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Heels of Justice

Jun 6, 2019

Welcome to Heels of Justice; these are the stories of women lawyers who are trailblazers in their field and paved the way for the rest of us.

Today, the Heels of Justice interview Sarah Burstein who joined the University of Oklahoma College of Law faculty in 2012. She teaches Intellectual Property, Trademarks, Copyright, and Patents.

Prior to joining the faculty, Professor Burstein served as a law clerk to the Honorable Robert W. Pratt in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Iowa. She also worked as an intellectual property litigation associate in the Chicago office of Kirkland & Ellis LLP. Professor Burstein has a law degree from the University of Chicago and a B.A. in Art & Design from Iowa State University.


Key Takeaways

[0:55] Katherine welcomes Sarah Burstein to the Heels of Justice podcast and asks her to describe the path that took her to the law, from law school to academia.

[5:54] Sara shares how her idea to clerk to get perspective and insights on career opportunities was easier said than done for an art major.

[8:52] If you decide you want to be a law professor, the American Association of Law Schools has a huge hiring conference in DC; Sarah shares her own experience with it.

[10:09] What does Sarah teach at the University of Oklahoma? It’s not as boring as students think!

[11:17] Katherine asks how Sarah manages to navigate the technology side of things coming from an art background.

[12:20] Sarah’s particular expertise is design law, she explains a little bit of what it is, how she came to think it was an important area to focus on — and was made right by a billion dollar judgment! — and gives examples of real-world applications.

[15:21] Sarah was told by her mentor that no one would hire her on a design patent paper: most people thought of design patents in 2011 as the lunar mineral rights of IP.

[17:15] Katherine asks Sarah to share what the argument of the non-obviousness in design patents article she wrote was and she boils down the obviousness standard in the Law today.

[20:46] So in theory, for a company, design patents are an invaluable weapon against competitors.

[23:24] Katherine asks about Sarah’s social media presence for design law: @design_law and how it still surprises her to this day that so many people seem interested!

[27:43] How does Sarah overcome failure and does she have one example she remembers?

[30:21] What advice would Sarah give her undergraduate self or Law School self?

[32:09] thanks for sharing so much of her stories and expertise on the Heels of Justice podcast and she signs off until next time.


That’s it for this episode of Heels of Justice; if you like the stories we’re telling, please visit our website. You can join our mailing list, learn more about our guests, and see what we have planned for the future.

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Disclaimer: The opinions you have heard are ours or our guest’s alone. They’re not the opinions of our employers, or our clients, or our bosses, and not our husbands, kids or pets, or anyone else’s.


More about the Heels of Justice hosts Sarita Venkat, and Katherine Minarik

Heels of Justice on the Web

Heels of Justice on Twitter

Heels of Justice on Instagram

Heels of Justice on Facebook


Sarita Venkat on LinkedIn

Katherine Minarik on LinkedIn

Katherine Minarik on Twitter

Katherine Minarik at cleverbridge


More about our guest

Sarah Burstein at the University of Oklahoma



Mentioned in this episode

Richard Serra Tilted Arc

University of Chicago

Kirkland & Ellis LLP

Chief Judge John Pratt

Chief Judge William Adams

Apple Inc. v. Samsung Electronics Co.

University of Oklahoma


Personal stories (edited)

“When I started in design patents I wanted to meet everyone and it was very exciting. I was taken aback when this one person was very hostile and nasty from the start; making jokes about me trying to destroy design, belittling me, they even went so far as to call to accuse me of taking money to sign an Amicus brief! He was impugning my professionalism in a very real way. Finally, I put my foot down and I said “you need to stop this, it isn’t funny. Maybe you don’t realize how offensive this is, but I’m not going to listen anymore.” Since then, he has stopped saying these things to my face — I understand he is still sending nasty stuff about me behind my back — but at least it has set some professional boundaries.”