Senior Principal, Co-Chair / Twin Cities / 612-337-2509

Dorothy Whelan

Dorothy P. Whelan is a Senior Principal in the Twin Cities office of Fish & Richardson. Ms. Whelan co-chairs the firm’s Post-Grant Practice Group. She was the first woman to serve on the firm’s Management Committee, and also served on the firm’s Compensation Committee.

Ms. Whelan’s practice emphasizes post-grant proceedings, client counseling, strategic patent portfolio design and management, due diligence investigations, and freedom-to-operate studies, particularly in the chemical and materials science areas. She has extensive experience in post-grant proceedings, having provided the strategic direction for well over 100 post-grant matters involving both challenging and defending patents. When the patents are also the subject of co-pending litigation, Ms. Whelan works closely with the litigation team to design and implement an integrated strategy.

Ms. Whelan develops creative, cost-effective solutions for her clients, which range from start-ups to Fortune 100 companies. Representative technologies include batteries, fuel cells, medical devices and materials, adhesives, optical films, polymer processing, pharmaceuticals, and filtration devices.


Ms. Whelan writes and speaks extensively on topics related to post-grant proceedings and is currently a regular speaker at Fish’s Post-Grant for Practitioners webinar series. She spoke regularly at Fish’s Challenging Patent Validity in the USPTO 2012 webinar series and is a frequent panel member at industry seminars. In previous years, Ms. Whelan spoke regularly at Fish’s Challenging Patent Validity in the USPTO webinar series.


J.D., Boston College Law School 1987
Member, Boston College Law Review 
magna cum laude

S.M., Massachusetts Institute of Technology 1984

B.S., Yale University 1981


  • U.S. Patent and Trademark Office 1989
  • Massachusetts 1987
  • Minnesota 1995


Media Mentions

Speaking Engagements


  • Named a “Leading Patent Professional” and recommended for post-grant proceedings by IAM Patent 1000 (2012-2013, 2016-2021)
  • Recognized as a notable practitioner in Intellectual Property, Chambers USA: Minnesota (2020-2021)
  • Named a “Life Science Star” by LMG Life Sciences (2017-2020)
  • Named  to the “Top 50 Women in PTAB Trials” by the PTAB Bar Association (2019)
  • Named a “IP Star” by Managing Intellectual Property (2013-2020)
  • Named “Post Grant Proceedings Attorney of the Year” by LMG Life Sciences (2018)
  • Named “Attorney of the Year” by Minnesota Lawyer (2017-2018)
  • Named to the “Top 250 Women in IP” by Managing Intellectual Property (2016-2020)
  • Named “Life Sciences MVP of the year” by Law360 (2017)
  • Named to The Best Lawyers in America– Intellectual Property (2014, 2013, 2011, 2008, 2007) and Patent Law (2021, 2020, 2019, 2016, 2015, 2011), and Minneapolis Patent Law Lawyer of the Year (2014 and 2020)
  • Named to the “Top 250 Women in IP” by Euromoney (2013)
  • Named a “Top Patent Prosecutor” by Patent Research Review/Patent Buddy (2011)
  • Received “Women in Business/Industry Leader Award” Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal (2010)
  • Named a Super Lawyer (2003, 2006-2013)
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