Engineer-to-IP Lawyer

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KuchKuch
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Engineer-to-IP Lawyer

Postby KuchKuch » Mon Feb 02, 2015 12:33 pm

Chemical Engineer with 4 years experience in oil/gas and renewable energies industries. I am interested in pursuing IP Law, specifically new technologies and entrepreneurial companies, though open to continuing working in the oil and gas industry. I don't have much desire to do big law and my end goal is to grow a customer database and work for myself. I have a unique situation in that my husband, who is a Chemical Engineer as well, is pursuing IP Law as well. We are going for joint acceptances at all schools.

Reasons for pursuing law school: when looking for a career you should consider your Life/Work Balance, Compensation, and How much you have to Travel. With engineering all three suck. What I am looking for in Law is to satisfy two of those three.

Having been a working professional and also having to handle undergrad debt, I understand what I want out of my next career and the financial implications of law school. What I am struggling with is how much do the rankings mean and basically any input on the schools we have currently gotten into.

Stats: 3.2 gpa, 162 LSAT

Schools we are debating, with financial info and views:

University of Colorado (#43): Both Accepted, love Colorado, with scholarships total tuition would be : $62,200 (me), $102,258 (husband)

University of Indiana (#29): Both Accepted, unsure about living in Indiana, with scholarships total tuition would be : $76,790 (me), $121,791 (husband)

University of North Carolina (#31): Both Accepted, Open to living in North Carolina but don't want to end up in DC, with scholarships total tuition would be : $40,214 (me), $85,214 (husband)

Washington University (#18): Husband Waitlisted, I am in. I think this is our trump school but unsure with the amount of debt. We would be happy staying in the midwest, total tuition would be : $155,306 (me), $155,306 (husband)


So what is the best course to ensure jobs post graduation and put us on the right foot for our legal careers? Any input is welcomed except those who say were stupid to be going into law. I've done the research, I've done the financial calculations, I know what its all about.
Last edited by KuchKuch on Mon Feb 02, 2015 4:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Tomasz
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Re: Engineer-to-IP Lawyer

Postby Tomasz » Mon Feb 02, 2015 1:00 pm

I seriously wonder if you've actually done the financial calculations and the "three requirements"

IP Litigation: lots of travel. Good pay. Horrible work/life balance.

IP Prosecution: less travel. Decent pay, but less than lit. Horrible work/life balance.

On this metric, where are you getting your conclusion regarding engineering?

What kind of clients do you expect to get as a solo IP lawyer? I'm not experienced, so maybe someone can elaborate, but no one with the money to hire a lawyer is going to hire a solo IP. This isn't even an option in IP, to my knowledge (compared to divorce, bankruptcy, personal injury, etc.)

Financially, you're looking at a combined 6 years of lost earning potential for ~400k in debt at graduation. Over the life of repayment it's going to be a lot more.

All that said, most IP jobs listed are in the engineering/computer science side of technology. Unfortunately, chemical engineering is not exactly the right kind. It falls more on the pharm/chemical side.

I'm just not sure your goals (not big law) really match your expectations.

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lhanvt13
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Re: Engineer-to-IP Lawyer

Postby lhanvt13 » Mon Feb 02, 2015 1:07 pm

Could you both wait one year and apply again after re-taking the LSAT? Should be okay with job prospects for patent (do you guys have PhDs?) but the debt amount is pretty high for the schools you've mentioned. And bc you mentioned that you don't have much desire to work in BigLaw, the price tag might be a bit more of a concern. Are you guys at all interested in patent prosecution? From what I've seen and heard, WUSTL might not be a terrible idea for you and your husband with Chem E backgrounds if you're willing to do prosecution.. except the price tag is much too high to justify WUSTL atm.

Then again, my knowledge comes from computer science IP rather than Chem E so, grain of salt

timbs4339
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Re: Engineer-to-IP Lawyer

Postby timbs4339 » Mon Feb 02, 2015 2:12 pm

Holy mountain of marital debt batman.

KuchKuch
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Re: Engineer-to-IP Lawyer

Postby KuchKuch » Mon Feb 02, 2015 3:16 pm

So my conclusions about engineering come from a long list of friends/relatives who are engineers and of course personal experience: Brother- ChemE, Brother-in-law - ChemE, Father-in-Law ChemE, most of my friends are ChemE or some type of engineering. The pay isn't what they advertise, your work/life balance sucks, and for most non-manufacturing engineering jobs you travel for extended periods of time (1 - 15 months at a time). Furthermore, engineering has a compensation glass ceiling.

