Shyla Jones-Ali, Director of Legal Counsel, Advertising, Marketing & Brand Protection at Charles Schwab, has pursued each step of her professional journey with intentionality. Shyla entered college dreaming of being a high school teacher—today she is a trademark attorney. At first glance, those two paths may seem vastly different, but, in retrospect, they are in fact just one path, forged together by a series of purposeful decisions by Shyla to keep an open mind and to embrace new challenges. Shyla never gave up her passion to teach either; she is also the Trademark Clinic Supervising Attorney at UIC Law School where she teaches the next generation of lawyers.
Shyla’s path began in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. She grew up in Cedar River, Michigan, and received her Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration for Secondary Education and minors in Biology and Chemistry from Lake Superior State University. Toward the end of college, Shyla began to realize that teaching was not the perfect fit for her and decided to go to law school, something she had considered since high school.
While at Santa Clara University School of Law, Shyla attended as many seminars as she could find on intellectual property. It was at the end of an intellectual property overview presentation that she had an epiphany that would guide the rest of her career: trademark law intrigued her. Trademark law’s unique combination of business and consumer rights considerations, and its multi-factor legal tests, created a grey area of law that seemed challenging and exciting to Shyla. And, as Shyla says, no education is worthless—her business degree prepared her to masterfully handle all the commercial considerations in the trademark issues she has faced both in law school and throughout her career.
After law school, Shyla’s Midwestern roots called her to Chicago where she was faced with creating a legal network from scratch. A solo practitioner offered her an opportunity to work on trademark cases and she seized it. Shyla credits much of her subsequent career growth to her intentional networking. She actively sought out speaking opportunities and accepted any and all opportunities to learn and grow in the community, from working with law students and lecturing fashion students to presenting IP basics to small business owners. Through her active networking, she found her next opportunity at a boutique IP firm. As her career progressed, Shyla realized she wanted to focus more on the client experience. Rather than having to refer her clients away from the boutique to other law firms, Shyla wanted to grow her client relationships by being able to refer her client to others within the same firm. That led her to accepting a role at full-service law firm, where she worked for three years.
In many ways, Shyla’s most recent move in June 2020 to an in-house role at Charles Schwab is no surprise. It is a culmination of the steps she took to develop her trademark expertise and to grow her client relationship skills. According to Shyla, when compared to her law firm practice, her in-house role is the same and different all at once. She has thrived in the past year and a half growing into her new role and learning the different approaches and priorities that come with it.
Shyla is also intentional in how she gives back to her community. As the Trademark Clinic Supervising Attorney at UIC Law School, Shyla creates the law firm experience for law students so they can practice the legal skills they have been learning in the classroom. Shyla’s favorite moment at the clinic is when a student figures out a problem on their own and she can see the pride on their face. Shyla has also been an active member of ChiWIP since its inception in 2015. Shyla has served on the social committee and is currently a member of the in-house advisory committee. Shyla’s favorite ChiWIP program is the Girl Scout IP Patch Program, which she helped to develop curriculum for and launch. Shyla enjoys the Girl Scout program because she gets to share her passion for trademark law and also model by example that women truly do belong everywhere. In reflecting on her journey, Shyla commented, “Where would we be without the people before us?” In continuing the legal profession’s tradition of mentorship through her work with law students and Girl Scouts, the next generation of lawyers will surely be asking themselves the same thing.
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