Chemists in the Real World


Tashica Williams Amirgholizadeh, 
Corporate Counsel

Tashica Amirgholizadeh followed the tried-and-true path taken by many undergraduate chemistry majors: earning a Ph.D. During her graduate school tenure, however, she learned of colleagues who decided to continue on a less common career path: that of patent litigator. She was intrigued and, upon researching the field, decided that it would be a perfect fit for her.

After obtaining her doctorate, she attended law school and then worked at a major international firm for approximately six years, until she moved to her present position in May 2013. As corporate counsel at Gilead Sciences, she is responsible for advising business, research, and legal colleagues concerning intellectual property matters with an emphasis on patent litigation — both domestic and international.

What's a typical day on the job like?

Each day brings new and interesting challenges. Because I am employed by a fast growing company, this rapid growth brings with it new issues. I can spend roughly half of my day in meetings and the other half managing outside counsel around the world. We engage in a variety of matters, including Hatch-Waxman litigation, which involves defending our patent against generic challenges. We also do other things in terms of prosecution — for example, getting patents to protect our products.

Typically, how many days each month do you spend away from your workplace on travel?

1-5 days. My travel can involve anything related to a particular case — depositions, hearings, and similar activities. In such cases, my role is to serve as the legal face of the company.

Are there any apps/software/instrumentation/tools that you can't live without?

I cannot live without my iPhone and iPad. I also have a healthy attachment to my Yelp app, since my work requires travel.

Describe your work environment.

I have a typical work environment – i.e., I work in an office with common equipment (e.g., computer, etc.).

Does your job follow a typical 9-to-5 schedule?

I generally work eight to nine hours per day. The pace of the work environment is determined by the most active matters on any given day. I would say that, overall, the environment is fast paced.

 What do you like most about your job?

I believe that the best aspect of my job is the fact that I am entrusted with a great deal of responsibility related to the intellectual property rights of some of my company’s important product pipelines. I also enjoy my frequent interactions with extraordinarily smart scientists and my legal colleagues, who bring a wealth of experience to their respective positions and thus I continue my professional development.

What is your best productivity trick?

My best productivity trick is the creation of daily lists! This “trick” helps to keep me organized and enables me to prioritize matters on a daily basis.

What's the best career advice you've received?

The best career advice that I have received is to make sure that I love what I do (and success will follow). I also have been told to hold fast to the curiosity that made me a great scientist.

Do you have any special talents or traits that make you a great fit for your job?

I believe that the personal trait that makes me a great fit for my job is the fact that I am meticulous – a trait that served me well as a chemist.

Is there anything else you would like to mention about your career?

Intellectual property law generally — and patent litigation in particular — is a field that continues to excite me intellectually. While I am no longer at the bench, I am always exposed to cutting edge research and science that continues to feed the intellectual hunger that pushed me into science years ago.

One of the aspects of my position at Gilead that really appealed to me was the chance to develop a broader skill set. As an in-house attorney, one is not only concerned with the legal aspects of the company, but the business side as well, which demands a more fulsome skill set. 

What is your favorite ACS resource?

Chemical & Engineering News is my favorite ACS resource. It keeps me abreast of some of the hot topics and issues of the moment.