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DBT40 Honoree: Susan Morrison

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Age: 39
Managing Principal,
Delaware Office at Fish & Richardson (Wilmington)

introduction: In addition to serving as managing principal of Fish & Richardson’s Wilmington office, I’ve built a patent litigation practice representing top-branded pharmaceutical clients in their high stakes Hatch-Waxman and life sciences litigation with hundreds of millions of dollars (and sometimes billions) at risk.   Since joining Fish as an associate in 2007 (after clerking for two years for the Honorable Kent A. Jordan in Delaware), I’ve litigated patent cases on a variety of technologies, with a focus on the life sciences. I was elevated to principal in 2013 and was named Wilmington office managing principal in 2016. 

Professional accomplishments: I have spent over 10 years defending client Allergan’s important glaucoma drug Combigan (annual sales over $200 million), defending Allergan’s valid patents from generic competition. The Hatch-Waxman cases began in 2009 when four generic drug makers filed applications with the U.S. FDA to sell their own versions of Combigan, which Allergan believed infringed its patents. The case has since gone through numerous challenges, twists and turns at both the trial and appellate level, which our team has won at every turn. Most recently in July 2018, we obtained a preliminary injunction in the District of New Jersey preventing Sandoz from launching a generic version of Combigan. The Federal Circuit also rejected Sandoz’s allegation that two of Allergan’s patents were invalid as obvious. 

Leadership examples: I’m deeply committed to the professional development of our attorneys and to the overall success of the firm. In addition to my day-to-day work as a patent litigator, my work as the office managing principal in the Delaware office gives me the ability to have a more direct oversight role of the development of both associates and principals in the office. A significant part of my job is to mentor litigation associates while overseeing their professional development. I also play a significant role in recruiting new associates, and at integrating them into the Delaware office of Fish & Richardson. I love this work because I get to play an important role in making sure that the next generation of lawyers are well trained and can provide superior legal representation to our clients. 

Vision:  We are among the top firms handling high-profile patent litigation in the District of Delaware (D. Del.), which is now the busiest district court in the country for patent cases. My vision as the firm’s Delaware office leader is to continue to meet our clients’ high expectations for us, and to continue to grow our capacity and capabilities to meet their growing demand for our services. We work with clients at a very high level. The cases we handle are extremely complex and often involve large teams of attorneys from across our 13 international offices.

Community service:  I have served for the past five years on the board of directors of Westside Family Healthcare, which provides comprehensive and high-quality healthcare services at a low cost to 25,000 patients of all ages in northern Delaware and the surrounding area. I also currently serve as the chair of the personnel committee for the Board of Directors. 

I am also a tireless advocate for young attorneys who are just starting out. I served for four years as a co-coordinator for a one-of-its-kind program called the Federal Trial Practice Seminar, which is designed for lawyers who have less than 10 years of practice experience.

Where are you most at ease?  I am most at ease on vacation with my family – be it at the Delaware beaches, or far away, spending time with them away from the grind of our daily hectic lives is when I’m the most relaxed.

Currently reading: Ron Chernow’s biography of Alexander Hamilton.  I was inspired to pick it up when I saw the musical on Broadway, and it is fascinating.   

What did you want to be when you grew up?  What I wanted to be when I grew up as a kid ranged from a teacher to a doctor, a scientist to an actor.  It was never a lawyer until I hit college, when I realized that loving science didn’t mean that I had to be in a lab all day.  As a patent lawyer, I get to work with scientists to protect and defend their inventions every day.  I get to learn something new with every single case I take.

Advice 10 years ago?  Slow down and enjoy each stage of my career.  Careers are long, and there is so much time to achieve all your goals.  Young lawyers are often so driven by the next big thing – making partner, getting stand up time in Court, getting client contact – and a lot of the time they miss important opportunities as a result.  All that responsibility comes, and opportunities will knock when you show you are ready for them. 

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