Career series: Sarah Burstein, University of Oklahoma


Career series: Sarah Burstein, University of Oklahoma

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Sarah Burstein, professor of law at the University of Oklahoma, tells WIPR about her unconventional route into IP, her proudest achievement and the ongoing challenges facing women in law.

How did you become a professor of law?

I went to college to become a graphic designer or a photojournalist, so I majored in art and design, and later added a second major in journalism and mass communication. The latter required me to take media law and, when the course was done, my professor told me to go to law school. 

Next semester, I decided she was right. I knew from her class that I liked copyright, trademarks, and advertising law. After law school, I ended up doing IP (mostly utility patent) litigation. I learned that design patents existed while I was thinking about trying to make the switch to law teaching. 

Outline a typical day in your role.  

On teaching days: I prepare for class (re-read the cases, make or update slides, etc), attend various meetings, read and respond to lots of emails, and teach. If I’m lucky, a student will pop into my office or stay to chat after class. They always think they’re imposing but actually it’s one of my favourite things. On writing days, it varies depending on what I’m working on, but it’s a mix of research, thinking, and actual writing.

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