Mike Gencarella JD '97 accepts Owens Lawyer of the Year Award

Lawyer of the Year, Man of the Hour: Michael Gencarella

“Santa Clara Law has been a great resource and touchstone to me for my entire career,” said Michael Gencarella JD ’97 at the 2019 Santa Clara Law Celebration of Achievement dinner on March 16, where he received the Edwin J. Owens Lawyer of the Year Award. Given to a distinguished member of the law school community who is devoted to the highest ideals of the profession and has made significant contributions to the University, the community, and the law, the Owens award was first given in 1966 and is named for Edwin J. Owens, a longtime dean of the law school who was later a superior court judge.

A 20-year veteran of patent law and a self-identified tech geek, Gencarella is California managing partner at Womble Bond Dickinson (WBD), a transatlantic law firm serving corporate, individual, and nonprofit clients across every business sector. With 27 offices on either side of the Atlantic, including 19 U.S. offices, WBD employs more than 1,000 attorneys and is a member of Lex Mundi, a global organization of independent law firms.

In 2017, the firm, then known as Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice LLP, joined with UK-based Bond Dickinson LLP to form Womble Bond Dickinson. Also that year, the firm expanded its West Coast presence by absorbing IP firm Blakely Sokoloff Taylor Zafman LLP, which gave WBD 24 additional lawyers and patent agents as well as offices in Los Angeles, Orange County, and Sunnyvale.

Prior to his role at WBD, Gencarella was partner for nearly 12 years at Martine, Penilla, Gencarella, also known as MPG, and now known as Penilla IP, APC, based in Sunnyvale.

In addition to his JD from Santa Clara Law, Gencarella earned a Bachelor of Science degree in chemical engineering with a minor in mathematics from the University of Rhode Island and an MBA from St. John’s University.

Based in WBD’s Palo Alto office, where there are several other Santa Clara Law alumni on the team, Gencarella provides counsel on all aspects of IP protection with an emphasis on patent prosecution for clients ranging from pre-IPO start-ups to multinational corporations. He also serves as managing partner of the firm’s three growing California offices, which now include more than 40 attorneys, 30 of whom are focused on IP.

Despite his many professional responsibilities, Gencarella has stayed connected to Santa Clara Law through his dedicated service as a longstanding member of the School of Law’s High Tech Institute’s Board. He also served for 6 years as president of the Santa Clara Law Alumni Association Board of Directors and remains a member of that board. Plus, he is an active mentor to numerous law students and alumni, and also serves as a guest lecturer at Santa Clara Law and other Bay Area law schools. “It’s been a great privilege to work closely with the faculty, staff, students and alumni over the years to help build the alumni network, but I’ve also enjoyed the one-on-one contact with Santa Clara law students and alums who are just starting out in their careers,” said Gencarella.

“I’m very pleased and proud to be receiving this award, especially in light of the previous distinguished recipients,” Gencarella added. Past recipients include some of Santa Clara Law’s most distinguished graduates such as Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren JD ’75, Justice Edward A. Panelli BA ’53, JD ’55, and The Honorable Leon Panetta BA ’60, JD ’63, former U.S. secretary of defense.

For more information on the Alumni Awards and past recipients visit law.scu.edu/alumni/alumni-awards.