TJSL Alumni Video Series Episode Four Featuring Eric Bernsen ‘12
December 10, 2014
Eric Bernsen ‘12 recently landed in the downtown San Diego law office of Procopio, Cory, Hargreaves & Savitch LLP. “I feel like I am playing for the home team now. I am stoked!” said Bernsen. Bernsen spent the last year and a half working as Patent Counsel for Knobbe, Martens, Olson, & Bear, LLP in Carmel Valley. He traded his commute for a downtown view this month and is “drinking from the fire hose,” as a new Associate Attorney.
Procopio, Cory, Hargreaves & Savitch LLP is a prestigious national business firm dedicated to furthering clients’ global interests. As an associate, Bernsen will focus on his specialty: intellectual property and specifically patent law. “I would like to gain more experience in trademark and copyright, but I really enjoy the fast pace and evolution of technology, especially wireless and high tech. It appeals to the geek in me.” Bernsen said.
A self-described “Navy brat,” Bernsen grew up between Southern Maryland, Rhode Island, and Coronado, which to this day he considers home. As an adult, he too joined the Navy. “I spent 10 years on active duty myself, flying Seahawk helicopters with the Navy prior to coming to TJSL in 2009. My first tour was in Jacksonville, FL where I deployed twice to the Gulf, chasing oil smugglers, and then a year later to the Eastern Pacific, chasing drug smugglers,” Bernsen recalled. When it came time to leave active duty, law school appeared the best option for post graduate opportunities,” Bernsen said.
Initially, Bernsen was interested in international trade and policy because of his experiences overseas but at TJSL he found other passions. “When I got to TJSL, the Intellectual Property Fellowship was just starting and because of my electrical engineering background that appealed to me,” Bernsen explained. This proved to be a turning point in his career, “The Intellectual Property Fellowship and Intellectual Property Tech Externship shaped my career ambitions. They made influential introductions to people for whom I would eventually work.” The Intellectual Property Fellowship also led Bernsen to Professor Steve Semeraro, Professor Randy Berholtz, and Professor Jeff Slattery. Grateful, Bernsen describes them as “immensely helpful and encouraging” and “tremendous influences.”
Despite Bernsen’s involvement with IP, one of his fondest memories was being awarded the Student Org President of the Year award in 2011, for his leadership of Phi Alpha Delta Law Fraternity. “That was one of the proudest moments I had in law school,” Bernsen said. “I also really enjoyed working on the TRIPS symposium in 2011 with the IP faculty and students.” Moreover, to this day, Bernsen continues his military service as a Lieutenant Commander with reserve unit Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron THREE at North Island, flying the MH-60S Seahawk helicopter.
Bernsen’s pragmatic advice to recent graduates is “Set goals for yourself. Do not quit. Do not take ‘no.’” You will not likely find your dream job right out of the gate.” Bernsen’s experience has taught him persistence and patience are essential when searching for a position. Graduates should always keep in mind, “It’s much easier to find a job when you have one, so keep asking questions and introducing yourself; be nice and stay in touch. You never know who will call one day or what opportunities will come knocking.”
At his new position, Bernsen looks forward to immersing himself further in what he loves most about patent law. “Patent law moves pretty fast, not necessarily the law itself, but the technology. No two cases are the same,” he explains. “I like the variety and relative predictability, at least compared to other legal specialties.” In addition to developing his career, Bernsen says moving to a downtown office will allow him to be more involved in the community and with Thomas Jefferson school of Law.