IP Law - Part-time vs. Full-time Law School

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collegebum1989
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IP Law - Part-time vs. Full-time Law School

Postby collegebum1989 » Thu Oct 11, 2012 8:45 pm

One of my friends, who's now a patent litigator in D.C., suggested looking into part-time J.D. programs (GULC, GW) in D.C. instead of full-time programs.

I am interested in IP and am patent-bar eligible (BS/MS engineering) and considering the part-time J.D. programs at these two schools while working either as a patent agent or technology specialist position in a firm.

Can anyone on TLS comment on the benefits of this vs. a full-time program. I'm aware that the part-time program will lead me to generate less debt since I will be working full-time while in law school (and consequently gaining experience). However, how does recruitment from a part-time program compare to that of a full-time program?

Also, what are some disadvantages to attending a part-time J.D. program (besides the added stress of coursework and job)? From comparing the two options, the part-time program seems like a better option (financially, employment/experience-wise). I also believe that part-time programs are less competitive than full-time programs. Does this mean that firms will give your J.D. less value if you decide to apply after graduation?

Thanks!

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soccerfreak
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Re: IP Law - Part-time vs. Full-time Law School

Postby soccerfreak » Thu Oct 11, 2012 9:42 pm

Sorry, I'm not doing the part time program so no inside advice on that. I would generally think doing the full-time thing is better. However, I interviewed at a couple of firms with "law clerk" programs, where you start working as a patent agent/tech adviser, get a JD and then just continue working for the firm. At at least one of the firms, the firm actually paid for the entire JD, while PAYING A SALARY TO THE STUDENT. Didn't know this was out there, and it sounded awesome. They said they only do this for advanced degrees (possibly only PhD's, not sure). If you can find a gig like that, do it.

AC Vegas
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Re: IP Law - Part-time vs. Full-time Law School

Postby AC Vegas » Thu Oct 11, 2012 9:55 pm

IP part-time students in DC are killing it these days. You can be an examiner or try to get a firm job (there are more of these than you would think). It is a great option.

JD won't have less value.

Only disadvantage I can see is you try to bail on IP, then the competition from full time students goes way up.

eng2law
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Re: IP Law - Part-time vs. Full-time Law School

Postby eng2law » Thu Oct 11, 2012 9:56 pm

There are pluses and minuses to both. Part time is a great option from money and experience points-of-view. It's the best approach if you want to end up in patent prosecution.

That said, the mainstream legal world is mostly tailored for full-time students (timing of internships/ offers etc.) To keep options open and to get involved in non-academic parts of law school, full-time is the way to go. You're not going to have much time left to do anything if you do full time work + PT school. Remember that anything you want to get on your resume under your law school experience will suffer if you are in a PT program.

Besides, being in PT sort of limits your option to transfer to a better school after 1L (though that option is by no means closed).

The JD is the same.

collegebum1989
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Re: IP Law - Part-time vs. Full-time Law School

Postby collegebum1989 » Thu Oct 11, 2012 10:09 pm

From what I understand, the ranking system is different for part-time vs. full-time JD programs. Would this mean that a school's part-time accepted students' numbers do not affect rankings for the full-time program?

If this was the case, then it would explain why PT programs have a higher tolerance for numbers than FT programs do (besides the fact that FT compares all schools vs. particular PT programs). GULC and GW allow PT students to transfer into FT program after their first year. My goal is D.C. biglaw after law school, so I'm interested whether a PT program would lead to reduced choices compared to graduating a FT program.

I also have an advanced degree (MS in engineering field) so prosecution has definitely been an interest of mine. However, I also would like the option of pursuing litigation after law school. Interested only in IP, can't really see myself practicing any other type of law.

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soccerfreak
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Re: IP Law - Part-time vs. Full-time Law School

Postby soccerfreak » Thu Oct 11, 2012 10:09 pm

The only addition I have really just echoes eng2law. You'll miss out on big parts of law school if you don't attend full-time, like making connections with classmates, getting involved with clubs, moot court, better exposure to other parts of law, etc. These may or may not be important to you. Also, possibly the option of doing IP lit (again, might not be an interest to you).

