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James Robert Nault of Derry, N.H., obtained a J.D. in Law
Why did you choose Cornell?
In my last job in the Navy I was the commanding officer of the Naval ROTC Unit at Cornell and took two classes at the Law School and absolutely loved it.
Did any of your beliefs or interests change during your time at Cornell?
The biggest thing for me is that as you get older you tend to have a less than positive opinion of the generation that follows you, but being here has reaffirmed my faith in the brilliance of today's 20-somethings, at least the ones that go to Cornell Law School. I really feel like going to Cornell Law School at age 48 has kind of given me a second lease on life. I could have done what most of my contemporaries have done and stayed in the defense contractor realm, but I really wanted to re-energize my brain. I know I won't be able to practice law for as long as some of my younger classmates, but that's okay. I am looking forward to my second career, this time in the legal world.
What are your plans for next year; where do you see yourself in 10 years?
I am going to be an associate in the Intellectual Property Group at Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson in Manhattan. After one year there, I will clerk for a federal appellate judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for 11th Circuit in Jacksonville, Fla. After my one-year tour of duty with him, I will head back to Fried Frank. In 10 years I hope to be a partner at Fried Frank.
What Cornell memory do you treasure the most?
The friendship that my classmates have shown me. I was somewhat worried that some of them might wonder who this weird old guy was or might not want to associate with me, but that has not been the case at all.
After college, what did you do?
I was a career submarine officer in the U.S. Navy. After three tours of duty on submarines, I was the commanding officer of USS Toledo, a nuclear attack submarine, then the staff submarine officer at the Navy's Sixth Fleet in the Mediterranean, and I stood watch as the Sixth Fleet Battle Watch Captain, overseeing dual aircraft carrier air strikes and Tomahawk missile launches into northern Iraq during the initial phases of Operation Iraqi Freedom. After 27 years on active duty, I retired at the rank of captain in 2008.
Why is your research area important/why are you passionate about it?
I am specializing in intellectual property, specifically patent law. I have a bachelor's and a master's degree in mechanical engineering, so I understand and enjoy the technology behind most patents. And submarines are basically about 100 kinds of technology all jammed into a big steel tube. Also, patent law is fascinating because there are a number of areas where the law of patents is very unsettled.
While at Cornell, what extracurricular activities or other accomplishments were important to you or you are most proud of?
I was elected by classmates to be the editor-in-chief of the Cornell International Law Journal. We were able to publish some incredibly important legal scholarship on time and with high quality. Additionally, I think we improved the way the journal does business and trained our reliefs well.