Section Focus

Grit and Growth: ABA-IPL’s Women in IP Action Group (WIP)

©2018. Published in Landslide, Vol. 10, No. 4, March/April 2018, by the American Bar Association. Reproduced with permission. All rights reserved. This information or any portion thereof may not be copied or disseminated in any form or by any means or stored in an electronic database or retrieval system without the express written consent of the American Bar Association or the copyright holder.

The newest of the ABA-IPL Section’s five affinity action groups, the Women in IP Action Group (WIP) is a network of legal professionals working together to advance diversity, expand opportunities for women, and mentor female colleagues in the field of intellectual property law. At nearly 400 members since it was founded last year, WIP shares its members’ expertise, substantive knowledge, and strategies in order to build a better environment of gender equality for teamwork and leadership within the IP profession. As part of the American Bar Association, WIP leverages the broad reach of the ABA and liaises with relevant organizations to attract, inspire, and advance more women in IP.

The make-up of WIP is both women and men, not only experienced practitioners but young lawyers and energetic law students looking for insight and advice from members in every IP practice and experience. The group works together to create opportunities for growth, learning, and support for women in the profession. Subcommittees including Education and Mentoring operate independently and collaboratively to provide WIP members with opportunities in the Section, within the ABA, and with professional women’s groups around the US.

WIP’s substantive and broad representation contributes to its success. Chair Lisa Dunner, a trademark and copyright attorney, left big-firm life as a partner and launched her own firm. Members are from all areas of IP, including patent, trademark, copyright, and trade secrets, and there is also diversity in practice arenas: private practitioners, corporate counsel, government counsel, start-ups, and solo practitioners. As one of its many initiatives WIP focuses on involving its community in various parts of the country. An example of that is the “Grit Project” designed to educate women lawyers about the science behind the grit and growth mindset—two important traits that many successful women lawyers have in common. WIP has identified the ABA Commission on Women in the Profession’s Grit Project as a top priority, and it launched its own initial program in Washington, DC, last year. WIP plans to produce a number of Grit programs in various US cities throughout the year, and members are an integral part of planning and promoting.

Along with its grit and growth mindset, WIP also believes that a great way to create opportunities for learning and development is through others—especially through leveraging trials and best practices of successful women lawyers. WIP’s monthly telephonic speaker series features notable women in the profession. An impressive group of women practitioners have addressed the group in recent months. All of these speakers shared stories about the mentors in their lives, how they rolled up their sleeves and got involved, and ultimately achieved highly successful careers. The Honorable Kara Fernandez Stoll, US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, told about her experience moving from private practice to the bench and the mentors that helped her make the transition. Linda Klein, past president of the ABA, spoke about many of the initiatives she worked on and how she has thrived and benefited from her volunteer efforts in the ABA. Jacqueline Charlesworth, former General Council, Copyright Office and of counsel at Covington mentioned the work-life balance differences in government compared to private practice. The Honorable Lucy Koh, US District Court for the Northern District of California, engaged WIP members about courtroom experiences, biases and prejudices encountered in everyone’s careers, and gave valuable advice on how best to overcome obstacles. Dale Cendali, partner, Kirkland & Ellis, spoke about the mentors and others in her life who helped her along the way.

A strong thread for WIP is the focus on positive ways to achieve success in the profession. And WIP puts special emphasis on empowerment and practical tools needed to achieve balance in one’s career and life.

For more information and to join WIP visit