Allegheny Graduate Demonstrates Outstanding, Award-Winning Work as a Patent Litigator
As an accomplished trial attorney, Elaine Herrmann Blais ’91 still frequently uses something she learned during her Allegheny College junior seminar: Albert Ellis’ rational emotive therapy, a type of cognitive-behavioral therapy.
“It really changed the way I thought about public speaking,” Blais says. “Step away from the emotions of the speech and focus on the underlying thoughts. Manage those thoughts, examine them rationally, and the emotions will settle. I still use that today.”
After earning a bachelor’s degree in psychology with minors in sociology and Spanish at Allegheny, Blais originally planned on pursuing a graduate degree in psychology. However, she changed her trajectory and attended The Ohio State University for law school, capitalizing on her analytical abilities.
Subsequently, she joined Jones Day as a patent litigator for six years and later joined Goodwin Procter LLP, where she has worked for more than 20 years. Today, she is a partner, serves as head of litigation at the firm’s Boston office, and is a member of its executive committee.
Although Blais is responsible for presenting cases to federal courts, she enjoys the endless opportunities that patent law affords. She even co-chairs the firm’s incubator committee, which guides the growth and development of emerging and innovative practices.
In 2022, Blais was recognized by The Best Lawyers in America for patent litigation. Over the last few years, she has also been recognized as the New England General Patent Litigator of the Year, one of the 10 biggest influencers in biosimilars, and one of the most influential women in intellectual property.
“I like that I’m always learning something new,” says Blais. “I’ve studied numerous topics I would have never imagined I’d know anything about over the course of almost 27 years of practice — that keeps it interesting.”
Even with her professional commitments, Blais makes it a priority to give back through her pro bono work, which has involved representing unaccompanied immigrant and refugee children. She currently serves on the Kids in Need of Defense (KIND) Boston Advisory Committee.
In 2017, Blais was awarded the Thurgood Marshall Award from the Boston Bar Association for her unwavering commitment to pro bono work. She was also awarded the Mentor Award from the Political Asylum/ Immigration Representation Project in 2009.
Blais advises current students to “keep an open mind about your practice area. You might find that you love something you had never considered and discover the most rewarding career.”