In celebration of Asian Pacific Heritage Month, we are excited to feature Hogene Choi, Palo Alto-based partner in the firm’s Intellectual Property Group and Co-Chair of the firm’s Patent Prosecution Group. Hogene also serves as the Palo Alto Chair of the firm’s Global Women’s Forum. Read our Q&A with Hogene below and learn more about her life and work at Baker Botts:
What is your role at Baker Botts and why did you choose to join the firm?
I am a partner in the IP Department, and I co-chair the firm’s Patent Prosecution Practice Group. I joined the Palo Alto office in 2011, as a fourth-year associate, because I was interested in the opportunity to join a new and growing office of a reputable and well-established firm with a strong IP group.
What do you find most exciting about your role/practice?
I enjoy the variety of challenges involved in my practice and my role at the firm, which involves not only performing legal work and keeping up to date with the latest technologies, but also the type of “soft skills” involved in developing and managing relationships with clients, other partners, associates, and patent agents and other staff who are key to the firm’s success.
How has your heritage influenced who are you and/or the work you do today?
I grew up with a strong awareness of the importance of understanding the needs of others around me. This mindset is helpful in establishing a solid foundation for working in a service industry, which is ultimately the role of lawyers at a law firm who are serving their clients. I was also raised in a culture that values prioritization of the well-being of an organization over individualistic goals, which is also helpful in understanding the fact that the highest and best use of one’s time and energy for the well-being of an organization may not always be the activity that seems the most personally fulfilling or interesting, but it is often what will be most valued.
What advice would you give others to achieve the kind of success you have?
The easiest path to career success is one that is built on understanding yourself deeply. When you select a career path where you have an inherent interest in the subject matter and typical challenges that you will face day-to-day, it is much easier to invest the kind of time and energy that is necessary to be successful.
Can you give a specific example of a challenge you’ve had to overcome in your career?
I graduated from law school in 2007, just before the 2008 recession, and I weathered the recession of the early 2000s while working at various high-tech companies before law school. Those earlier times of adversity taught me the importance of understanding whether you are providing value to the organization employing you, identifying which types of skills and experience are highly valued in the marketplace, and assessing myself objectively to capitalize on my strengths and work on my areas for improvement.
What (or who) inspires you?
I am truly inspired by the folks who work in healthcare and other essential businesses who overcome their fears and concerns on a daily basis to go to their jobs and serve the public. They are the engine that allows the rest of our society to stay safe and healthy, and I am thankful for their persistence and bravery.
Is there a fun fact about you and your life that you’d like to share?
When the shelter-in-place orders were first imposed in the Bay Area, it seemed like a good idea to start the indoor garden that I had been thinking about for some time. At this point, I have basil and spearmint that I’ve already used in recipes, zucchini plants that will be flowering soon, many different seedlings started from seed, and a Meyer lemon tree that is fruiting. I’ve also eaten sprouts that I grew from seeds in Mason jars and harvested scallions stored in glasses with water on my windowsill. I am hoping to set up an automatic watering system as well to ease the transition when we all go back to the office.
What does Asian Pacific American Heritage Month mean to you?
The establishment of a regular month of the year to celebrate APA heritage is a meaningful recognition of the significance and long history of APAs in America. This month provides an opportunity to educate all Americans on that history and the contributions of APAs in furthering civil rights, as well as the roles of APA leaders in advancing the American economy, culture, science, and the arts.
Any final words of encouragement, an inspiring quote, or phrase you’d like to share with others navigating these challenging times?
These are hard times, and each of us has different ways of coping. One of the most effective ways to deal with a negative mood and create feelings of empowerment, strength, and joy is to figure out how to help those whose needs are greater than ours. This is the time to pay it forward, to act with compassion, and to reach out to others who may need help. . . for your own sake, as well as theirs.
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Baker Botts is an international law firm whose lawyers practice throughout a network of offices around the globe. Based on our experience and knowledge of our clients' industries, we are recognized as a leading firm in the energy, technology and life sciences sectors. Since 1840, we have provided creative and effective legal solutions for our clients while demonstrating an unrelenting commitment to excellence. For more information, please visit bakerbotts.com.