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WVU Law student Emily Cramer
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Opportunities and Connections: Working IP Law in China

Emily Cramer helped protect the intellectual property of global businesses this summer working in Beijing, China.

Cramer, a 3L, was a legal intern at Schmitt & Orlov, an international law firm that provides legal services related to trademarks, copyrights and patents. As a member of the enforcement division, Cramer monitored the brand presence of the firm’s clients in Chinese business markets to find and legally address counterfeit products.

“The firm’s work helps protect its clients’ brand recognition by cleaning the markets of fake products. Its clients are global and local brands that do business in China,” she explained. “Consumers may not know they are buying counterfeit goods, so this work is also seen as a consumer protection issue because it helps ensure consumers are getting the quality they want from the products they buy.”

WVU Law student Emily Cramer

Cramer’s summer in Beijing was nontraditional compared to many law students because she won’t be seeking a job offer from the firm upon graduation. But she returned from China with lasting professional connections, a letter of recommendation from her supervisor, and the confidence that she is on the right path in her legal career.

“I have always been interested in consumer interests and corporate business law, and I am interested in pursuing a career in international trade regulation. Schmitt & Orlov is a leader in the global intellectual property field, and I’m really proud to have been able to work with them,” said Cramer. “I’ve always seen myself working internationally as a lawyer in some capacity, and I’m glad I took the risk of not pursuing a more traditional internship this summer because it solidified that this is what I want to do after I graduate.”

WVU Law student Emily Cramer

Cramer traveled to Beijing equipped with an important asset: the mentorship of Tasha Frazie, Class of 2016. The two were introduced by Cramer’s law school advisor, Professor Jena Martin, because Frazie had experience living and working in China.

According to Cramer, she and Frazie talked throughout the course of her internship about how to make the most of her daily life in a new city and country.

“My law school classes definitely prepared me for the legal work I did during my internship, but my connection with Tasha helped me prepare for things like opening up a Chinese bank account or navigating the train system in Beijing,” she said. “Those ‘daily life’ things that could have affected my experience negatively had I not had her help were made better.”

WVU Law student Emily Cramer

While her law classes prepared her for the legal work at Schmitt & Orlov, Cramer still faced a unique learning curve when she arrived at the firm because most legal documents contained both English and Mandarin writing. In fact, her first assignment this summer was to learn simple Mandarin characters so she could read and understand documents containing integrated Mandarin and English.

“While the law itself is different, I was still able to apply the skills and knowledge I have gained from WVU Law because the Chinese and American legal systems are similar,” she said. “The similarities between the two legal systems helped me hit the ground running when I started work, even though there was a small language barrier in the legal documents.”

Cramer used the language barrier to her advantage, though; because she was the only native English speaker working in the firm, she positioned herself as the go-to person to proofread documents that were written for English speaking clients to ensure things were phrased correctly and worded concisely.

“It was rewarding to earn the trust and respect of the experienced attorneys in my office, coming from West Virginia, an American state none of them had heard of,” she said. “I felt like I went there and did West Virginia and WVU Law proud, and it was amazing to learn and thrive in another country while working in a large international firm.”

WVU Law student Emily Cramer

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Emily Cramer is from Vienna, WV. She earned her bachelor’s degree from Duquesne University in 2017 in Public Relations and Advertising with a Public Relations concentration. She is set to graduate from WVU Law in May 2020.

At WVU Law, Cramer helps coordinate study abroad programming at the College of Law with professor Alison Peck, director of international programs and the WVU Immigration Law Clinic. Cramer is also a student-attorney in the Taxpayer Advocacy and General Litigation Clinics, Executive Publications Editor for Volume 122 of the West Virginia Law Review, vice president of Tax Law Society, and a research assistant for professor Jena Martin.

The summer before her 2L year, Cramer worked in the Consumer Protection Division of the Office of the West Virginia Attorney General. Going from consumer law in West Virginia to IP law in Beijing allowed her to experience the connection between the two legal fields, she says.

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