IPI Impact

The Innovation Practice Institute was launched in 2009. Here, we highlight both some exemplary recent IPI-affiliated graduates and also some outstanding Pitt Law graduates from the years just prior to the launch of the IPI. Their careers and practices embody the goals of the IPI with respect to lawyers taking their places as innovative advocates, counselors, and entrepreneurs.

Recent representative IPI graduates


  • Marlene van Es, founder and principal, Trellis Legal, LLC, Pittsburgh, PA (Pitt Law class of 2015)
  • Kathryn Imler, Legal Counsel, Alliance Defending Freedom, Scottsdale, AZ (Pitt Law class of 2013)
  • Mikhail Pappas, associate attorney, Gross & Patterson, Pittsburgh, PA (Pitt Law class of 2014) (Mik Pappas is a founder and owner of Legal Means, a social enterprise that seeks to Equalize the System, or foster justice system reform through the power of business and technology. With the support of local accelerator Idea Foundry, Legal Means built an online crowdfunding platform that is designed to support criminal defendants whose cases involve civil rights issues)
  • Tara Tighe, Assistant United States Attorney, United States Attorney's Office, Northern District of West Virginia, Wheeling, WV (Pitt Law class of 2012)
  • Nicholas Tomsho, William Morris Endeavor Entertainment, New York, NY (Pitt Law class of 2016)

IPI Fellows


Four recent Pitt Law graduates have served the IPI Executive Director as "IPI Fellows" before transitioning into full-time professional practice:
  • Mindy Cooper, associate attorney, Seth Law Associates, Pittsburgh, PA (Pitt Law class of 2013) (By day, Mindy Cooper works in immigration law as an Associate Attorney at Seth Law Associates. Her practice focuses on employment-based temporary visa categories and family-based petitions. By night, she is a creator, performer, and producer in the Pittsburgh comedy scene. She is an improvisor on Arcade Comedy Theater's house team In Another Castle and is a member of Secondhand Sketch, named Pittsburgh's Best Comedy Troupe in the 2016 City Paper Reader's Poll)
  • Elizabeth Jorge, Law Clerk at Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court, Pittsburgh, PA (Pitt Law class of 2014)
  • Zachary Laplante, Licensing Coordinator, FedEx Supply Chain, Pittsburgh, PA (Pitt Law class of 2015) (Zack Laplante works as a Licensing Coordinator at FedEx Supply Chain and is developing a nonprofit called Steer the Way to make low-cost legal information available to early-stage startup companies)
  • Jaclyn Clifford, founder and principal, Trellis Legal, LLC, Pittsburgh, PA (Pitt Law class of 2015)

Earlier Pitt Law graduates "adopted" by the IPI


  • Christopher Arnold, General Counsel, Schell Games, Pittsburgh, PA (Pitt Law class of 2004)
  • Richard Belsky, co-founder, Sports Challenge Network, Las Vegas, NV (Pitt Law class of 2005)
  • Brooke Feit, Corporate Counsel, WhoSay, New York, NY (Pitt Law class of 2010) (After interning for the Screen Actors Guild & Pittsburgh Pirates, Brooke Feit started her career in the sports legal department of Creative Artists Agency ("CAA") drafting NFL & MLB player endorsement deals. She then became the Director of Legal & Business affairs for WhoSay Inc., a company incubated by CAA that creates and promotes social media commercials featuring top tier celebrities and brands (including Chevrolet, Coca-Cola & McDonald's))
  • Thomas Magner, Broadcast Business Representative, SAG-AFTRA, Washington, DC (Pitt Law class of 2012) (Tom Magner helps out with labor issues related to the broadcasting industry as a Broadcast Business Representative in the Washington-Mid Atlantic Local of SAG-AFTRA)
  • Joshua Miller, associate attorney, Sterne Kessler Goldstein & Fox, Washington, DC (Pitt Law class of 2010) (Josh Miller is an IP litigator at Sterne, Kessler, Goldstein & Fox in Washington, DC. He primarily represents clients in automotive, electronic, and pharmaceutical patent litigation and appeals in federal court.
  • Stephanie Sciullo, Associate General Counsel, MSA Safety, Inc., Pittsburgh, PA (Pitt Law class of 2007)
  • Kevin Tucker, founder, LaborClaim, Pittsburgh, PA (Pitt Law class of 2011) (Kevin Tucker operates LaborClaim, a website that makes it easy for workers to file work-related claims from their smartphone, tablet, or computer. He is also a practicing attorney with Carlson Lynch, where he represents plaintiffs in collective and class actions)
  • Jackie Walker, Executive Director, Contracts, The Harry Walker Agency, New York, NY (Pitt Law class of 2011) (Jackie Walker is a lawyer who serves as the Executive Director of Contracts at the Harry Walker Agency, a lecture booking agency. In this role she negotiates, drafts, and memorializes deals around speaking engagements for some of the world's major thought leaders including top economists, scientists, former politicians and world leaders, artists, activists, and business men and women)
  • Bobby Zappala, co-founder, AscenderPGH, Pittsburgh, PA (Pitt Law class of 2009)

IPI Executive Directors


The IPI recognizes the contributions and impact of its Executive Directors, innovators and entrepreneurs in their own right: