With a background in biomedical engineering, Helen Ji has been practicing law for six years. Sharp and quick-witted, Helen began her practice focusing on a broad range of patent and trademark litigation issues. Over the past two years, however, she’s honed her skills and now represents generic drug manufacturers in patent litigation related to the Hatch-Waxman Act. Before becoming a lawyer, Helen conducted biotechnology research at the University of Maryland and the National Institutes of Health. This practical research experience, she says, helps her be a better litigator.
Helen is socially engaged and active in her community. When asked about the underlying enthusiasm that helps her divide her time among many competing interests, she readily says, “I think there really are three main areas that I'm really passionate about and they intersect with one another in a lot of ways. One is science, and particularly women in science, an area where women are certainly underrepresented. I am also passionate about supporting organizations that are dedicated to promoting the participation of women in science and in law.”
Last, but not least, Helen is also dedicated to advancing causes that support integration of new immigrants into American life. “Both of my parents are Chinese immigrants,” Helen reflected, “which, I suppose, makes me a first generation in our family to be born in America.” Helen believes it is imperative to provide support to those new to the United States and help them figure out their own path and life in their new home country. One of the ways Helen reaches out to the immigrant population in her community is by serving on the Associate Board of the Chinese Mutual Aid Association and by being a role model and mentor to the immigrant parents and their children who are trying to adjust to a brand new life.
“Like all parents, my mom and dad really wanted to help me achieve my goals,” Helen says, “but they just had no way of knowing the steps necessary to select the right colleges, nor how to apply for admission in a highly competitive environment, nor how to seek out and qualify for scholarships.” Such a situation is all too common with many immigrants, and young children of immigrants find themselves navigating the complex system largely on their own. “I am the first in my family to go to law school and I had to go it alone much of the time and it was a difficult and lonely struggle at times,” Helen says. Helen wants other young people on their way to becoming professionals to have a different experience. She wants to help them figure out what goals they want to achieve and a path to getting there. “Overcoming these challenges definitely built my character,” Helen says, “and that’s what now gives me the energy to work to bring about meaningful change in this area.”
Helen’s desire to benefit society at large and to have an impact is also what guides her professionally. “What I try to do is get generic drugs on the market and I really like knowing that when I go to work every day,” Helen says, “Even though no one is really aware necessarily, it is the work I know is meaningful and impactful.”
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