GW or BU for patent law

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illinoisengineer
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GW or BU for patent law

Postby illinoisengineer » Fri Feb 06, 2015 10:46 pm

So I studied Materials Science and Engineering with a concentration in electronic materials as an undergrad and am now going for patent law. I finally have my options narrowed down to George Washington or Boston University. I'm not really cemented on where I want to work after law school, but could see myself in Chicago, Boston, or maybe DC or Silicon Valley.

I've heard good things about both schools and there's aspects of both schools I like. Just based on pure academic offerings I'm leaning towards GW (ranked higher, strong externship program, clinic I want to participate in, more IP classes), but when considering the aspect of money it makes the decision very tough.

BU is offering me a $90K merit scholarship, and GW is offering $60K. However, when you factor in the increased tuition and cost of living at GW, the gap increases to about $60K. I'm going to visit both next week and will try to negotiate to see if either will increase their offer to make it an easier decision.

My main concern is getting a job after graduation. So in that regard, is going to GW really worth the extra 60K if I would enjoy going to BU also? What do you guys think?

Thanks

TheNextAmendment
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Re: GW or BU for patent law

Postby TheNextAmendment » Fri Feb 06, 2015 11:04 pm

avoid GW at all costs.

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antiworldly
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Re: GW or BU for patent law

Postby antiworldly » Sat Feb 07, 2015 8:18 am

TheNextAmendment wrote:avoid GW at all costs.


Would you be able to elaborate?

illinoiseengineer, I'm also going for patent law and applying this cycle. The advice I've gotten from every patent attorney I've talked to, both in litigation and preparation, is that you should go to the best law school, not the one that bills itself as having the best patent program. While you visit, see what program has the best 'fit' for you, talk to upper level students, look at their summer job placement programs, etc., just like you were any other law student. GW has slightly better job placement numbers, but they're a bigger program and more expensive for you, so there are upsides and downsides either way. In a month or so, don't be afraid to negotiate with financial aid. It's early in the cycle but as seat deposit deadlines inch closer the admissions office will probably be more willing to move on the numbers. Good luck!

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romothesavior
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Re: GW or BU for patent law

Postby romothesavior » Sat Feb 07, 2015 8:51 am

Why not UIUC? Probably would be a lot cheaper and would give you better access to the Chicago market.

Between GW and BU, I would go wherever is cheaper.

illinoisengineer
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Re: GW or BU for patent law

Postby illinoisengineer » Sat Feb 07, 2015 10:02 am

Thanks for the replies so far.

TheNextAmendment, yes could you please elaborate

Antiworldly, thats the same advice I've gotten which is why I'm not sure what to do. GW is the better ranked law school, but is that better ranking going to give me $60k's worth of better job prospects. I would prefer to spend less at BU, but not at the risk of not getting a job. And for negotiating, you were thinking of doing that a little later on the cycle? I was going to try to negotiate next week when I visit, but I could always wait and send an email.

Romothesavior, UIUC is where I just went to undergrad so Im sick of the area and want to be in a city if Im going to school for 3 more years. Also, BU and GW are a good chunk above in the rankings so I think they would translate outside of illinois better just in case.

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transferror
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Re: GW or BU for patent law

Postby transferror » Sat Feb 07, 2015 10:47 am

romothesavior wrote:Between GW and BU, I would go wherever is cheaper.


Agreed

illinoisengineer wrote:Also, BU and GW are a good chunk above in the rankings so I think they would translate outside of illinois better just in case.


Not really. GW and BU both reach into NYC biglaw, but they are still regional schools. Focus more on employment data instead of rankings, and then you'll see why UIUC should be in the mix - their firm + fed clerk placement is comparable to the schools ranked in the 15-25 range.

InTheHouse
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Re: GW or BU for patent law

Postby InTheHouse » Sat Feb 07, 2015 11:17 am

When you say you want to go into patent law, what is it that you want to do?

BigZuck
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Re: GW or BU for patent law

Postby BigZuck » Sat Feb 07, 2015 11:18 am

These are all too expensive, I wouldn't attend either at their current cost

Being an engineer is preferable to rolling the dice on one of these schools at these costs IMO

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romothesavior
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Re: GW or BU for patent law

Postby romothesavior » Sat Feb 07, 2015 11:23 am

You need to forget the rankings and focus on job prospects and debt. The rankings are essentially worthless.

