A born tinkerer', Liabo-VanDerPol helps foster new technology.

Byline: Nate Beck

As a "born tinkerer," Erica Liabo-VanDerPol has always been drawn to new technology.

When she was an undergrad, she wanted to study advertising and music to write jingles for commercials. But she was pulled into computer science after finding her interest piqued by a job that had her organizing molecular-biology symposiums in college. (The jingles she comes up with now are mostly written with her toddler.)

She'd go on to get a degree in computer science and open her own web-development company, designing sites for a variety of clients political campaigns, a newspaper, a bank. Yet she still found herself struggling with a recurring problem: She wasn't always getting paid.

Some of the contracts listed a complex set of delivery dates and required her to develop custom web products for clients. So she began delving deeper into how such agreements are drawn up. What she learned held her interest. Law school was the next logical step.

Once there, Liabo-VanDerPol gained a broad range of experiences, taking a position in the Iowa Court of Appeals. Deciding to pursue intellectual-property law, she found a job in Madison at Boardman & Clark, working in a...

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