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Patent Paralegal, Fish & Richardson

Unsung: Judy Witzel

Judy Witzel

Judy Witzel

Patent Paralegal, Fish & Richardson

When Judy Witzel decided to help open Fish & Richardson’s Twin Cities office in 1994, she figured she’d assist for a few years and then head back to her native Boston. She has yet to make that return move, and the firm is the better for it.

“She’s the bedrock of our Twin Cities office,” said nominator and firm office manager Carol Varhalla. “Fortunately for us, she settled in here for a long and successful career. Her comprehensive knowledge of every firm procedure, her ability to overcome the red tape inherent in some of those procedures and her positive outlook make her one of Fish’s most valuable resources.”

Over the past 23 years, Witzel has helped file hundreds of patent applications with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. She monitors the status of patent applications, and continually finds ways to work better and more efficiently, Varhalla added.

When Witzel started, the firm didn’t have a training program, so she worked diligently to learn the patent process. By the proofing of patents, she gradually learned the nuances of the prosecution process, and she used that experience to create a training manual. That kicked off an extensive training program that’s helped many secretaries and paralegals to understand the patent prosecution process.

Most of her tenure at Fish has been as patent secretary, but because of her outstanding work, she was promoted in January to the position of patent paralegal, and now has a full docket of patent prosecution cases that span the entire firm.

Witzel looks forward to more challenges, and noted that even after two decades with the firm, she’s still learning new aspects to patent law.

“Certainly, this is never a boring job,” Witzel said. “I’m lucky, because I love my job, and the people I work with.”

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