InTheHouse
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Re: GW or BU for patent law

Postby InTheHouse » Sat Feb 07, 2015 11:32 am

BigZuck wrote:These are all too expensive, I wouldn't attend either at their current cost

Being an engineer is preferable to rolling the dice on one of these schools at these costs IMO


Attorneys with an engineering background don't grow on trees, you know. The answer probably depends on what OP is gunning for. If its Lit, then neither of these schools is really worth the risk. But for prosecution, they're fine. I'd probably dip even lower in the rankings in exchange for scholarship money.

For the life of me I don''t understand why people with engineering backgrounds don't just work as patent agents for a couple of years before law schools. You can make six figures, as well as get a feel for law firm life and a sense of whether you'd prefer litigation or prosecution. Plus, you can make some decent change work part-time as a patent agent during the last year or two of law school. Being able to reduce your debt load by 30k-50k before you graduate ain't nothing.

mickey_mouse
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Re: GW or BU for patent law

Postby mickey_mouse » Sat Feb 07, 2015 11:41 am


For the life of me I don''t understand why people with engineering backgrounds don't just work as patent agents for a couple of years before law schools. You can make six figures, as well as get a feel for law firm life and a sense of whether you'd prefer litigation or prosecution. Plus, you can make some decent change work part-time as a patent agent during the last year or two of law school. Being able to reduce your debt load by 30k-50k before you graduate ain't nothing.



This. If I had an engineering background, I'd do this. I feel like a UIUC engineering degree is too valuable to waste it going straight to law school. Try the labor market, it really can change your perspective. fwiw, I've got similar scholly offers from both schools on the table now as well, don't have a patent background though, and have no idea what to do. Are you not in at any T14? You've gotta be borderline, and if not, within a few LSAT points of having your pick.

(insert retake advice here)

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antiworldly
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Re: GW or BU for patent law

Postby antiworldly » Sat Feb 07, 2015 11:53 am

illinoisengineer wrote:Antiworldly, thats the same advice I've gotten which is why I'm not sure what to do. GW is the better ranked law school, but is that better ranking going to give me $60k's worth of better job prospects. I would prefer to spend less at BU, but not at the risk of not getting a job. And for negotiating, you were thinking of doing that a little later on the cycle? I was going to try to negotiate next week when I visit, but I could always wait and send an email.


The rankings have a decent sized error bar, which is why I was emphasizing fit. I agree with others in this forum with the commentary about focusing on employment data and debt instead of a few points up in the US news rankings. I'd start discussing aid in person when you visit, but keep in mind that your leverage will grow as they get closer to deposit deadlines when they're trying to make sure the class is filled, so don't be afraid to take it slow.

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runinthefront
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Re: GW or BU for patent law

Postby runinthefront » Sat Feb 07, 2015 12:34 pm

OP, how will you be financing your education? Through family? Through loans?

What is the total cost of each school: at the end of three years, including interest. You can find this by using http://www.law.georgetown.edu/admission ... geid=61621 or going to LSTscorereports.com

May I ask your GPA/LSAT? If your parents are okay with debt-financing your entire legal education, then that's awesome. But I would never, ever go to either of those schools with that amount of $ money.

You said you went to school in Illinois--is that your home state?

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runinthefront
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Re: GW or BU for patent law

Postby runinthefront » Sat Feb 07, 2015 12:35 pm

"In order to receive the best feedback in this forum, please provide as much of the following information in your original post as possible:

-The schools you are considering
-The total Cost of Attendance (COA) of each. COA = cost of tuition + fees + books + cost of living (COL) + accumulated interest - scholarships. Here is a helpful calculator.
-How you will be financing your COA, i.e. loans, family, or savings
-Where you are from and where you want to work, and other places where you have significant ties (if any)
-Your general career goals
-Your LSAT/GPA numbers
-How many times you have taken the LSAT"

dudders
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Re: GW or BU for patent law

Postby dudders » Sat Feb 07, 2015 12:44 pm

GW Externship program was pretty terrible when I went there ... pain in the ass + waste of time busy work. Plus you can't get paid in the program ... And, if you're patent-oriented, you should be looking at jobs that pay you every summer/semester anyway.

