By Jim Stafford
Copyright © 2014, The Oklahoma Publishing Company
There is a running joke among Oklahomans who have attended the annual Biotechnology Industry Organization convention that they have to travel a thousand miles to meet their neighbors.
There is a lot of truth to that statement.
Back in 2012, I met fellow Oklahoman Mickey Young at the Oklahoma exhibition booth in Boston, but a four-hour flight delay as we were leaving town gave us a longer opportunity to sit down and talk.
“Essentially, you travel 1,600 miles to talk to someone who’s from Oklahoma,” Young said of the networking that the BIO show offers. “You don’t always have the opportunity to talk to the people you ought to be talking to when you are going through your workday in Oklahoma.”
Turns out that Young, 51, trained in Boston, earning undergraduate and graduate biomedical engineering degrees and a medical degree at Boston University and serving fellowships at Spaulding/Massachusetts General Hospital. He was representing the Hall Estill law firm as a patent attorney on the BIO trip.
It wasn’t until much later that I was struck by the irony of Young’s current profession and his medical training.
So I recently stopped by his Hall Estill office in downtown Oklahoma City to ask him what lured him into a law practice from medicine.
Young’s journey into law and to Oklahoma began in his native San Francisco Bay area, then to Boston, and then to the University of Florida for neurology training. After completing the fellowships, he accepted a teaching position in 1998 at the University of Oklahoma College of Medicine.
Young eventually launched a private medical practice in Oklahoma City before being lured to Missoula, Mont., by a neurosurgeon with whom he had trained in Florida.
But with three children approaching high school age, Mickey and his wife, Ellen, decided that Oklahoma City was the best fit for their family. All three children are now in college.
“So we moved back,” Mickey said. “We’ve enjoyed it here. My wife was the one who actually suggested that I look into law. I really wasn’t looking forward to setting up another medical practice.”
Young graduated from Creighton University law school in Omaha, but spent his final year as a visiting student at the University of Oklahoma. He joined Hall Estill in 2012 and now enjoys helping inventors protect their ideas as a patent attorney.
“It’s fun to work with inventors,” he said. “When I get to work with an inventor in the life sciences and medical devices space, I get to draw on my previous medical training and background as well as interact with doctors, life scientists, engineers, and others with whom I can talk their language.”
Oklahoma’s reputation as an inviting place for professionals to live and work has grown in part because of Oklahoma City’s MAPS-inspired renaissance and success of the Thunder basketball team, Young said.
The state’s large presence at the annual BIO show also contributes to that growing reputation.
“The return on investment from the BIO show truly is ‘we’re at the table,’ ” he said. “Now people recognize that Oklahoma is actually an option. That’s what you get for showing up.”
Maybe Mickey Young and I can do some more catching up at this year’s BIO show on June 23-26 in San Diego. It’s only 1,300 miles away.
Jim Stafford is a communications specialist with i2E Inc. in Oklahoma City.