When Dennis Jung shared his career journey with a colleague, her response was rather direct. “She started laughing and said all the twists and turns made her feel nauseous,” he recalls. “I guess the amount of education I completed while still working does seem a little wild.”
But it makes for a great story.
As head of intellectual property (IP) for Ascensia Diabetes Care and Epredia, two members of global healthcare company PHC Group, Jung is as determined as they come and equally as humble. In fact, he even installed his own stand-up generator in his home entirely by himself. It was signed off by a city inspector, up to spec, and ready to go. Jung isn’t an electrical engineer; he simply did a lot of research, admittedly a bit obsessively, on the subject.
“I think my interest in law was sort of the same thing,” Jung posits. “I would see something in the news about a legal conflict or had a family or friend who was being harassed by a landlord. I would always think that there should be some sort of recourse for these people. Even though I had not gone to law school yet, I would try and find a way to help.”
Prior to attending New York Law School, Jung excelled in an IT career that spanned nearly a decade. During that time, he’d also earned his MBA, and it wouldn’t be the last of his formal education. As he was preparing to get married, his career was well on its way, but he knew something was missing.
“I knew if I didn’t go to law school, a part of me would always regret it,” he reflects. “I knew I could be a good lawyer, and fortunately my wife and family were incredibly supportive. I figured I had a little bit of energy left, so like I did for business school, I started going to law school at night so I could maintain an income.”
Jung sought out a slate of internships at MetLife, CNBC, and the New York County District Attorney’s Office to get as much diverse exposure as he could. His first in-house role would ultimately bring him full circle. He began his career as an IT specialist at IBM and his first in-house legal role would bring him back to the tech giant as an IP attorney.
“Coming back to IBM, I had the opportunity to be trained and mentored by some of the brightest attorneys and colleagues for whom I still have such high regard, respect, and gratitude,” he says. “It was the right place for me to be.”
Eventually, Jung would find his way to healthcare, first at IMS Health and then Ascensia, a global diabetes care company that is part of PHC. This kind of work felt different to him. The mission of PHC to contribute to society through healthcare solutions that improve lives made sense for him and was one that connected to his already big heart.
“I’ve had a lot of people tell me that I don’t strike them as a patent attorney,” he says, laughing. “I hope that doesn’t mean I don’t sound credible. I hope that means that I have avoided sounding overly ‘lawyerly’ and can explain sometimes complicated concepts in an understandable way. I’m very conscious of how I treat people, and I always try to remember what it was like to be spoken down to dismissively. I want people across the organization to want to work with me, and I treat people in a way that demonstrates that.”
Despite how humble he is when speaking about himself, he is willing to admit that he feels like he’s earned his reputation. If he’s working with engineers, he benefits from a strong fundamental baseline for communicating given his tech background. That means Jung can partner with researchers and engineers in a way that base-level communication flows much more freely.
“I think the amount of education I’ve had really just gives me an appreciation for how much more they know,” Jung says. “Whether it’s technology, sciences, or engineering, we have the hard sciences background that I’m not sure a lot of other non-IP lawyers possess. When I’m working to understand their challenges, I think I’m able to get there a little easier and a little quicker.”
When asked to give advice for those striving to emulate Jung’s multifaceted trajectory, he laughs. “This path isn’t one I would recommend to anyone, not even my own kids. There are easier ways to get there,” the IP attorney says. “But I would encourage people to engage their curiosity and nourish it. Appreciate the value of hard work. Never stop learning, even if it’s not your area of expertise.”
Case in point: Jung is currently growing vegetables in his backyard and seeking out gardening counsel wherever he can. He especially enjoys growing vegetables that aren’t easily sourced at the local grocery store.
Just like his own vegetables, the accomplished attorney continues to water his own curiosity and provides an amazing example to his young children about following your dreams.
Erise IP is patent counsel for Ascencia, a PHC Holdings company, which provides diabetes treatment systems. Erise has assisted PHC’s Dennis Jung and Ascencia to efficiently support their patent portfolio by offering efficient prosecution using novel fee arrangements that provide yearly fixed pricing for budgeting certainty. Erise’s patent prosecution team is led by Jennifer Bailey, who was named one of the world’s leading patent professionals in this year’s IAM Patent 1000 as well as a “Patent Star” by IP Stars. In addition, Erise was chosen as a “Practice Group of the Year” for intellectual property by Law360.