TheNextAmendment
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Re: GW or BU for patent law

Postby TheNextAmendment » Sat Feb 07, 2015 3:30 pm

*deleted
Last edited by TheNextAmendment on Sun Feb 08, 2015 1:50 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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antiworldly
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Re: GW or BU for patent law

Postby antiworldly » Sat Feb 07, 2015 4:10 pm

Thanks, TheNextAmendment, that's very helpful analysis. I'd love to hear first hand from flawschoolkid, I haven't heard much about GW so getting more of a view from the inside would be awesome.

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mi-chan17
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Re: GW or BU for patent law

Postby mi-chan17 » Sat Feb 07, 2015 5:49 pm

I tend to have one of the better views of GW on this site, but even I don't recommend going there at the price it looks like you would be paying. Furthermore, I don't think there'd be any real difference in your case between BU and GW (though patent peeps can correct me if I'm wrong), so I'd go wherever was cheaper and to neither if they weren't giving me six figures of merit aid.

mickey_mouse
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Re: GW or BU for patent law

Postby mickey_mouse » Sat Feb 07, 2015 6:32 pm

http://www.top-law-schools.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=4&t=217605

This was a pretty helpful GW thread (shout out mi-chan) with positive and negative views of the school.

illinoisengineer
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Re: GW or BU for patent law

Postby illinoisengineer » Sat Feb 07, 2015 9:02 pm

Awesome feedback everyone, this really helps a lot. Sorry about the lack of information I guess, thought I put in the essentials.

- 165/3.66, took the LSAT twice, was practice testing at 167-170 the second time and somehow got a 165 again, needless to say I wasn't happy since I thought I was going to stand a chance at a T14, and then nope
- Rejected by Berkeley, Northwestern, Texas and waitlisted by UCLA
- Accepted at BU (90k merit aid) and GW (60k), didn't apply anywhere else
- Total COA at BU = $105,990 and at GW = $174,120 (based on their acceptance packages)
- I'm going to take out a loan or two for credit history purposes, but my parents are willing to debt finance, so I didn't include interest for the COA I will have to pay them back.
- From a suburb of Chicago, not totally tied down to where I want to work, applied to places where I thought I would enjoy living.
- I want to start out in patent prosecution for a few years at a mid or large firm and then go from there

InTheHouse wrote:For the life of me I don''t understand why people with engineering backgrounds don't just work as patent agents for a couple of years before law schools. You can make six figures, as well as get a feel for law firm life and a sense of whether you'd prefer litigation or prosecution. Plus, you can make some decent change work part-time as a patent agent during the last year or two of law school. Being able to reduce your debt load by 30k-50k before you graduate ain't nothing.

mickey_mouse wrote:This. If I had an engineering background, I'd do this. I feel like a UIUC engineering degree is too valuable to waste it going straight to law school. Try the labor market, it really can change your perspective.


I see both of your points, and I did think about working as an engineer first but I just didn't like the idea of going back to school after working for a few years, I wanted to go right away. I worked about 11 months during a co-op at an aerospace company in their materials science and engineering department and really just felt like I didn't want to be an engineer, analyzing different inventions and writing about them sounded better. I'm also currently studying for the patent bar exam right now and hope to pass it in May so hopefully I could work part time as an agent during law school and make some money.

antiworldly wrote:The rankings have a decent sized error bar, which is why I was emphasizing fit. I agree with others in this forum with the commentary about focusing on employment data and debt instead of a few points up in the US news rankings.


Seems like everyone here thinks the rankings difference doesn't matter so that answers my main concern between the two. Most of what I read and heard said that the ranking of the school you went to mattered a lot in getting a job in the legal field, more than any other profession. So that's why I was concerned with going to BU for less money. I'll keep asking around with the patent attorneys I know, and see if I can get either school to offer me more money.

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runinthefront
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Re: GW or BU for patent law

Postby runinthefront » Sat Feb 07, 2015 9:18 pm

- 165/3.66, took the LSAT twice, was practice testing at 167-170 the second time and somehow got a 165 again, needless to say I wasn't happy since I thought I was going to stand a chance at a T14, and then nope


I definitely know how that feels, man. I know this sounds undesirable (and you probably have family/friends who are under the impression that you'll be attending law school this year), but I would highly encourage a retake. Even 2 more correctly answered questions will probably open the door to a T14 acceptance or two--or tens of thousands of more dollars at the schools you're already admitted into.

