My name is Annie Gerspach, and I am an associate in the Intellectual Property (IP) Practice in the Chicago office. I first learned of CRA through on-campus recruiting and networking during the fall of my junior year at the University of Notre Dame. After interviewing on campus, I was fortunate enough to receive an offer for a summer internship in Chicago. The internship provided a thorough representation of what my role as an analyst would be. When extended an offer to join the firm full-time, I was thrilled to accept.
I decided to join CRA as a full-time analyst for the challenging, dynamic nature of the project work and the collaborative, collegial environment, both of which offer opportunities for professional and personal growth.
Days spent as an analyst or associate in the IP Practice can take on many different forms so it’s difficult to describe a “typical” day. My primary responsibilities within a project team include creating financial models, conducting market research, and analyzing company financial statements, sales data, and legal documents. Some days I will only work within Excel and others are more research oriented. Usually my days involve a combination of the two. A good chunk of my time is also spent in informal meetings discussing the progress of the project with my team. As a deadline approaches, we will meet with the clients in a formal setting to review the work we have done. Ultimately, the product of my research and analyses is used as support in expert reports and trial testimony.
I am typically staffed on projects that are intellectual property related litigation or valuation assignments. The cases I have worked on thus far have involved different types of intellectual property (trade secret misappropriation, patent infringement, breach of contract, etc.). The projects have also spanned various industries, including consumer products, SaaS, medical devices, and pharmaceuticals.
A typical project team consists of 3 or 4 people – a vice president (or expert), a project manager, and one or two junior consultants. Because the team is small, each member plays a very important role. The juniors work closely with the data, and because the project manager and testifying expert are not as familiar with the details of the data, the juniors are valuable assets to the team. As a key player on the project team, you are constantly developing technical and “softer” skills. These softer skills include being able to collaborate on ideas, balancing simultaneous projects and responsibilities, communicating with your project managers and VPs, as well as articulating your analyses in writing. Every day in the office brings another opportunity to learn. I am often faced with problems for which there may not be a clear solution. My coworkers are always willing to answer questions I might have, whether they are staffed on the project or not. This makes the office a very collaborative space.
I believe people of all levels at CRA work so well together because we take time to interact on a social level. On most days, you can find the junior staff eating lunch together in the kitchen. Every now and then, a vice president will invite us to grab drinks together after work. The annual holiday party, summer IP Practice outing, and office-wide events throughout the year are other opportunities to have fun outside of project work. I’ve also played on a couple of the CRA intramural sports teams, which is a great way to unwind with coworkers after a busy work day.
In addition to project work and social events, there are many other ways to get involved with the firm. I have been involved with a variety of business development efforts. For example, I helped a VP create a presentation on trade secrets, which was then presented to attorneys and other professionals in the intellectual property field. I also worked on developing a database to help target cases for potential engagements. In addition to working on business development initiatives, I am involved in recruiting efforts. More specifically, I participate in on-campus recruiting, as well as in-office interaction with intern and full-time analyst candidates. Being involved in all of these ways, professionally and socially, has helped shape my experience at CRA into a very well-rounded and rewarding one.