Elaine Spector is determined to bring equality and diversity to the patent world, and she’s not afraid to show it. She recently sat down for an interview with The Patent Lawyer magazine to discuss her inspirations, experiences, and ideas for equality in the industry.
With over 25 years of experience in intellectual property law, Elaine is a partner at the IP boutique, Harrity & Harrity, and is the first female partner in the firm’s history. She holds a degree in mechanical engineering and is dedicated to improving diversity in the field of patent law. Elaine serves as the co-chair of Harrity’s Diversity Committee and as the vice-chair of IPO’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee.
Elaine’s passion for patent law started in high school, where her love for math and science intersected with her interest in law. For those starting their career, she advises advocating for oneself and valuing the unique skills you bring to the table. Her career path involved working at various firms and transitioning into a role as a Tech Transfer Intellectual Property Manager at Johns Hopkins before joining Harrity & Harrity, where she was able to work remotely and on a flexible schedule. Elaine encourages women to set boundaries and not compromise themselves. She faced challenges in balancing work and family life early on in her career, but was able to set boundaries and find more flexibility in her schedule as her children grew older.
Of her greatest achievements in her career, Elaine recounts the memory of joining Harrity in 2017 at a time when it was a smaller firm of only about 14 lawyers (and they were all men!). Fast forward to 2023, and Harrity boasts up to about 45 practitioners now, including multiple women attorneys. This rapid growth has helped the firm move very quickly on new initiatives without much red tape. During the six years Elaine has been at Harrity, their diversity committee has launched numerous external diversity initiatives to improve the pipeline with regard to the patent bar, all with visible impacts. She mentors young women in the profession and hopes to see a more diversified patent bar in the future. Elaine’s future career aspirations include developing DEI initiatives to improve diversity in the patent bar, specifically by expanding their Patent Pathways program to support more Black women, and then shifting the program to help other underrepresented groups in the future.
In the next five years, Elaine hopes to see the patent community take a more active role in promoting diversity and equality through engagement in DEI programs like ADAPT (a coalition of various companies including Microsoft, Amazon, Meta, Google, Cruise and Disney. ADAPT stands for Advancing Diversity Across Patent Teams, and provides a platform for in-house patent attorneys and law firms to get engaged in various DEI programs) and by taking action to support initiatives like Patent Pathways. She emphasizes the need for collaboration and involvement from the larger patent community to effect meaningful change.
“I really would like to see more firms and corporations not just talking the talk and actually taking action to make these initiatives successful. My firm can’t do it by itself; we need the patent community at large to step up and get involved in programs like ours,” Elaine states.
Hear about these initiatives, the advice Elaine has to give, and more in this exclusive interview with The Patent Lawyer Magazine. Read the full article HERE.
Want more? Watch Elaine Spector’s Driving Diversity series HERE. Elaine shares tips and sparks conversations to drive diversity in the legal field in this weekly short-video series.