Boston University School of Law

March 26, 2010

Student Spotlight
Can Cui ( '12): A patent agent back in the classroom


can cui

Can Cui ('12) admits he’s a little sleep deprived; although, he says, any full-time student would say the same. Cui, however, takes the multitasking law student lifestyle to a whole new level.

“I’m pretty sure I’m not the typical law student, or even a typical international student,” says the 32-year-old J.D. candidate from Beijing, also a patent agent and new father.

Cui moved to Boston 10 years ago to pursue graduate studies in biomedical sciences at Harvard University. After earning his PhD, the then-scientist chose an alternative career path: patent law. “At that time, it wasn’t something people thought of,” says Cui, “but I enjoy writing and reading – the essential features of being a good patent agent.”

Now a patent agent in the Boston office at Ropes and Gray, Cui helps clients secure pharmaceutical and biotechnology patents. Getting a law degree, according to Cui, was the natural next step. “It was a big decision, because I’ve already been schooled so many years,” he says. “But now I can apply what I learn here into helping people get patents.”

In agreement with his firm, Cui chose BU Law for its strong intellectual property and international law programs. “After working for a number of years, I’m back in the classroom studying, discussing, debating. I have a fresh perspective to bring to my firm,” says Cui.

With what little free time he has, Cui calls his relatives in China. He’s only been back to visit a handful of times since coming to Boston, but hopes to move back home to China eventually. Thanks to the country’s reputation for piracy – and ensuing infringement issues – China, and Asia in general, has a large market for intellectual property law, says Cui.

“There is a role for someone like myself, with intellectual property knowledge and an international background, to play in China,” says Cui. “So that’s a long-term goal.” Cui takes classes in the mornings before heading to work in the afternoons. At night and on weekends he spends time with his wife and eight-month-old daughter.

“My daughter tries to stay awake until I get home around 10 or 11 p.m.,” Cui says. “Then I put her to bed, spend a precious 20 minutes with her.” In the mean time, Cui focuses on the many facets of his life here in Boston: learning, working and taking care of his family.

“I’m still surviving,” insists Cui. “It really requires a lot of time management, but it’s worth it.”

Reported by Nora Dunne