Calista Mitchell’s biggest piece of advice to young attorneys? Create the career that’s best for you and be flexible while doing it. Career goals and personal commitments change over the years and in ways you can't easily predict. Calista reflects that her greatest successes have been the instances in which she was willing to try new things and speak up for what she wanted. She never felt like there was only one track to being “successful,” even at a law firm. She remarks that, on her career journey, she has learned that it is okay to define what success means for you. She suggests women find the work-life balance that suits them best and ask for what they need to stay in the practice of the law. She urges young attorneys to not make drastic decisions to fix short term problems. There’s often an easier fix if you just ask. As a partner at Fitch, Even, Tabin & Flannery, Calista makes it a goal to facilitate career satisfaction and happiness among her colleagues and the young attorneys she works with. If they can define what they need, she will advocate for them to make it happen.
Calista has always had a love for science, but it wasn’t until she took an undergrad biotechnology class at the University of Iowa that she gave much thought to patents. After graduating from Iowa with a degree in microbiology, Calista attended Chicago-Kent College of Law, from which she graduated with honors. Calista began her legal career at Fitch Even, first as a clerk during law school and then as an associate upon graduation. She steadily moved up through the ranks, becoming an equity partner in 2014. She credits a supportive group of colleagues and good client relationships as the primary reasons she has stayed in one spot for so long.
Calista focuses her practice on patent drafting, prosecution, and clearance work for clients, primarily in the food science, biotechnology, and chemical arts. She also has a busy design patent practice. Calista enjoys the broad scope of work because no two days are the same. Calista’s favorite aspects of “lawyering” are learning about new technologies and the teamwork required to successfully get a patent through the patent office. Calista's technical background and years of experience working in the same technologies allow her to better interact with inventors to create positive and productive relationships. She’s worked with some of the same inventors since her first year of practice. Calista also enjoys seeing products that she has worked on while grocery shopping or going to the doctor's office.
Calista’s involvement in ChiWIP dates back nearly to the inception of the organization. Working at Fitch Even with Nikki Little, one of ChiWIP’s founders, Calista says that it was a “no brainer” to get involved. Calista sits on the ChiWIP Board of Directors and is one of the chairs of the Outreach committee. She previously chaired the Marketing and Mentoring Circles committees for two years each.
In her downtime, Calista enjoys a beach vacation and attending sporting events with her family. As the mother of two young boys who are avid sports fans and budding young athletes, Calista's weekends generally involve attending at least a few sporting events. While she’d rather pass on a baseball game unless her kids are playing in it, a Bulls game is always a fun night out.
Meet some of our other ChiWIP members here!
Do you have someone you would like to nominate for a member spotlight? To nominate or to share your own success story, please fill out the form here.