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Felicia Boyd makes young women aware of ways to use technical degrees as patent agents, in consulting firms or as attorneys. (Submitted photo)
Felicia Boyd makes young women aware of ways to use technical degrees as patent agents, in consulting firms or as attorneys. (Submitted photo)

Breaking the Ice: Attorney seeks to bring women into IP

Name: Felicia Boyd

Title: Partner, Barnes & Thornburg

Education: B.A., chemistry and classics, St. Olaf College; J.D., University of Minnesota Law School


Felicia Boyd, a partner at Barnes & Thornburg with extensive experience in complex intellectual property disputes, ranked among the “Top 250 Women in IP” in 2018.

While Boyd appreciates global recognition among a small group (from the Managing Intellectual Property IP Stars specialist guide) she’s long been working to boost the number of women in the intellectual property field.

In mentoring young women — locally and at such universities as Columbia and UCLA — Boyd makes them aware of ways to use technical degrees as patent agents, in consulting firms or as attorneys, Boyd said.

Boyd was in pre-med until her senior year of college. She changed plans after a chemistry professor’s presentation on being a patent attorney captured her interest.

Intellectual property work appeals to Boyd’s affinity for reading, writing and technology.

“There are no people getting divorced or injured,” Boyd said. “There are no dying people.”

Boyd also is an arbitrator and mediator as fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators and member of the London Court of International Arbitration.

Boyd, a mother of six, is documenting her Suburban’s march toward 500,000 miles on Twitter. “I’m just trying to get a free T-shirt from Chevy,” she said.

Q. What’s the best way to start a conversation with you?

A. Say hi. I’m an extrovert. If you come up to me and say hi I’m talking to you. I love to learn about people, to know what they have to share.

Q. What books are on your bedside table or e-reader?

A. I’m finishing Thomas Hardy’s “Tess of the d’Urbervilles.” I’m a huge Dickens and Trollope fan because I love the written word and the power of it. On the business side I’ve started reading Dan Roam, “The Back of the Napkin,” about using drawings to solve problems strategically and to communicate better.

Q. What is a pet peeve of yours?

A. Besides people chewing with their mouth open? I hate that people infer the worst about something, that someone must have a base motive for doing “X.” Versus maybe they did “X” because they thought that was the right thing to do. People can have different opinions, different strategies, different everything but it’s not necessarily because they’re bad people or have a bad motive.

Q. What are your favorite aspects of being an attorney?

A. The technology. Learning new things all the time and meeting new people. It’s always a new challenge.

Q. Least favorite?

A. People who argue all the time. Our clients have a dispute and they’ve come to their respective attorneys to try to resolve the dispute to get relief or to be defended from a charge that they think is inappropriate. You can do that work professionally and without being an asshat.

Q. What’s a favorite activity outside your job?

A. I love everything outdoors. I do CrossFit, I run, bike, snowshoe. I toured Mount Blanc last summer in Switzerland and France.

Q. Is there an attorney or judge, past or present, whom you admire most?

A. [U.S. District Court] Magistrate Judge Hildy Bowbeer. She’s smart, she’s thoughtful. She understands perspectives of both parties. She is just a treasure.

Q. What’s a misconception people have about working as an attorney?

A. People think that being an attorney is a 9-to-5 job and it’s not. When we didn’t have the internet and cell phones you would be tied to your desk for long periods of time. However when you left your desk you were done for the day. You might take something home to read but that’s about it. Now there’s an expectation that you’re available 24-7. The profession has become one much more business-driven so it’s about revenue generation and making sure you deliver services in a cost-effective manner.

Q. What if any is your favorite depiction of the legal professional in popular culture?

A. My favorite movie that involves the law is “My Cousin Vinny.” An hour of the movie is a trial and they do a good job of showing things in a realistic manner.

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