Elisabeth Rotermund '09 : Intellectual Property Law Society Co-President
For most people at the law school who know Elisabeth Rotermund '09—Moot Court Honor Board member and Intellectual Property Law Society co-president—remembering how to pronounce her last name has been a challenge. “It’s Rot-er-mund” [wrote-er-mund] she kindly corrects when a student or the occasional professor misspeaks. Perhaps it reminds her of her hometown of Frankfurt, Germany whenever she needs to explain the pronunciation of her name. When translated into English, the German word Rotermund means “red mouth.” The appropriateness of the translation can be seen in Rotermund’s smile as she passes through the hallway.
Most UC law students look forward to working in locations across the nation following graduation. Many hope to find themselves in D.C., Chicago, or even a foreign country where they can put their legal expertise to work. But Rotermund already has a lifetime of experience living around the globe to help guide her post-graduate employment decisions.
Rotermund, whose father served in the military, was born in Frankfurt, Germany where she lived until the age of three when her family moved to San Antonio, Texas. She completed most of first grade in Texas before moving to Honolulu, Hawaii before the school year ended. “When your dad is in the military, you don’t move at the end of the school year,” said Rotermund. “You move when the military needs you to move.” She was able to smoothly transition into island life for the remainder of the school year and spent the next two years in Hawaii before moving to Columbus, Ohio.
Her next home was Chicago where she lived until starting high school and returning to Columbus. Rotermund and her brothers Stefan, age 20, and Eric, age 28, lived in Columbus through her high school years. After graduating, she attended the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. A year later, though, Rotermund found herself back in Columbus attending The Ohio State University. Three years later she shipped her belongings to Cincinnati.
Science Major and Cheerleader
Most people are not surprised to learn that Rotermund spent her first year at the Catholic University studying biology in the pre-medicine track. Most are surprised, however, to learn that she also spent her first year of college holding up gravity-defying acrobats as a base for the university’s cheerleading squad. Her love of everything science and her energetic personality explain both her major and her extracurricular activity. In addition to being a member of Catholic University’s cheerleading squad, Rotermund kept herself busy as a member of the Biology Club, the College Republicans, and classes she took through the university’s Honors Program.
With all of her accomplishments, however, it was an event after one of her cheerleading routines of which she is most proud. “We had a basketball game against a school in Virginia and John Ashcroft’s son played on the opposing team,” Rotermund explained. “Conservative that I am, I was so excited that I couldn’t stand it. We did our routine during half time and after it was over I went into the lobby to call my mom to tell her I had seen Mr. Ashcroft in the stands.” As it turned out, John Ashcroft had seen Rotermund as well. “Just as I was dialing, Mr. Ashcroft walked out of the gym, patted me on the arm and said ‘You did a good job out there,’” she exclaimed. “So John Ashcroft complimented me on my impeccable cheerleading skills,” Rotermund said with a laugh.
Following her move to Columbus, Rotermund did not change her routine. She loved being involved and became a member of OSU’s College Republicans, a Buckeye for Bush, and a volunteer with a Catholic outreach group. In addition, she helped with voter registration during the 2004 election and met with Senator Sam Brownback from Kansas. He shared his views on a different kind of stem cell research that aligned with his hope of furthering scientific advancement while still conforming to his religious convictions. “Senator Brownback explained how this different type of research could be done and could be rectified with the Catholic faith” she explained. “Being a science person and reconciling it with my religious views…this talk certainly had a strong impact on me.”
Change of Careers: From Science to Law
Rotermund changed her mind about her future career plans as she was immersed in her scientific coursework. “I felt that there were limited avenues to pursue in the science field,” Rotermund said. “You can be a biologist or a teacher or a doctor,” she continued. “I hated the idea of teaching because I tried to help my brother through school and realized I had no patience. I worked in a lab at Catholic and found that to be monotonous and isolated. I’m more outgoing so that wouldn’t work either.”
Finally Rotermund toyed with the thought of entering the medical field. She ultimately decided against it after seeing some of the struggles her mother had while working as a nurse. Luckily, Rotermund’s mother had a friend who worked as a patent attorney. “I spoke with her and thought it would be the best of both worlds,” said Rotermund. “I’m analytical and I’m interested in promoting new technologies. I’ve really become comfortable with the idea of practicing in the patent field, specifically in patent litigation.”
Rotermund entered UC Law in 2006 and has had the chance to work in the intellectual property area. She has worked for Cincinnati Public Schools, UC’s Intellectual Property office, and Luxottica Retail. “At Cincinnati Public I met with the general counsel and she gave me an amazing opportunity to share their IP policy because they didn’t have anything on the books. It was a great opportunity to dive in head first because I got to handle a lot of issues,” said Rotermund. “It really was a mixed bag.” Her time at UC’s IP office was spent working on investigating technologies created by the university and staff and addressing any IP concerns in the transfer of the technology. At Luxottica, she has gained a greater appreciation for the business side of intellectual property law.
Beyond the Classroom
What does Rotermund do during her down time? If by “down time” one means “down to business time,” Rotermund currently serves on the Moot Court Honor Board as Lexis Nexis competition director. Over the past two months she supervised the Moot Court Honor Board try-outs for second year students by organizing, scheduling, and implementing a 60-student competition involving writing and oral arguments. She is also serving her second term as IP Law Society co-president. Her responsibilities include gathering potentially interested students and introducing them to the field of IP law. The group recently partnered with Cincy IP, a group of IP attorneys in the Cincinnati area, for a project that Rotermund spearheaded. “We’re putting together a mentoring opportunity where students and professionals pair up and develop mentor/mentee relationships,” she explained. “We want to make students aware that they can be involved in the field while still in the law school and that there are many opportunities to get experience,” Rotermund continued. Her efforts are supplemented by her partnership with Ria Schalnat, an IP attorney at Frost, Brown, Todd who is the president of Cincy IP. Rotermund adds involvement with the Student Ambassadors, Law Republicans, and the Federalist Society to her resume.
Story by Amanda Shoemaker, Staff Writer