May 6, 2024
smiling woman dressed in black

Jing Kong, a 3L student at Rutgers Law School, has been named the latest recipient of the Hon. Giles S. Rich Diversity Scholarship. This competitive and prestigious award is granted each year by the New York Intellectual Property Law Education Foundation (NYIPLEF) to a minority student representing a group that has been traditionally underrepresented in the legal profession. A trailblazer both personally and professionally, Kong is the first in her family to attend college, earn a Ph.D., immigrate to the U.S., attain U.S. citizenship, and earn a J.D. This summer, she will launch her legal career as a summer associate with the life sciences patent litigation team at O’Melveny & Myers.

As a child, Kong developed an early passion for writing and often penned original stories to share with her friends. Still, when the time came to decide on a career path, she chose to pursue a degree in chemistry. “Growing up in China, interest isn’t a dominant factor when selecting a major,” she says. “I was good at chemistry, and chemistry is so fundamental to this material world and our daily life, so my goal was to work at a large company doing life-saving research.”

After earning a Bachelor of Science from Nanjing University in China and a Ph.D. from Carnegie Mellon University, she achieved her goal—she was hired by Johnson & Johnson to work as a senior scientist and, six years later, was promoted to patent liaison. In this role, she leveraged her experience in new product development to serve as an intermediary between members of the research and development team and in-house patent attorneys. During her years at J&J, she realized she had something in common with the patent attorneys: they all shared a background in science and a knack for writing. “I dove into the LSAT and said to myself that if I got a good score, I would go to law school to become a patent attorney,” she recalls.

man and two women holding large check
Jing Kong `24 (right) receiving the 2024 Hon. Giles S. Rich Diversity Scholarship (Credit: New York Intellectual Property Law Association)

Kong started evening classes at Rutgers Law in 2021 while maintaining her full-time position at J&J. But the true test came when she was unexpectedly laid off during her pregnancy in 2023. The loss of her job also meant the loss of her health insurance, just as her pregnancy became complicated and her son endured a serious accident at school that resulted in two broken arms. Soon, she gave birth to her third son and her parents immigrated from China after three long years of COVID separation. But she never slowed down. As a law student, Kong was co-president of Rutgers Law’s Immigration Rights Collective, served as a student representative on the Asian Pacific American Law Students Association, was a student mentor for first-year students, and honed her IP skills as a member of the Intellectual Property Law Clinic, where she helped clients on trademark and patent related matters. “I’ve been through so much in 2023, but I feel now that I can do anything,” she says.

If you ask John R. Kettle III, Judge John W. Bissell Scholar and director of the Intellectual Property Law Clinic, it’s no surprise that NYIPLEF sees something special in Kong. “Her being selected as the recipient of this prestigious scholarship is testimony to her hard work, academic achievements, and promise as a future member of the intellectual property bar,” he says. “I look forward to Dr. Kong's continued success and her valuable contribution as a member of the IP bar. I am certain that her dedication to and passion for the study and practice of intellectual property law will continually grow.”

Rutgers Law Media Contact:
Shanida Carter

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