Tomasz, believe me I've done the calculations. I'm an engineer and freaking love spreadsheets. Lets take CU for example. For myself and husband the total debt for all living expenses and tuition walking out will be $381,364.33. Our monthly payments per month will be $4,633 meaning that to maintain the current standard of living, we must both have a starting salary around $110,000. The 10th percentile salary for a IP Attorney I in Denver is $109,202. With 1,949 law firms that specialize or work with IP cases, we have a pretty good chance of obtaining a position with that salary.

As per the ChemE into IP, I am open to going into anything really and I am sure my expectations and goals will morph as I delve deeper into the subject at college. The solo IP practice was simply an end goal, which I may or may not attain. I have spoken to a few solo practice IP attorneys.

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fats provolone
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Re: Engineer-to-IP Lawyer

Postby fats provolone » Mon Feb 02, 2015 3:18 pm

oh boy

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JohannDeMann
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Re: Engineer-to-IP Lawyer

Postby JohannDeMann » Mon Feb 02, 2015 3:33 pm

sounds like you should try to get better engineering jobs before doing this brilliant plan

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A. Nony Mouse
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Re: Engineer-to-IP Lawyer

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Mon Feb 02, 2015 3:50 pm

KuchKuch wrote:So my conclusions about engineering come from a long list of friends/relatives who are engineers and of course personal experience: Brother- ChemE, Brother-in-law - ChemE, Father-in-Law ChemE, most of my friends are ChemE or some type of engineering. The pay isn't what they advertise, your work/life balance sucks, and for most non-manufacturing engineering jobs you travel for extended periods of time (1 - 15 months at a time). Furthermore, engineering has a compensation glass ceiling.

Tomasz, believe me I've done the calculations. I'm an engineer and freaking love spreadsheets. Lets take CU for example. For myself and husband the total debt for all living expenses and tuition walking out will be $381,364.33. Our monthly payments per month will be $4,633 meaning that to maintain the current standard of living, we must both have a starting salary around $110,000. The 10th percentile salary for a IP Attorney I in Denver is $109,202. With 1,949 law firms that specialize or work with IP cases, we have a pretty good chance of obtaining a position with that salary.

As per the ChemE into IP, I am open to going into anything really and I am sure my expectations and goals will morph as I delve deeper into the subject at college. The solo IP practice was simply an end goal, which I may or may not attain. I have spoken to a few solo practice IP attorneys.

Wait, what? Do you mean 1949 law firms in Denver? There aren't anywhere near that many firms in Denver. And where are you getting the 10th percentile salary info from?

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rondemarino
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Re: Engineer-to-IP Lawyer

Postby rondemarino » Mon Feb 02, 2015 3:56 pm

Tomasz wrote:IP Prosecution: less travel. Decent pay, but less than lit. Horrible work/life balance.


I'm sure you know a couple of people for whom this is true, but this is very much firm-dependent. Between law school buddies and former co-workers, I'd say well over half the prosecution folks I know are working 45-50 hour weeks at worst. And almost everyone has predictable hours.

The bigger problem with prosecution right now is cost pressure from clients. I don't think our firm has a lot of work with fixed fee responses, but more and more EE clients seem to be pushing us this way. Given that partners "review" your work at their insane hourly rate, associates end up having to write off some of their hours on these fixed fee responses. Definitely a major morale killer. Might be the wave of the future. So beware.

Also, prosecution is boring as f$%k. Really, really boring as f$%k.


KuchKuch wrote:Tomasz, believe me I've done the calculations. I'm an engineer and freaking love spreadsheets. Lets take CU for example. For myself and husband the total debt for all living expenses and tuition walking out will be $381,364.33. Our monthly payments per month will be $4,633 meaning that to maintain the current standard of living, we must both have a starting salary around $110,000. The 10th percentile salary for a IP Attorney I in Denver is $109,202. With 1,949 law firms that specialize or work with IP cases, we have a pretty good chance of obtaining a position with that salary.


Out of curiosity, where are you getting this from? Would love to see if there's data for other cities.

