Melissa A. Anyetei, Esq.
Mayer Brown LLP
If Melissa Anyetei could speak to her younger self, she would say, “Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone and don’t be scared of failure.” Anyetei’s parents are role models for taking risks. Her father left Ghana to study economics and science in the United States, while her mother, an accountant, migrated from the Philippines. “They just left their countries by themselves and knew they were going to make it, no matter what,” Anyetei says. “They instilled in me that education is important and the key to success and freedom.”
Anyetei seized the opportunity to chart her own course by changing her field of study. Initially, she wanted to follow in her father’s footsteps and earned a bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering at Northwestern University. After an uninspiring internship, however, she decided that engineering was not for her. She enrolled in Columbia University School of Law and found her calling at the intersection of law and technology. Now, a partner in the Chicago office of Mayer Brown LLP, Anyetei focuses on patent litigation, procurement and counseling, and intellectual property licensing for a wide range of technology clients. “It is exciting and challenging because I deal with new technology like smartphones and medical devices. You see how these products are changing the world and you want to help clients be successful and protect their innovation,” she says.
Anyetei has been recognized many times for her work in intellectual property. One of a few women and persons of color in the field, she is the founder and leader of Mayer Brown Black Lawyers and was the mentorship chair for the Black Women Lawyers’ Association. She insists that more recruitment must be done outside of the top law schools. “Many of the new entrepreneurs are women and we need to represent that more,” she says.