July 26, 2012

Most engineering majors look forward to prestigious jobs building cars or space crafts or working for major oil companies after graduation, but Joseph Tran chose a different path – law school.

A recent graduate from LSU with a B.S. in mechanical engineering, Tran hopes to begin law school in the fall at Loyola University New Orleans and study intellectual property law.

Tran first considered law school when the 2007 copyright infringement case against a Minnesota woman sparked his interest. The woman was accused of downloading and sharing illegal copies of music through the Kazaa P2P network.

“What began as sympathy and intrigue for the woman grew into a more layered appreciation for copyrights and patents,” Tran said.

During his second year at LSU, Tran was given the opportunity to interview a patent attorney. He grew increasingly akin to intellectual property law and began to seriously consider law school.

“Law may not have been my life-long dream, as is the case for many law students, but I’m glad to be going to law school, because I’m lucky enough to know what I want,” he said.

Tran said, as a law student, one of the benefits of having gone through engineering courses is a sharpened analytical mindset. Lawyers and engineers require a different level of analytical and reasoning skills, so his engineering perspective will allow him to think slightly more analytically than his peers.

“Ultimately though, my success won’t be dictated by what I have or where I have been, but rather how I take advantage of what I have, where I am,” he said. “I think of it as building my life-long arsenal: it’s useless unless you know how to use your weapons at the opportune moment.” 

This summer, Tran is interning with Luong Hoang Anh R&D, which specializes in solving specific industry problems. He is able to use his engineering degree in one aspect (e.g., researching various components and providing initial suggestions) while being able to see the legal aspects, as well (e.g., patent searches and filing, contract writing). He works with a diverse team of professionals from engineers to lawyers and computer scientists to gain new perspective.

Just as he took another path with his engineering degree, Tran plans to take a different approach to practicing law. He plans to work as an in-house for a technology firm after finishing law school. He intends to start his own business someday and possibly earn an MBA as well.

As an engineer, Tran sees the importance of law in his field from a different perspective. 

“How does one protect his ideas, his thoughts, his inventions, his intellectual property?” Tran said. “How can he safeguard against those who may want to take them?”

Tran believes that law school will help him further develop his life-long “arsenal” and make him more successful in his career path.

“Getting a law degree simply gives you another weapon, albeit a very powerful one,” Tran said.

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Article written by Elise Bernard, communications intern. For more information, contact Cassie Arceneaux, College of Engineering, carcen6@lsu.edu or (225) 578-0092.                   



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