Also, one of the best benefits to me of doing part-time while working as a patent agent is the fact it'll be a lot easier to get a job, and from what I understand being a former patent agent is definitely a good thing. However, especially with advanced science degrees, IP really is an entirely different job market. People median or below at not-so-great schools are getting market-paying jobs right now. If you have the ability to get into a GW or Georgetown, odds are you'll be fine.

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cahwc12
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Re: IP Law - Part-time vs. Full-time Law School

Postby cahwc12 » Thu Oct 11, 2012 10:22 pm

What are the primary considerations when deciding between PT and FT?

collegebum1989
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Re: IP Law - Part-time vs. Full-time Law School

Postby collegebum1989 » Thu Oct 11, 2012 10:51 pm

financial, I'd say.

Most PT students are either older applicants who want to continue working or people already working for a firm and being externally supported to go to law school. In these cases, the applicant has a clear goal of what type of law he/she wants to practice.

Most FT students are either K-JDs or students who are interested in a legal career but not sure which field of law they want to pursue. This is where the traditional law school experience is an advantage since you are immersed in a more general law school student body.

I would also imagine that more scholarship packages are offered to FT students since PT students are working concurrently to support their education.

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nygrrrl
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Re: IP Law - Part-time vs. Full-time Law School

Postby nygrrrl » Fri Oct 12, 2012 10:37 am

I am currently a PT student and for me, it has been a terrific decision.
Continuing to work during school has been rough, but has kept my debt to a bare minimum.
That said, I have a very flexible day job, so I've been able to participate on competition teams/etc: really don't feel I've missed out on any law school experiences, socializing with classmates, etc.
The internship thing is tough, as someone pointed out: at a certain point - depending on where you're working, how flexible they will be, where you plan to end up - you may have to make a choice about work (i.e., to do a SA, I will have to basically take a 2 month vacation from my "day job.")
As for the degree, as long as you are working while in the PT program I think it only garners respect: I had several interviewers during OCI comment on how impressed they were with the candidates who managed to juggle it all.
PT + Work is no joke, but if you're good at managing your time and have a relatively flexible employer, it can be really great.
Any questions, feel free to PM me.

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cahwc12
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Re: IP Law - Part-time vs. Full-time Law School

Postby cahwc12 » Fri Oct 12, 2012 11:09 am

Could you elaborate more on your situation?

What field of law are you aiming to go in?

How did you get this job?

What sacrifices, if any, have you had to make as compared with full-time enrollment?

Is your case true for most, or an outlier?

Do most employers share this perception that part-time is just as good, and sometimes more impressive than, full-time enrollment at that same school?

Black-Blue
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Re: IP Law - Part-time vs. Full-time Law School

Postby Black-Blue » Sat Oct 13, 2012 5:36 pm

If you want to do patent law (especially prosecution), I'd say that part time is recommended, since being a patent agent during law school gives you a huge edge financially ($30-65+/hr jobs) and a head start in terms of experience. The main downside is that the workload will be high. You miss out on the traditional law school experience, but then again, patent law is not traditional anyways (in terms of the students, the hiring patterns, and the practice of law).

You can still do journals, etc. as a part time student at most schools.

IP prosecution boutiques do not always follow the biglaw SA hiring model, so if you want to do prosecution, you can work through all the semesters even if you plan on switching firms after graduation.

For biglaw patent litigation, you can work as a patent agent (presumably doing mostly prosecution) up to the last summer before gradation, and then do the SA at the biglaw firm. For evening students, your 3rd year (instead of 2nd year) summer will be the one that gets you your post-grad biglaw job. While patent litigation used to be filled with liberal arts majors, nowadays, patent litigators are more and more technical, which means that having a prosecution background will help your transition to litigation. Therefore, the SA would make an excellent transition point from prosecution to litigation, since you have the valuable background but are not yet considered too ingrained in prosecution.

Then again, you're in for a lot of work by going to law school PT and working FT. Consider, however, that times have changed, and it's not like 20 years ago where law school only cost a fraction of today's cost while demand patent law jobs was extremely abundant compared to the supply.




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