Michael Ofori ‘21 Receives Prestigious IP Diversity Scholarship


What keeps inventors up at night?

Michael Ofori found out when he was an undergraduate at Cornell University’s College of Engineering, majoring in Information Science, Systems, and Technology. It proved to be a formative discovery.

“I would talk to fellow engineering students who were working on programs and products and they always had this fear of some ominous big business swooping in and taking their hard work,” Ofori says. “Given the effort that goes into these projects, naturally the ability to defend a right of ownership would be a major concern. I developed a new respect for patents, licenses, and other intellectual property safeguards that protect innovators and I wanted to learn more. That’s what brought me to St. John’s Law.”

At St. John’s, Ofori is pursuing his interest in Intellectual Property (IP) Law through coursework that includes Introduction to Intellectual Property, Patent Application Preparation & Prosecution, Copyright Law, Software Licensing Agreements, and Advanced Topics in Intellectual Property. He is also a member of the student-run Intellectual Property Law Society.

His enthusiasm, dedication, and success as a student of IP Law has earned Ofori this year’s New York Intellectual Property Law Association (NYIPLA) Hon. Giles S. Rich Diversity Scholarship.

Each year, the NYIPLA selects one law school to receive this $10K scholarship. The law school then awards the scholarship to a student based on its IP faculty’s recommendation and the student’s:

  • Expressed interest in pursuing a career in IP Law
  • Status as a minority student who represents a group that has been traditionally underrepresented in the legal profession
  • Academic eligibility adhering to the law school’s standard internal merit-based scholarship requirements

This marks the ninth consecutive year that a St. John’s Law student has won the award, and Ofori is thrilled to be the recipient as he looks forward to a career as a patent lawyer helping tech startups protect their software and other innovations.

“I see IP protections, and patents more particularly, as incentivizing creativity and progress,” he says. “Ease of access to ideas and information on the internet makes it essential to recognize and secure the property rights of software and digital technology creators, especially so new inventors aren’t deterred from making their own contributions.”

As he enters his final year at St. John’s Law, Ofori is grateful for the support the NYIPLA scholarship provides. “I’m very proud to have been acknowledged in this way,” he shares. “My family is from Ghana, and my grandfather was a lawyer there. I’m now continuing that tradition as an aspiring patent lawyer. It’s wonderful that the NYIPLA is taking on the role of encouraging minority law students and advancing diversity in the legal profession. I’ll do everything I can to make their investment in my legal education worthwhile and to pay it forward.”