Its great that you've done research, but somewhere in the course of your research must have figured out that you could save tens of thousands of dollars by putting a little more effort into the LSAT? You're leaving a lot of money on the table.

timbs4339
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Re: Engineer-to-IP Lawyer

Postby timbs4339 » Mon Feb 02, 2015 3:59 pm

That number of firms in Denver is so absurd as to make me question the source. Is it one of those Payscale/Monster or Avvo sites? Those sites don't produce useful numbers for a host of reasons.

Also remember that if you don't want to work biglaw, you have to subtract those jobs from the ones paying over 110K. Biglaw is a huge percentage of six-figure jobs for entry-levels.

Now there are IP boutique firms that will hire people with STEM degrees, but you want to do more specific research into how many firms in Denver meet that description and whether they hire entry-levels or require biglaw experience. You seem to be using general information (number of firms total, salary for all IP lawyers) to draw a conclusion about a very specific question (how many entry-level IP attorney jobs are there in Denver each year that pay more than 110K but are not biglaw). With more research, you'll get a better handle on the entry-level IP market in Denver or whatever city you want.

I would also highly recommend you go to these schools and talk to people who are members of the Sci Tech club or legal journal to get a feel for the entry-level market. There's been a lot of recent developments in the IP Lit field that may or may not lead to a contraction in this kind of work going forward. That will reduce any IP benefit and make it commensurately harder to secure a six-figure job. From my limited info, there's still a lot of work in Pharma IP which means the firms will still be hiring people with chem degrees.

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rondemarino
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Re: Engineer-to-IP Lawyer

Postby rondemarino » Mon Feb 02, 2015 4:15 pm

KuchKuch wrote:What I am struggling with is how much do the rankings mean and basically any input on the schools we have currently gotten into.


They probably doesn't mean much, but no one is really going to be able to tell you much since you're looking regional law that are in smaller IP markets. Good luck finding someone on this board who can compare the markets in Indianapolis, St. Louis, Denver, and Raleigh. I mean, how did you even choose these cities/schools?

Also, what timbs4339 said.

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ExBiglawAssociate
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Re: Engineer-to-IP Lawyer

Postby ExBiglawAssociate » Mon Feb 02, 2015 4:19 pm

Before you go to law school, you should seriously consider sticking to engineering, getting a PhD and later becoming a testifying expert. It is such an awesome job that you really can't even compare it to what shitty lawyers do all day. Some lawyers make a lot of money, but the work they do is all shit, PURE SHIT. And our lives fucking suck--almost universally. The ONLY lawyers I know who are happy are in PI or government, and they do not make as much money. If you want to do something cool and still have the potential for huge incomes, stick to engineering.

KuchKuch
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Re: Engineer-to-IP Lawyer

Postby KuchKuch » Mon Feb 02, 2015 4:19 pm

Found salary info on: http://www1.salary.com/Intellectual-Pro ... alary.html

I misspoke on the number of IP law firms in Denver. Looks like it is closer to 130. I found my info here: http://www.martindale.com/Results.aspx If anyone knows a better location to research the number of IP law firms in a city, I would love to know. Most of this is basic google searches or working off of forums like this to try and track down numbers.

When I said I don't desire to work Big Law, what I meant was I don't HAVE to do it. I made this comment because I understand that the schools I am looking at don't have a lot of Big Law connections and that it wouldn't be a negative in my eyes when reveiwing these schools. If I get an offer with a big law firm, I will jump on it.

Also want to add that though my degree is ChemE I work with process controls meaning I do a lot of electrical design of facilities and am familiar with the electrical side of engineering which I hope will help with my

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ExBiglawAssociate
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Re: Engineer-to-IP Lawyer

Postby ExBiglawAssociate » Mon Feb 02, 2015 4:21 pm

Just wanted to note that I saw your undergrad GPA. It sucks, so never mind about the PhD thing.

Practicing law still sucks donkey balls, tho.

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Dr. Review
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Re: Engineer-to-IP Lawyer

Postby Dr. Review » Mon Feb 02, 2015 4:29 pm

If your plan requires both of you to find jobs paying $110,000 to service your debt load, you should rethink your plan. The assumptions made to get to that outcome are (at a minimum) as follows:

1. There are firms in your target market that pay $110,000 that are not biglaw shops.
2. The firms from #1 are hiring.
3. The firms from #2 are hiring a total of 2 ChemEs in the same year.
4. The two of you happen to the the lucky ChemE grads that get the rare jobs that fulfill #1, #2 and #3.