- I'm going to take out a loan or two for credit history purposes, but my parents are willing to debt finance, so I didn't include interest for the COA I will have to pay them back.


By debt-financing, does that mean your parents will be paying straight out of their bank account, or are they going to be financing through loans of their own? If you're talking about them taking money out of their retirement accounts, then I would caution you attending either school. You're definitely a more attractive candidate as someone with an engineering background, but striking out in terms of employment that pays well enough to service debt to your parents is still a non-negligible possibility coming out of both schools. Once again, a retake could fix this...

...but if your parents are just using discretionary income (aka skimping out on a few vacations), then I don't know. I do know that I would never, ever, ever, ever, ever, go $175,000 into debt at GWU.

- From a suburb of Chicago, not totally tied down to where I want to work, applied to places where I thought I would enjoy living.


With 1-2 years of working as a patent agent (or pretty much anything), and four more questions right on the LSAT, you're probably close to a lock for NU (and would definitely net $-$$ at a T14 or $$$ at the schools you're considering--plus, your parents wouldnt have to skip vacations/take out loans).

I'm also currently studying for the patent bar exam right now and hope to pass it in May so hopefully I could work part time as an agent during law school and make some money


Whatever you end up deciding, just make sure you don't do this 1L year. Focus on your grades.

InTheHouse
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Re: GW or BU for patent law

Postby InTheHouse » Sat Feb 07, 2015 10:14 pm

illinoisengineer wrote:
InTheHouse wrote:For the life of me I don''t understand why people with engineering backgrounds don't just work as patent agents for a couple of years before law schools. You can make six figures, as well as get a feel for law firm life and a sense of whether you'd prefer litigation or prosecution. Plus, you can make some decent change work part-time as a patent agent during the last year or two of law school. Being able to reduce your debt load by 30k-50k before you graduate ain't nothing.


mickey_mouse wrote:This. If I had an engineering background, I'd do this. I feel like a UIUC engineering degree is too valuable to waste it going straight to law school. Try the labor market, it really can change your perspective.


I see both of your points, and I did think about working as an engineer first but I just didn't like the idea of going back to school after working for a few years, I wanted to go right away. I worked about 11 months during a co-op at an aerospace company in their materials science and engineering department and really just felt like I didn't want to be an engineer, analyzing different inventions and writing about them sounded better. I'm also currently studying for the patent bar exam right now and hope to pass it in May so hopefully I could work part time as an agent during law school and make some money.



What are you talking about? No one suggested working in industry (even though that's a great idea). We suggested working as a technology specialist/patent agent at a LAW FIRM. BEFORE law school. You don't have to pass the bar to get hired by a law firm (although it helps). I'd assume firms would start you at $70k-90k. At least that where my offers were 7-8 years ago.

illinoisengineer wrote:I just didn't like the idea of going back to school after working for a few years, I wanted to go right away. I worked about 11 months during a co-op at an aerospace company in their materials science and engineering department and really just felt like I didn't want to be an engineer, analyzing different inventions and writing about them sounded better.


Drafting patent applications isn't as sexy as it sounds. 70-80% of the "inventions" you'll be working with are minor improvements on existing (usually boring) technology. I've worked as an engineer. I've worked as a patent agent. Actually, I've worked as an examiner too. Being a patent agent/prosecution attorney is the most boring job of all. However, the hours aren't shabby and the money is great. Unlike a lot of other people making the leap to law school, you have a opportunity to try out your future career before blowing through $300,000 of your (or your parents') money. I wouldn't be surprised if you found acting as a glorified translator between inventors and the U.S. Patent Office to be too boring a job to make a career out of.

lawschoolftw
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Re: GW or BU for patent law

Postby lawschoolftw » Sat Feb 07, 2015 10:23 pm

TheNextAmendment wrote:
antiworldly wrote:
TheNextAmendment wrote:avoid GW at all costs.

Would you be able to elaborate?


