‘My hope is that young Hispanic/Latino lawyers see and realize their potential.’

Reinaldo Franqui Machin

From Ph.D. to J.D., Howard Law Class of 2022’s Reinaldo Franqui Machin plans to use his legal training to effect change for budding Hispanic/Latino patent attorneys 

For Class of 2022’s Reinaldo Franqui Machin, the path to the Howard University School of Law J.D. wasn’t quite straight and narrow. Full of family struggles and a journey to his first doctorate degree, Machin found his way to Howard law in pursuit of a specific area of focus: patent law.

Machin was born and raised in Puerto Rico, but after his mother was diagnosed with a brain tumor and the family experienced hardships from the diagnosis, he was left with a burning desire to fight cancer. So, he moved to the U.S. and earned a Ph.D. in molecular biology from the University of Iowa, where he specialized in understanding and overcoming drug resistance in cancer and discovered a new molecular pathway that leads to chemotherapy resistance. 

“As I progressed in my scientific career, however, I fell in love with intellectual property and patents as a tool that helps creative minorities climb the socioeconomic ladder,” Machin said. “I met many patent agents, attorneys, and inventors, but I noticed that there were barely any people in the profession that looked like me, and barely any Hispanics/Latinos were patenting their inventions.”

Machin took his efforts to help diversify the field by founding an initiative called Bench 2 Benchthrough which he explains patent law and other legal topics in Spanish so that young Puerto Rican scientists can be informed about patent protection and so many more can consider this as a career alternative. Since then, Machin has been acting as a science writer on his website and providing free talks to universities, nonprofits, and student organizations. But still, he wanted more.

“When I chose to go to Howard law, I did so because the institution has an unparalleled legacy of striving for diversity and inclusion, topics that have guided my career path,” said Machin, who was executive publications editor for the Howard Law Journal. “These past three years have allowed me to understand how the law has been affecting me and my family in ways that I did not realize. With this powerful legal training and a much better understanding of the issues affecting my community, I will be in the perfect position to fight and make sure patents become a tool that helps everyone, regardless of color or background.”

With a Howard law J.D. in-hand, Machin will go on to be an associate at Finnegan Henderson, one of the most renowned firms in the intellectual property industry. His J.D. will “give (him) a seat at the table in an industry that needs more voices that advocate for diversity and inclusion,” he said, and allow him the ability to financially contribute to his mother's constant medical care in Puerto Rico.

Beyond the J.D., Machin has high hopes for his fellow young Hispanic/Latino attorneys – to “see and realize their potential,” he said.

“Many of us are first generation lawyers, so we do not have professional role models to follow and emulate,” Machin continued. “Still, we are every bit as capable as anyone else entering this profession, especially if we work hard to perfect the craft. However, hard work is only half the battle—I would hope that these young Hispanic/Latino lawyers actively look (for) and maintain a robust network of professionals who are their mentors and champions. The combination of hard work and a support network would surely help anybody succeed as a lawyer, but it is critical for those of us who look a little bit different than most attorneys out there.”