If you don't drop the biglaw shops out in assumption #1, you still assume:

A. A significant portion of biglaw shops in your market will be hiring for IP.
B. The firms from A are hiring a total of 2 ChemEs in the same year.
C. You AND your SO will win the 1L lottery and hit the grade cutoffs for B (most students are at median).
D. You AND your SO can suppress your asperger's sufficient to snag CBs from the firms for which you qualify for C (most screeners do not).
E. You AND your SO can manage to get offers from the firms in D (less than 100% of CBs result in offers).


I can tell you as an IP associate in one of the markets you listed above that probably 2 firms in my city would even qualify as firms that COULD fulfill the first set of assumptions in any given year, and that not many more (if any more) fulfill the second set on any given year.

At a minimum, you and your SO need to retake and reapply, hoping for a lower total COA.
Last edited by Dr. Review on Mon Feb 02, 2015 4:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.

timbs4339
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Re: Engineer-to-IP Lawyer

Postby timbs4339 » Mon Feb 02, 2015 4:29 pm

KuchKuch wrote:Found salary info on: http://www1.salary.com/Intellectual-Pro ... alary.html

I misspoke on the number of IP law firms in Denver. Looks like it is closer to 130. I found my info here: http://www.martindale.com/Results.aspx If anyone knows a better location to research the number of IP law firms in a city, I would love to know. Most of this is basic google searches or working off of forums like this to try and track down numbers.

When I said I don't desire to work Big Law, what I meant was I don't HAVE to do it. I made this comment because I understand that the schools I am looking at don't have a lot of Big Law connections and that it wouldn't be a negative in my eyes when reveiwing these schools. If I get an offer with a big law firm, I will jump on it.

Also want to add that though my degree is ChemE I work with process controls meaning I do a lot of electrical design of facilities and am familiar with the electrical side of engineering which I hope will help with my


Don't use Martindale- that's attorney advertising and lawyers/firms will often list IP as a specialty even if their IP experience consists of one partner who has handled one IP matter in her 40 year career. Your link didn't work, but I typed in "Denver intellectual property" and got 133 firms. Just on the first page, I clicked on one which I didn't think had a rep as an IP firm, did an attorney search and found they have eight people in their Denver office of which only one, a partner, has "IP" as a practice area (and that person's profile doesn't mention IP at all but is more geared toward general lit). You can see how those results aren't particularly reliable.

You've got to customize your research. I know it's a lot of work and involves talking to random law students, but you really need to get a list of IP boutiques in your preferred market and get a sense of whether the local biglaw firms choose to hire IP people out of the local school or they hire from T14 schools.

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Desert Fox
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Re: Engineer-to-IP Lawyer

Postby Desert Fox » Mon Feb 02, 2015 4:34 pm

Tomasz wrote:I seriously wonder if you've actually done the financial calculations and the "three requirements"

IP Litigation: lots of travel. Good pay. Horrible work/life balance.

IP Prosecution: less travel. Decent pay, but less than lit. Horrible work/life balance.

On this metric, where are you getting your conclusion regarding engineering?

What kind of clients do you expect to get as a solo IP lawyer? I'm not experienced, so maybe someone can elaborate, but no one with the money to hire a lawyer is going to hire a solo IP. This isn't even an option in IP, to my knowledge (compared to divorce, bankruptcy, personal injury, etc.)

Financially, you're looking at a combined 6 years of lost earning potential for ~400k in debt at graduation. Over the life of repayment it's going to be a lot more.

All that said, most IP jobs listed are in the engineering/computer science side of technology. Unfortunately, chemical engineering is not exactly the right kind. It falls more on the pharm/chemical side.

I'm just not sure your goals (not big law) really match your expectations.


Travel in IP lit is a little overblown. 1-2 times a month.

Work life balance in IP prosecution is probably the best non-government balance you can get.

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rondemarino
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Re: Engineer-to-IP Lawyer

Postby rondemarino » Mon Feb 02, 2015 4:35 pm

Biglaw_Associate_V20 wrote:Just wanted to note that I saw your undergrad GPA. It sucks, so never mind about the PhD thing.

Practicing law still sucks donkey balls, tho.


Expert on PhD admissions, are we?

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Desert Fox
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Re: Engineer-to-IP Lawyer

Postby Desert Fox » Mon Feb 02, 2015 4:37 pm

rondemarino wrote:
Biglaw_Associate_V20 wrote:Just wanted to note that I saw your undergrad GPA. It sucks, so never mind about the PhD thing.

