Featured Member: Caitlin Andersen
Employer: Brown, Winick, Graves, Gross, Baskerville and Schoenebaum, P.L.C., Des Moines, IA
Education and Work Experience:
Drake University Law School, 2016
University of Iowa College of Engineering, 2013
Associate Attorney, Brown, Winick, Graves, Gross, Baskerville and Schoenebaum, P.L.C., 2018-present
Associate Attorney, McKee, Voorhees, and Sease, PLC, 2016-2018
How did you get interested/involved in agriculture law?
I was raised on my family’s row crop and livestock operation near Harlan, Iowa. Though I was anxious to move to the city when I started my engineering degree, I found myself drawn to research related to agricultural technology and how implementation of new farming practices may impact the environment. This technical background led me to question how implementation of ag-tech was regulated and protected, as well as how it interfaced with farmers and growers. While law school was always my plan, it was this experience that helped me decide to pursue intellectual property and agricultural law at Drake University Law School, and now I am a patent attorney focusing on agribusiness and ag-tech clients.
What is your current role and what type of work are you doing for agriculture?
In the past, I have worked with a variety of clients in the agriculture industry to protect their intellectual property, primarily agricultural technologies in the areas of livestock feed additives, agricultural implements, and agricultural chemicals. I recently started with BrownWinick and plan to expand my practice to include a full-service approach to ag-tech startup companies, including business formation and capital growth. I also plan to be involved with the firm’s Agribusiness Group to provide support to ag clients regarding corporate transactions and litigation.
What are some of the challenges and opportunities you see in your job and the ag law profession?
With how quickly technology is developed, there is a real challenge in making sure the technology is both protected for the company owner and effectively implemented in the hands of the farmer and grower. At times, there can be a tension between intellectual property law and those using patented products. It’s my view that much of that can be avoided when educational opportunities are utilized for the benefit of all parties. At the end of the day, consideration for the interests and rights of the players in the ag-tech space–from R&D companies, to licensees, to farmers/growers, to regulatory agencies—hopefully leads to an understanding of perspectives and implementation of mutually beneficial solutions that increase productivity, yields, and dollars for everyone involved.
When did you join, why did you join the AALA and what keeps you active in the organization?
I joined AALA as a student in 2013 and the amazing network of individuals I’ve met over the past five years has kept me involved. In particular, during my term as Editor in Chief for the Drake Journal of Agricultural Law, I saw first-hand the outstanding legal minds and passion for agricultural law that make up the heart of this organization. The support and interest in my career that I have received from mentors within the organization has meant the world to me. I now serve as Chair of the new Law Student Outreach Committee, and it my goal to provide resources and connections for law students across the country to feel the same sort of connection to this organization.