Sure. GW is the quintessential trap law school. It only has a high ranking on the USNews website because the school has figured out how to game the system by focusing on median scores (that is why the 25th percentile lsat score for 1Ls is a 159...they know that the median is all that matters). Here are some facts about the school to help you understand how things really work at GW Law:

(1) GW Law's current ranking is based on employment numbers from their 2014 graduating class- a graduating class of 603 students. Of those 603 students, only 28% got jobs with big law firms. Additionally, although it has an employment score of 77.4%, 15% are employed by the school itself in which the school pays the students $15/hour for 9 months (enough time to report the students are "full-time employed" to US News) to work in any kind of job, including retail, food service, etc. Therefore, only 62% of 603 graduating students got employed in real, full-time legal positions.

(2) Despite the record drop in law school applications and the school's inability to find full-time positions for all of its students, it continues to increase its class size. This year, GW Law admitted 539 students and took in 93 transfer students. You will likely be part of a class of 632 or more students if you decide to enroll. Legal hiring, especially in DC which is GW's main market, is stagnant and not expected to get much better in the next few years, leading to worse employment outcomes for its students.

(3) GW Law is getting less selective. Last year, GW Law accepted over 40% of its applicants. The median gpa of its transfer class is a 3.35. Because GW took more than 50% of its transfers from American and at American a 3.35 is roughly median, the average transfer student at GW Law was an average student at a Tier 2 law school... That means that GW Law is accepting kids who did average at a school that is ranked 50 spots lower? The school has absolutely no morals and is accepting anybody it can in order to fill its employees' pockets.

(4) More examples demonstrating that GW Law only cares about how much money it makes: (a) 1Ls take 5 classes each semester. At most schools 1Ls only have 4 subjects, but GW Law is able to hire more professors by forcing its students to take 5 subjects each semester; (b) 1Ls don't get their grades back until early to mid February, conveniently 1 week past the refund deadline for Spring Semester. 1L Spring drop-outs are the only sunk costs that a law school can't compensate for, and yet GW Law protects this interest by ensuring that kids with bad grades can't save themselves a semester's worth of money if they realize that law school is not for them.

(5) The cost is outrageous for what you get. The faculty is just okay, the facility is old, the events are sub-par, and the administration is absolutely horrendous. OCS counselors are actually quite hard-working and are the school's one saving grace, but even they know how outrageous the school is with accepting far too many students than it can place into jobs.

Most people on this forum that bash GW Law are actually past, or present, GW law students. If you want to speak to one personally, PM flawschoolkid. That kid does God's work on these forums by exposing GW for what it really is...an embarrassment to both academic and legal integrity. *edit*- I just PMed him myself. Hopefully he will show up and give his opinion. I'll get the popcorn.

Conclusion: Would you make a $300,000 bet for a 28% chance of getting a high paying job and a 60% chance of even being employed in a legal field, nonetheless at a law school that is becoming less selective and is increasing its class size? Maybe you should hold out for something better. (IMO- specialty rankings don't impact this analysis at all. Sure, GW places more IP kids into jobs, but I believe that is more an indication of self-selection).

Sources:
http://www.lstscorereports.com/schools/gw/2013/
http://www.abarequireddisclosures.org/

Fun Reading:
http://www.gwhatchet.com/2014/03/03/law ... selective/
http://abovethelaw.com/2013/02/more-gra ... aw-school/
http://abovethelaw.com/2012/06/law-scho ... ind-a-job/


As an admitted GW alum who is happy with my career outcome, I have a sincere question about this. Is an almost 30 percent big law placement poor for a school outside the T14?

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runinthefront
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Re: GW or BU for patent law

Postby runinthefront » Sat Feb 07, 2015 10:27 pm

For $298,000 before scholarships, or even $175,000 with scholarships/COL factored in--yeah 30% big law placement is pretty poor.

The question is not whether the placement is pretty poor "for being outside of the T14," the question is whether anyone should be paying six figures for law school with biglaw ambitions outside of the T14

lawschoolftw
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Re: GW or BU for patent law

Postby lawschoolftw » Sat Feb 07, 2015 10:31 pm

runinthefront wrote:For $298,000 before scholarships, or even $175,000 with scholarships/COL factored in--yeah 30% big law placement is pretty poor.

The question is not whether the placement is pretty poor "for being outside of the T14," the question is whether anyone should be paying six figures for law school with biglaw ambitions outside of the T14


Well, true. But that's true of all law school investments. Having been out of the law school game for years, I honestly don't know if 30 percent big law placement is poor compres to the BUs BCs and other schools on par with GW.




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