The center infant of a civil engineer and a homemaker in montville, new jersey, elderkin (then dianne brown) grew up an introvert with an affinity for the sciences. “i used to be constantly higher in them than in language or arts,” says elderkin, who recently moved over to akin gump strauss hauer & feld from woodcock washburn. “i loved the e-book getting to know and the principle.” majoring in chemistry at bucknell college, she became making plans on a career in a lab coat whilst she started out doing fieldwork. “i had stayed on campus one summer time and did studies with one of my professors,” she recollects, “and he told me how appallingly awful i used to be at it. I concept, ‘you’re proper.’ my heart wasn’t in it.” what her heart changed into in turned into her relationship together with her then-boyfriend, now-husband david. They met in physics class. “it became over an oscilloscope,” she says. As destiny would have it, david had an uncle who was a patent legal professional. “patent law changed into something i’d by no means heard of before,” elderkin says. She listened as he spoke about getting a hazard to live on top of advancements in numerous fields. “it regarded like a manner i should combine my interest in technology without having to do the technology at once, which i wasn’t excellent at,” she says. “i idea, ‘i’ve were given to research this patent law component.’” after acquiring her degree in chemistry in 1975, she enrolled at george washington university law faculty, one of the few schools with a patent regulation software at that point. She thrived on the material however appeared an not likely legal professional. “i was one of the quiet ones within the back of the lecture room, searching down, hoping not to be known as on by way of the professor,” she says. “i was by no means referred to as on for moot court docket. I by no means saw myself going into litigation. “that would trade.” after law school, elderkin, who's now fifty six, and her husband, sought a domestic where they might revel in a more rural life than washington, d. C., presented, and moved to west chester to elevate a family (they now have children). From there, she commuted to paintings as a lawyer for dupont, based totally in delaware. She specialized in patent prosecution, running alongside scientists, liaising with the u. S. Patent and trademark office, and attempted to obtain significant patent claims for the enterprise. Thru it all, she remained in a relaxed location—the historical past. In 1987, a former colleague wooed her far from dupont to woodcock washburn, which changed into then looking to fill its ranks with skilled more youthful lawyers. “what i keep in mind about looking to lease her is that she is an at once likeable man or woman who genuinely is very professional and really equipped,” says phil johnson, one of the partners who hired her, who's now chief highbrow assets counsel for johnson & johnson. At the beginning, she persevered the sort of patent-prosecution work she’d executed at dupont. She become bookish, unobtrusive, effective, and nowhere close to a court. That’s the way she wanted it. Until someday she didn’t. “after a year or so, i noticed what [the litigators] have been doing, and i said, ‘that appears type of fun,’” she says. Her first stand-up become in 1989 whilst she argued on behalf of a patron claiming highbrow belongings rights for a pistol-like dental device used to inject composite substances. She turned into anxious but assured. She knew she had done her homework. “instruction, coaching, guidance,” she says. “that’s how i manipulate level fright.” she received that one and has persevered prevailing. “she has a low-key fashion and has a tendency to create a actually desirable rapport with the jury and those she’s handling,” says ken dow, vice chairman of patent law for centocor ortho biotech. “she is capable of communicate complicated thoughts and ideas very effortlessly in a manner that makes it comprehensible to humans.” in the ones first years she dealt with an eclectic array of instances, many related to clinical gadgets, inclusive of a sequence concerning hand held blood-glucose monitors and surgical units. As her enjoy grew, so did her popularity as a smooth-spoken however calm and meticulous legal professional. “i’ve in no way seen her lose her cool—she’s not the kind of person who flips out,” says barbara mullin of akin gump, and elderkin’s right hand inside the centocor case. “she expresses her anxiety by consuming chocolate—it facilitates her suppose.” in 2006, elderkin became passed the case that absolutely required baggage of ghirardelli to get thru: centocor inc. V. Abbott laboratories. The complicated case concerned whether abbott’s wildly profitable anti-arthritis drug humira infringed a patent centocor and nyu held for its very own anti-inflammatory, a drug named remicade. Abbott argued that because centocor’s drug turned into in part derived from mouse antibodies, abbott’s drug, which used absolutely human antibodies, wasn’t in violation of the patent. The stakes were monumental: remicade had $3. 75 billion in 2008 sales on my own, according to abbott. “it become a project as it’s absolutely captivating era,” elderkin says. “that’s what i like approximately being a patent lawyer—operating on modern regions with awesome scientists, gaining knowledge of generation and teaching it to humans.” after assembling a criminal crew loaded with ph. D. S and specialists, elderkin began devising her approach. It took years but she did now not fluster, and while the trial started out she was immaculately prepared. She also confirmed a deft contact in supplying a human size to the complicated struggle. She put a centocor researcher on the stand and requested him to describe the joy he felt in knowing that a product he advanced become assisting hundreds of thousands of purchasers. After a week at trial in marshall, texas, the case went to the jury. And the jury went for $1. 67 billion. “to get a end result like this is about is as excellent because it gets,” elderkin says. Things aren’t over. Abbott, of course, has appealed the selection, so elderkin can’t move into plenty detail about the case just but. But now not lots of attorneys can ever say they’ve been on the warm facet of a thousand million-dollar verdict. It’s work that led her to be the primary girl to be named “litigator of the week” with the aid of the yank legal professional, among different distinctions. “the fight is going on,” she says.