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."

Presenting the 2013 winners:

Desmund Adams, Principal, AdamsDouglas
Lindsay Alderman, Client operations manager, LightEdge Solutions Inc.
Erica Axiotis, Director of development, Mercy Foundation
Kate Banasiak, President and CEO, Diversified Management Services Inc.
Erin Beamis, Senior vice president of logistics and operations, IronWorks
Jonathan Brendemuehl, Marketing events coordinator, Bankers Trust Co.
Curtis Brown, Economic development director, city of Ankeny
Matt Connolly, President, Generation Green Builders Co.
Lawrence Cunningham, Director of business development, Catchfire Media LLC
Angela Dethlefs-Trettin, Director of community investment and initiatives, Community Foundation of Greater Des Moines
Josh Fleming, Digital strategy director, Lessing-Flynn Advertising Co.
Felix Gallagher, Principal, PharmServ Solutions
Lori Gelhaar, Director of career services/ corporate relations, Kaplan University
Tina Gray Carstensen, Marketing coordinator, Shive-Hattery Inc.
Shane Greenleaf, Vice president/commercial banker, First American Bank
Danielle Haindfield, Shareholder attorney, Ahlers & Cooney P.C.
Emily Harris, Patent attorney and shareholder at Davis Brown Law Firm
Matthew Harris, Division administrator, Iowa Arts Council, Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs
Angela Hilbert, Sales and marketing director, Deerfield Retirement Community
Joey Hinke, President, Miller, Fidler & Hinke Insurance Agency Inc.
Hannah Inman, Director of communications, Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation
Keegan Kautzky, Director of national education programs, The World Food Prize Foundationn
John Lozier, Pediatric interventional cardiologist, Pediatric Cardiology P.C.
Dennis McDaniel, Police chief, Windsor Heights
Rachel McLean, Vice president/consultant, Ruan Cos
John Mickelson, Associate managing director, The PrivateBank & Trust Co.
Keith Olson, Commercial associate, NAI Ruhl & Ruhl Commercial Co.
Matt Ostanik, President, Submittal Exchange LLC
Benjamin Page, Director, Des Moines park and recreation
Dustin Peterson, Partner, McGladrey LLP
Nick Renkoski, Director of marketing and communications, Des Moines Metro Opera
Rachel Rowley, Partner, BrownWinick PLC
John Ruan IV, Vice president, financial institutions, Bankers Trust Co.
Jennifer Soma, Business lead, IDI Actuarial and Product Development Group, Principal Financial Group Inc.
Heather Starr, Real estate agent, RE/MAX Innovations
Aimee Staudt, Director of development, Knapp Properties Inc.
Courtney Strutt Todd, Shareholder attorney, Davis Brown Law Firm
Nikki Sylverson, Event Director, Des Moines Wine Festival Foundation
Howard Tempero, Experience design strategist, Spindustry Digital
Tony Timm, Executive director, Central Iowa Shelter & Services