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Betsy Flanagan
Betsy Flanagan

Breaking the Ice: Leading firm’s Twin Cities office, women’s initiative

Name: Betsy Flanagan

Title: Managing principal, Twin Cities office, Fish & Richardson

Education: B.A., chemistry, Cornell University; J.D., University of Minnesota Law School

Fish & Richardson patent litigator Betsy Flanagan was already chairperson of a program to increase opportunities for female attorneys in the firm’s Twin Cities office when she recently was named the office’s managing principal, one of few women in such a role at local firms.

“It’s nice to be in that position not only of leadership for the office but for all of the women,” said Flanagan, who also chairs the firm’s Twin Cities EMPOWER women’s initiative.

As managing principal, Flanagan is most looking forward to people getting back together after working remotely during the pandemic.

“I would imagine there will definitely be some more work from home” and gathering for lunch, dinners or happy hours, Flanagan said.

Flanagan, who worked as scientist in the pharmaceutical industry before law school, focuses her practice on complex patent litigation in life sciences, biotechnology and pharmaceuticals.

Fish & Richardson’s Twin Cities office has more than 30 intellectual property attorneys and technology specialists in addition to support staff.

Q: Best way to start a conversation with you?

A: Ask me if I’m planning a post-COVID vacation, because I just did and I’m very excited about it. It will have been two years since a vacation and it’s much needed at this point. We’re headed to Colorado. We’ve gone there a couple of summers in the past. We love to go hiking. This will be especially interesting because we will be taking our seven-month-old twin sons along with us and our four-and-a-half-year-old daughter. It will be a little bit of a circus but we’re not going to let that get us down.

Q: Why did you go to law school?

A: To apply my science background in a different profession, to be able to develop advocacy skills and to be able to continue to learn. Kudos to all the scientists who stick with it for the long haul to see all those things through. I luckily get to work with all those folks in my legal practice.

Q: What books are you reading?

A: The last book I read was “A Gentleman in Moscow.” Next up is “The Code Breaker,” In between there was “What to Do When You’re Having Two.”

Q: What’s your pet peeve?

A: Waiting to the last minute to get things done. Causing fire drills.

Q: Best part of your work?

A: Securing great outcomes for our clients and helping more junior attorneys to develop their skills.

Q: Least favorite?

A: The administrative work that goes along with being a lawyer.

Q: Favorite activity away from work?

A: You’ll find me outside for a run or hopping on my Peloton bike.

Q: Where would you take someone visiting your hometown?

A: I grew up in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and I would definitely drive them by Michigan Stadium, also known as the Big House, and take them out for lunch at Zingerman’s Deli.

Q: Legal figure you most admire?

A: Ruth Bader Ginsburg. She had so much perseverance in the face of the adversity and discrimination that she experienced. She’s also a Cornell alum and she granted our Cornell in Washington program the opportunity to meet her in the Supreme Court chambers. I got to do that my junior year of college and it was quite amazing. She was small but mighty.

Q: Misconception that others have about your work as an attorney?

A: A misconception people have about attorneys is that they’re boring and stuffy. At least in my practice and at my firm, I don’t think we’re either of those things. We get to work on a lot of cutting-edge technology and the interactions we have with one another and with clients and the other folks we work with are fascinating and fun.

Q: Favorite book, movie or TV show about lawyers?

A: I probably wouldn’t keep changing channels if I ran into “A Few Good Men” or “Legally Blonde.”


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