40 Under 40 Class of 2009

Karen Chadwell

Karen Chadwell

Age 37: Associate Attorney, Doherty, Wallace, Pillsbury & Murphy, P.C.

Karen Chadwell knows a lot about dreams — both those with happy endings and those that never come to fruition.

As a patent attorney, Chadwell works with and for people who come to her with vague ideas, sophisticated plans, and everything in between.

As a member of the Longmeadow Conservation Committee, Chadwell sees people whose dreams of putting an addition on their home or adding a swimming pool can be realized, as well as those whose proposals would adversely affect the environment and wetlands.

The mother of 3-year-old Jimmy and 2-year-old Catherine finds her work and civic involvement fascinating, satisfying, and worthwhile.

Chadwick spends a lot of time educating prospective clients, without charge, about what is involved in taking an invention from idea to market and making it profitable. Her desire to help has spurred pro bono work, including help finding manufacturers or marketing firms for clients.

“I’m a conduit for people to manifest ideas into something that will have worth and value,” she said, adding that many people have no idea just how lengthy and complex the process of bringing an idea to the marketplace can be. “These people are supporting families, and it’s an expensive process with no guaranteed results. I don’t want them to be shocked and disappointed if things don’t go quickly or work out.”

Chadwell’s original life goal was pharmaceutical research, but after earning her bachelor’s degree from Loyola University, a stint in the lab changed her mind, and she returned to Loyola’s law school.

“Helping people is very important to me,” she said, adding that she describes herself as “very analytical” but also someone who does a great deal of hand-holding.

Her work on the Conservation Committee also involves education. “It’s important for people to know how everyday activities impact the environment and have long-term effects,” she explained. “I spend a lot of time trying to ground people.”

And also, helping them fly off the ground with ideas that work.

—Kathy Mitchell