DALLAS, TX March 19, 2019 – At age 12, Christa Sanford told her mom that she wanted to become an attorney. In fact, her mom wanted to become a lawyer, but opted to work at home to raise Christa and her sister while her Dad worked, seemingly 24 hours a day. It was no surprise that her Mom offered a caveat: Become a patent attorney. Christa’s mom told her to go to school and major in engineering or science, then get a law degree. That set Christa on her path to success today that has led her to currently serve as the firm’s deputy chair of the IP department.
When she talks about her work over the years, she is excited to share the success she had in a matter that recently settled. The investigation began in 2015; a client was accused of infringing on another company’s patents. Tens of thousands of patents were involved, and as the lead negotiator, she and her team had to sort through all of the technical analysis for the client. Some of the assertions related to memory devices stored products, which proved to be a large task. She had to navigate her way through the massive volumes of documents and negotiate a deal with the patent holder where her client received extremely favorable terms. “It was constant for three years,” she recalls. “Everybody was very happy. That was my first big deal where I was the lead negotiator and lead drafter.”
Part of what drives Christa is her ability to be resilient. It’s a characteristic that she sees in her mom who has battled Parkinson’s Disease for nearly 30 years. It’s a characteristic she shares with younger lawyers seeking advice. “It’s not if you’re going to have difficulties in your career, but when you’re going to have difficulties and how you respond to those challenges. I can go through countless times when there have been setbacks in my career and where I had to deal with naysayers, but being resilient, and learning how to bounce back and learn from those challenges, really differentiates you and helps you to move forward in your career.”
Christa, who grew up in Dallas, says after graduating from SMU’s Dedman School of Law, she considered three law firms who had strong intellectual property practices. Her exposure to Baker Botts stood above the rest. She values the supportive atmosphere that has helped her throughout her career. She gets a chance to practice the type of law she loves. She has received the support to balance her role as a wife and mother of three children. Plus, she’s been able to take on community projects with the Junior League of Dallas and serve as one of the founders of The Village, an African American Giving Circle associated with the Texas Women’s Foundation, that last year raised nearly $150,000 to help charities focused on helping the African American community.
When Christa isn’t meeting with clients to discuss their patents and business or spending time with her family, she carves out at least several hours a week to kickbox. Says Christa, “It is helpful for this job to have that avenue and take it out on that bag.”
As Christa discusses what motivates her every day, she likes to add that along with her mom, her youngest child, Landry, is her other source of inspiration. “She inspires me to come to work every day knowing that I can make a difference in this legal environment. If I can make a difference to where that she doesn’t go through some of the things I had to experience that inspires me to continue to move forward and blaze trails for her.”
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