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Teaching Intellectual Property Presents a Challenge for '01 Grads

KuhnellSome familiar faces grace the halls of UC Law this year. Clayton Kuhnell and Eric Robbins, both Class of 2001, stepped back into the classroom to play a different role: professor. Kuhnell and Robbins were selected to serve as adjunct faculty members to teach the newly developed Practice One course in conjunction with the Introduction to Intellectual Property course. Along with two other Practice One courses that the law school rolled out this year, the IP Practice One course focuses on providing students practical knowledge about how to “practice” in the specified area and what to expect on the first days of a new job.

RobbinsBoth Kuhnell and Robbins were executive members of the Intellectual Property Law Society (IPLS) during their time at UC Law and have practiced in the area since graduation. The two both recently joined the Cincinnati office of the law firm Ulmer & Berne LLP and find that their law degrees have propelled them into successful careers. “I felt that my time at UC was well spent,” commented Robbins. “The adjunct professors did a great job and I received great bar preparation and IP exposure,” he explained. “Now, there seems to be an even greater focus on developing a better program at the law school,” he added.

The Benefits of Teaching

Kuhnell and Robbins meet once a week on Monday mornings with approximately 10 students who have an interest in IP law—from patent to copyright and trademark. They enjoy team teaching because it gives them the needed flexibility to coordinate their responsibilities with their full time jobs. “It also gives students more opportunity to ask questions,” Kuhnell explained. “We complement each other and there is twice as much experience to draw from.” The class spends time asking specific questions about how to draft documents, what “real world” practice is like, and the challenges they may face following graduation. The class includes role play exercises and mock client interviews where the students are encouraged to use their knowledge of the substantive law and translate it into practice.

These weekly meetings have brought back fond memories of their time spent at the law school and practicing IP law over the past few years. “Cincinnati is a very small IP legal community,” Robbins explained. “Chances are that our paths will cross with our students again. I know professors who taught us at UC with whom we still interact on a regular basis.”

Managing Time Off From Work

Kuhnell unwinds by spending time with friends and family and attending sporting events. He’s also been known to play a game or two of poker when he finds time. “He’s very good at it by the way,” Robbins noted. Robbins, who served as a volunteer firefighter with the Wyoming Volunteer Fire Department for 13 years before his first son was born, now enjoys spending time with his wife and two children. He also enjoys repairing and remodeling anything electrical, mechanical, or structural. “If it can be worked on, I can work on it,” he explained. “But I enjoy mechanical small engine equipment the most.”

Story by Amanda Shoemaker