolves towards the inclusion of more wearables and biometric log-ins, we are going to have a better understanding of ourselves, but also will need a greater degree of awareness of how and when the data that is collected from biometric-based tech is used. The future is bright and fascinating.

Who is your tech law/policy hero?
Representative Zoe Lofgren

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