Practicing law still sucks donkey balls, tho.


Expert on PhD admissions, are we?


3.2 for PhD is a pretty long shot though right.

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A. Nony Mouse
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Re: Engineer-to-IP Lawyer

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Mon Feb 02, 2015 4:38 pm

Yeah, unfortunately there aren't 130 firms in Denver hiring IP associates.

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lhanvt13
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Re: Engineer-to-IP Lawyer

Postby lhanvt13 » Mon Feb 02, 2015 4:42 pm

A. Nony Mouse wrote:Yeah, unfortunately there aren't 130 firms in Denver hiring IP associates.

There's 130 firms in Denver?!

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A. Nony Mouse
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Re: Engineer-to-IP Lawyer

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Mon Feb 02, 2015 5:10 pm

lhanvt13 wrote:
A. Nony Mouse wrote:Yeah, unfortunately there aren't 130 firms in Denver hiring IP associates.

There's 130 firms in Denver?!

Depends how you define firm, I guess.

Tomasz
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Re: Engineer-to-IP Lawyer

Postby Tomasz » Mon Feb 02, 2015 6:24 pm

KuchKuch wrote:Tomasz, believe me I've done the calculations. I'm an engineer and freaking love spreadsheets. Lets take CU for example. For myself and husband the total debt for all living expenses and tuition walking out will be $381,364.33. Our monthly payments per month will be $4,633 meaning that to maintain the current standard of living, we must both have a starting salary around $110,000. The 10th percentile salary for a IP Attorney I in Denver is $109,202. With 1,949 law firms that specialize or work with IP cases, we have a pretty good chance of obtaining a position with that salary.


OK I can't speak knowledgeably about many of your other points, but the COA seems off.

The COA at WashU is ~73k. That's for 9 months. Granted, it will be lower because you will be living together I presume. But let's not forget that tuition goes up and you need to eat/live during the summer. Giving a CONSERVATIVE 65k/yr (that's only 10k per person for TWELVE MONTHS of living) with 3.5% per year increase comes to 480k at graduation. Your 381k seems low (did you account for health insurance, loan origination fees, 3 months during summer?)

You also assume you BOTH will get $110k jobs. In the same market. Competing against better schools. Competing against your peers. Not getting bad grades. I wasn't even aware Denver was a big market. If you went alone there's a good chance you'd be the only ChemE student there. With BOTH of you there you just cut your job options in the region down by a good amount. ChemE-IP seems like a pretty specialized area.

The 10th percentile pay of 110k is just absurd. It, at the least, cannot account for the people who simply couldn't get into IP. It probably doesn't account for a good portion who got booted out after getting into it.

timbs4339
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Re: Engineer-to-IP Lawyer

Postby timbs4339 » Mon Feb 02, 2015 6:34 pm

Tomasz wrote:
The 10th percentile pay of 110k is just absurd. It, at the least, cannot account for the people who simply couldn't get into IP. It probably doesn't account for a good portion who got booted out after getting into it.


Eh for a mid-career IP attorney or even one with a few years of experience it sounds reasonable, which is what that website purports to measure. Of course, there aren't many non-biglaw firms that have IP specialist attorneys, unless you're talking boutiques which usually pay close to or at the biglaw scale (and sometimes even over). I could see the PTO or a smaller company paying in the low six-figures for an experienced lawyer who wants a better work/life balance.

Tomasz
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Re: Engineer-to-IP Lawyer

Postby Tomasz » Mon Feb 02, 2015 7:19 pm

timbs4339 wrote:
Tomasz wrote:
The 10th percentile pay of 110k is just absurd. It, at the least, cannot account for the people who simply couldn't get into IP. It probably doesn't account for a good portion who got booted out after getting into it.


Eh for a mid-career IP attorney or even one with a few years of experience it sounds reasonable, which is what that website purports to measure. Of course, there aren't many non-biglaw firms that have IP specialist attorneys, unless you're talking boutiques which usually pay close to or at the biglaw scale (and sometimes even over). I could see the PTO or a smaller company paying in the low six-figures for an experienced lawyer who wants a better work/life balance.


Which is fine, except a good portion of law schools don't even produce a large majority of graduates who become attorneys, let alone ones who reach mid-career IP law.




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