Five minutes with ... Arlene Chow, partner at Latham & Watkins
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Five minutes with ... Arlene Chow, partner at Latham & Watkins

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Each week Managing IP speaks to a different IP lawyer about their life and career

Welcome to the first instalment of Managing IP’s new series, ‘Five minutes with’, where we learn more about IP lawyers on a personal as well as professional level. First up is Arlene Chow, partner at Latham & Watkins in New York and global vice chair of the firm’s healthcare & life sciences industry group.

Someone asks you at a party what you do for a living. What do you say?

I litigate pharma and biotech patents.

Talk us through a typical working day.

I get up at 6.30am and do the first walk with our golden doodle, Evie. I return to our apartment, wake up the kids for school, glance through email over breakfast and provide direction to team members. I then combine walking my youngest daughter to school with bringing Evie to the Madison Park dog run. When I return, I take a morning workout class (cardio dance or spinning) and once I'm at a stopping point with email, I walk to our midtown office.

There are far better food options at or near work than home, so I use lunch as an incentive to get into the office. I also really like working at the office. I like chatting with folks in-person at the office. 

I leave work at 6pm, cook dinner for the family, and after dinner I am typically on my laptop again for a while. My husband takes care of the final evening walk with Evie, so I watch Netflix or Rakuten Viki (for Asian dramas) until I sleep.

What are you working on at the moment? Does one big piece of work usually take priority or are you juggling multiple things?

I am always juggling multiple pharma or biotech matters that are at different stages. Currently, I have matters at pre-litigation due diligence, fact discovery, and expert reports. If I have a matter closer to trial or a hearing, that takes priority over other matters.

What is the most exciting aspect of your role and what is the most stressful?

I love going to trial, and I love preparing a case for trial.  Everything comes together and it is so satisfying to see how a case ultimately plays itself out. The most stressful aspects of my job tend to be juggling urgent questions from clients who understandably need feedback/input “now” or ASAP to provide to their superiors or CFOs.

Tell us the key characteristics that make a successful IP lawyer.

The ability to simplify with direct messaging and effective graphics. I truly believe in keeping it simple.

What is the most common misconception about IP?

That you need to know the science inside out to litigate it well. Yes, having a scientific background is helpful, but I rely on team members, including Latham’s PhD/JDs and technical analysts, to truly dissect the science. I need to know enough of the science to litigate it effectively.

What or who inspires you?

My husband. He is super smart, an amazing spouse and a wonderful father. We have been together for over 25 years, and I continually admire how he maintains the right balance of career and personal life.

If you weren’t an IP lawyer, what would you be doing?

I would be a surgeon. I have pretty good hands and like making decisions under pressure; so using my hands just to type on a keyboard all day sometimes seems to be a waste.

Any advice you would give your younger self?

Relax more. Play a lot more tennis, get a net game, master a backhand slice, and have a varied serve.

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