Colleen Tracy '98 - Managing Partner, IP Law Firm, New York
Prominently displayed on the shelves in Colleen Tracy’s Manhattan office at Fitzpatrick, Cella, Harper & Scinto, where she serves as Managing Partner, are two issues of the SETON HALL LAW REVIEW. She keeps them there as a special reminder of the note and comment she contributed to the Law Review while a student at Seton Hall Law.
“I’m so proud of them,” says Tracy. “They represent such a huge accomplishment, and I learned a great deal working on the LAW REVIEW. It’s a lot of research, writing and reworking of your piece; it shows you what your job as a lawyer will entail.”
A leading patent law attorney with one of the nation’s premier intellectual property (IP) law firms, Tracy took advantage of multiple opportunities available at Seton Hall Law to gain the practical experience to succeed in her legal career. Along with serving on the Seton Hall Law Review, she took a trial advocacy course, which “got me on my feet.” She also served as an intern to the HonorableWilliam G. Bassler, Judge, U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey.
Though it is over a decade since she last sat in a Seton Hall Law classroom, Tracy still remembers the wisdom shared by her professors. From John J. Gibbons, former Chief Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals, Third Circuit, she learned that “justice is not a narrow concept confined by rules.” During his Constitutional Law course, Tracy recalls, when the students questioned why the Supreme Court appeared to have ignored precedent, “he looked us in the eyes and said, ‘Sometimes a judge’s job is to stop riots in the street.’”
It is the ability to think situations through and develop solutions that Tracy appreciates most about her work as both a litigator and managing partner. She joined Fitzpatrick in 1999 as an associate, became a partner in 2004 and in March 2009 was named the firm’s first female managing partner, assuming responsibility for enhancing a culture that supports the professional development of more than 350 legal and support staff. In that role, she has also strengthened the firm’s pro bono services and established stronger communications links among associates, partners and staff.
As a litigator, she has represented just about every major pharmaceutical company, including Gilead and its Atripla® and Truvada® products; sanofi-aventis and its Eloxatin® product; Bristol- Myers Squibb and its drug, Orencia®; Adams Respiratory Therapeutics and its drug, Mucinex®; GlaxoSmithKline and its Imitrex® product; and Bausch & Lomb and its lens disinfectants technology.
Raised in Staten Island, her father a New York City firefighter and her mother a school administrator, Tracy originally planned on becoming a doctor, so she studied pre-med at Manhattan College. “I suffered through physics, organic chemistry and microbiology, and I loved it,” she says. But as she pursued her studies, she came to realize her personality was better suited for a career in law.
She chose Seton Hall Law because she was impressed with its collegial atmosphere. “I had heard all these stories about how cut-throat law school is, but that’s not what I found at Seton Hall. What I found instead was an atmosphere that fit my personality and values, and that supports and encourages hard work, honesty and personal responsibility.” She also has made it a priority to maintain her connection to Seton Hall Law, most recently accepting an appointment to serve on the Advisory Board for the Gibbons Institute of Law, Science & Technology, where she can lend her expertise in IP law.
What she finds particularly stimulating about IP law and her work as a patent litigator, she says, are the complex issues that arise from the intersection of law, science and technology. “The cases are huge and there are so many moving parts,” she says.
“But I enjoy the high level of mental stimulation and the fact that every case is different. It can be tiring and it’s complicated, but it’s fun and thrilling, too. I’m one of those lucky people who really enjoys what I do.”