Early in his career, Brian O’Shaughnessy quickly learned a key difference between the scientific world and the legal world: There isn’t always a right answer when it comes to the law. As an intellectual property attorney, O’Shaughnessy works in a field that he says is often filled with uncertainty. One thing he does know for certain, though, is that his contributions to RIT have not gone unnoticed.
Like many other RIT students and alumni, O’Shaughnessy ’81, ’84 (chemistry) was attracted to the university by the opportunity to participate in the co-op program.
As the youngest child in his family, growing up in Gouverneur, N.Y., he knew that he needed to find a way to offset the costs of attending college.
The opportunity to gain real-world experience at the same time sealed the deal in his college search.
While on his way to earning a master’s degree in chemistry at RIT, O’Shaughnessy’s interest was piqued by intellectual property and patent law. He went on to earn a law degree from Syracuse University, and he currently works with intellectual property law firm RatnerPrestia, in Washington, D.C.
O’Shaughnessy will be honored for his ongoing support of RIT with the Outstanding Alumnus Award at the Presidents’ Alumni Ball on Oct. 11 during Brick City Homecoming & Family Weekend.
As one of RIT’s most generous alumni donors, O’Shaughnessy, who currently serves on the RIT Board of Trustees and lives in Potomac, Md., has contributed to a variety of funds for students and the university as a whole.
“I’m extremely honored. We are all stewards of the education we’ve received,” he says. “I feel strongly that we owe an obligation to give back, and to perpetuate, enlarge and expand our university’s mission and to contribute to its ongoing success.”
O’Shaughnessy’s externally focused attitude has not only brought him recognition from RIT, but he says it has also made him a better father, husband and lawyer. He says that he has grown as a result of the opportunities he has been given by RIT.
“Over the years, Brian has shown himself to be a true Tiger through his personal dedication to RIT,” says Kelly Redder, assistant vice president of alumni relations at RIT. “He is an accomplished, enthusiastic, loyal and even witty advocate for RIT— an outstanding example of what we hope for all graduates of this university.”
By receiving this award, O’Shaughnessy joins the ranks of some of RIT’s most talented and inspirational alumni.
He says the award is an affirmation of his belief that helping others without thought of remuneration is among the most gratifying of life’s experiences.
“In the practice of law, there are rarely absolutes; you’re never entirely sure if you are doing it all right,” he says. “One thing that I’ve always felt is right, though, has been my decision to lend my time, talent and treasure in support of RIT.”