By Karen Flores, Asst. Features Editor
Manhattan College alum John Desmarais ‘85 has been selected to receive the 2022 De La Salle Medal at the De La Salle dinner on Wednesday, April 20 at the Plaza Hotel in Manhattan due to his exceptional work in patent law and intellectual property litigation.
The De La Salle Medal is the college’s highest honor which is awarded to executives who exemplify principles of excellence and corporate leadership.
According to an article by Pete McHugh on the Manhattan College website, manhattan.edu, Desmarais graduated from Manhattan College with a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering with magna cum laude distinction. He was also awarded the chemical engineering medal. Upon graduation, Desmarais went to New York University School of Law, where he earned his J.D. in 1988.
Demarais then went on to work at Fish & Neave, where he practiced intellectual property litigation and counseling until 1992. He then went on to serve as an assistant United States attorney in the Southern District of New York for three years, and returned to Fish & Neave once more. In 1997, he became a partner at the New York office of Kirkland & Ellis and later on became head of the Firmwide Intellectual Property Litigation practice. Here, he secured many top jury verdicts against companies like Microsoft.
After 13 years working at Kirkland, Desmarais left and founded Desmarais LLP which is an Intellectual Property trial boutique with locations in Manhattan, San Francisco and Washington D.C. He has also founded companies like Round Rock Research LLP that have negotiated licenses with many of the largest technology companies in the world. Desmarais is also a trustee at Manhattan College and was named “Lawyer of the Year” in the Litigation-Intellectual Property category in NY in the 2021 U.S. edition of Best Lawyers.
Kristen Farrell, director of the institutional giving and special programs, told The Quadrangle about Desmarais’ nomination for the De La Salle medal as well as the dinner via email.
“The President along with a group of employees nominate the De La Salle Medalist. John Desmarais is an alumnus who has had an impressive career as an intellectual property (IP) attorney and is an incredible supporter of Manhattan College’s mission,” she wrote.
The De La Salle Dinner was established in 1951, which Farrell stated is the year marking the tricentennial of the birth of Saint John Baptist de La Salle, allowing the dinner to hold true to lasallian values and the people who the people who exemplify them.
Farrell also noted the dinner is held to raise “essential, unrestricted income for the college, which is applied to a wide variety of needs, particularly student scholarships and financial aid.”
Brother Jack Curran, FSC, Ph.D., has worked with Desmarais on the mission and strategic planning committee and talked of his mannerism and involvement with Manhattan College.
“He would often ask us [faculty and staff and administration] how whatever we’re doing in terms of strategic planning, how are students benefiting from it?” Curran said. “He’s hoping he helps to keep our eye on that ball, to keep the focus on the students and their well being so that they become successful in their own personal lives. He’s also a very accomplished professional. He is a lawyer, he’s founded a company with intellectual property rights. So I mean, that’s very complicated and sophisticated and he’s a leader in the field of law. So he’s a very successful person who’s not forgotten about where he got a good grounding in his education era, so he’s a faithful friend.”
Tim Ward, P.E, dean of the school of engineering, believes that Desmarais exemplifies what it means to be a successful alum and hopes that students working towards going into the world of engineering see that hard work and dedication can take them far.
“He exemplifies the great alumni that come out of the School of Engineering. He also exemplifies the fact that once you have an engineering degree, you can go do a lot of other things besides engineering,” Ward said.
Ward, Curran, Farrell and other faculty members hope students will see Desmarais, one of many successful alums that come out of Manhattan College, and feel encouraged about their futures.
“I would hope that students might be inspired or encouraged to reflect on their own experience while they’re here, and to consider that Desmarais, that’s graduated more than 35 years ago, is still connected, and is still grateful and involved in supporting this place,” Curran said. “He tells me that this place and the people here, the faculty and the relationships that he had with the students and fellow classmates were significant and I hope that students are encouraged by that, and inspired by that themselves.”