Michelle Zimmermann is one of ChiWIP’s original Directors and is currently also serving as its Secretary. When she heard about the first ChiWIP gathering back in the early summer of 2015, Michelle recalls being intrigued by the idea of a local organization designed to promote and support women in IP. After attending, she was convinced that this was going to be a great organization and has been an active member since then. Michelle views the sincere desire that ChiWIP members have to help each other succeed, and the supportive community that has developed from our members, as the reason she continues to be involved.
Michelle has served in various roles for ChiWIP over the years, including as Co-Chair of the inaugural Marketing Committee. She is now Co-Chair of the Foundation Exploration Committee, which, as its name may foreshadow, is dedicated to establishing a scholarship that will help increase the pipeline of talented women entering the IP profession. Michelle sees this Committee as a tangible way that we as an organization can make a difference in, and give back to, our community.
Outside of the time she volunteers with ChiWIP, Michelle is a partner in Leydig, Voit & Mayer’s Chicago office, where she focuses her practice on trademark matters. She enjoys the mix of work she handles for her clients, including counseling, search and clearance, prosecution, enforcement, licensing, and everything in between. While Michelle says law school was always part of her plan, she did not know that IP law in particular would be in her future. But with a technical background (a physics degree), she was quickly ushered into IP classes at the University of Illinois College of Law. She enjoyed it, but it wasn’t until she worked as a summer associate at a small firm in Cincinnati and was exposed to trademark work for the first time that she knew she had found her true calling.
Asked what advice she would give to a young law student or new attorney just starting out with aspirations of becoming a trademark attorney, Michelle emphasizes that you cannot get involved and start building your connections early enough. While learning the law is of course critical, she believes law students would benefit if JD programs also stressed the importance of networking at every opportunity, similar to MBA programs.
Like many of us, the past two years have been filled with both challenging and fun times for Michelle—she welcomed a healthy baby boy in the fall of 2019 and had only returned to work for six days before the city shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In her time working from home since then, she has come to appreciate the ability to be close to her family and be present for many “firsts” that she otherwise may have missed, while still maintaining a successful practice. Asked what her favorite go-to pandemic takeout or delivery spot was for a little work-from-home relief, Michelle advises that Dos Urban Cantina has great Mexican food, with yummy tacos… and, most importantly, they deliver margaritas!
Meet some of our other ChiWIP members here!
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