Age 36 | Patent attorney and shareholder at Davis Brown Law Firm

Emily Harris works in an environment of constant discovery.

Harris specializes in intellectual property law, which deals with the challenges that result from what seems the bombardment of business startups, conflicts over inventions, and discoveries in biotechnology, biochemistry and agricultural industries.

Not bad for someone whose undergraduate work and first job focused on microbiology, another world of constant discovery. She conducted research at DuPont Pioneer, Northwestern University Medical School and the University of Chicago.

“I decided I really liked the science, but I didn’t like the laboratory,” Harris said.

She found her calling in being a patent attorney.

“If I weren’t a patent attorney, I wouldn’t have gone to law school,” Harris said.

Harris is active in the startup community. She helped launch the law firm’s Startup Launchpad, a website that provides online resources on a range of topics, including how to form a business and how to protect intellectual property.

She wrote the “Startups Guide to Intellectual Property” for the Iowa Innovation Council. Harris also offers clients a 30-minute no-charge appointment to ask questions about intellectual property law.

“Inventors tend to be very passionate about their inventions, so it’s a legal job working with people who are very excited,” she said. “The startups are really fun to work with. They’re really excited about what they are working on. It’s fun to see the process from start to finish.”

Inventors say they appreciate her work.

“As a scientist herself, she understands the research process and the intricacies and value of our products, which enables her to relate to and effectively communicate with our team in a way that other lawyers simply cannot,” said Shawn Baier, chief operating officer of Metabolic Technologies Inc. in Ames.


Five reasons she’s a 40:

• Helped launch Davis Brown Law Firm’s Startup Launchpad website that helps young companies avoid legal pitfalls.

• Former treasurer of Iowa Organization of Women Attorneys.

• Author of several articles on intellectual property law.

• Member of the Greater Des Moines Partnership’s Capital Crossroads Technology Transfer committee.

• Served as pro bono counsel to the former Iowa Biosciences Alliance, now the Iowa Innovation Council.

Mentor: Kent Herink, patent attorney at Davis Brown Law Firm

Fun fact: Harris reads two to three books a week, but nothing “literary or brainy – mostly teen fiction, especially if it is dystopian fiction or about zombies. I waited in line at midnight for the release of the Harry Potter books and read the Hunger Games trilogy before there was ever a movie made."