Choosing a school for patent law with environmental focus

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Entomologist2Lawyer?

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Choosing a school for patent law with environmental focus

Postby Entomologist2Lawyer? » Sun Jan 20, 2019 4:04 am

Hi everyone,

Thanks for reading my post! Over the past seven years, I've been enjoying life as an entomologist. Unfortunately, I am developing allergies to several types of insects. Since these symptoms can get pretty severe, I am afraid I may need to change my career focus.

It happens to be the case that my university wants to patent some of my work. This process seems really interesting to me, so I am thinking about becoming a patent lawyer, with a focus on patenting environmentally friendly biotech. Does anyone have experience going through this process?

Is there any way to pursue a law degree without getting clobbered by debt? I'm wrapping up a fully funded PhD in Entomology right now, so debt is not an issue for the time being. Since I've been in grad school for the past 6 years, my cash reserves are rather low, and I imagine I would have to borrow quite a bit to get through school.

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Re: Choosing a school for patent law with environmental focus

Postby QContinuum » Sun Jan 20, 2019 1:31 pm

Absolutely there is a way. It all comes down to your undergraduate GPA and your LSAT score. With a high enough GPA and LSAT (generally above a school's 75th percentiles for both numbers), you can get a full-tuition scholarship.

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UVA2B

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Re: Choosing a school for patent law with environmental focus

Postby UVA2B » Sun Jan 20, 2019 1:40 pm

What QContinuum said is absolutely true, but I would hesitate to say your entire practice could focus on environmentally friendly biotech, since more than likely you're working at a firm as a patent attorney, and when you begin as an associate, you have little control over the types of work you take on, but more realistically you'll be tasked with drafting patent applications based on current clients and partner tasking. So while you might be in the biotech group at your firm (should you land at a firm, of course), you have relatively little control over what specific tasks/applications you take on in that group. And you might even be able to somewhat target your job search based on firms that do work for companies doing "environmentally-friendly biotech" work, depending on how you define that, but it's quite possible even those firms will represent an array of clients that do much more than that, so you might find yourself expanding your practice beyond what you most want to do. If you're cool with that, then great. But if you have a problem doing biotech work that doesn't fall within your definition of "environmentally-friendly," just realize that may be something you have to reckon with down the line. That shouldn't necessarily dissuade you from pursuing a career in law, but you should be ready to answer internally whether you're willing to do work outside of what you imagine your practice being.

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Re: Choosing a school for patent law with environmental focus

Postby QContinuum » Sun Jan 20, 2019 1:51 pm

UVA2B wrote:What QContinuum said is absolutely true, but I would hesitate to say your entire practice could focus on environmentally friendly biotech, since more than likely you're working at a firm as a patent attorney, and when you begin as an associate, you have little control over the types of work you take on, but more realistically you'll be tasked with drafting patent applications based on current clients and partner tasking. So while you might be in the biotech group at your firm (should you land at a firm, of course), you have relatively little control over what specific tasks/applications you take on in that group. And you might even be able to somewhat target your job search based on firms that do work for companies doing "environmentally-friendly biotech" work, depending on how you define that, but it's quite possible even those firms will represent an array of clients that do much more than that, so you might find yourself expanding your practice beyond what you most want to do. If you're cool with that, then great. But if you have a problem doing biotech work that doesn't fall within your definition of "environmentally-friendly," just realize that may be something you have to reckon with down the line. That shouldn't necessarily dissuade you from pursuing a career in law, but you should be ready to answer internally whether you're willing to do work outside of what you imagine your practice being.

UVA2B is completely correct to raise the above point, which is critical. As a patent prosecutor, you would - given your Ph.D. - focus on life sciences work, but you'll almost certainly be tasked to draft patent applications across the life sciences spectrum. This may well include applications directed to environmentally unfriendly inventions. If you think that would present a serious moral conflict, then patent prosecution may not be a good fit for you. (You can still pursue law, of course, but in that case maybe advocacy/nonprofit work would be more up your alley, though in that case you wouldn't be able to focus on patent law.)

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Re: Choosing a school for patent law with environmental focus

Postby Npret » Tue Jan 22, 2019 11:37 am

Be careful about looking at a school for a specific program. The most important aspect of law school s the employment prospects of the grads and that includes location. You need to look at schools that will help you get a job, not a school selling it’s environmental law program.

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UVA2B

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Re: Choosing a school for patent law with environmental focus

Postby UVA2B » Tue Jan 22, 2019 1:16 pm

Npret wrote:Be careful about looking at a school for a specific program. The most important aspect of law school s the employment prospects of the grads and that includes location. You need to look at schools that will help you get a job, not a school selling it’s environmental law program.


This isn’t really what they were asking, they want environmentally friendly biotech work in patent law. They never actually mentioned anything about environmental law.

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Re: Choosing a school for patent law with environmental focus

Postby Npret » Tue Jan 22, 2019 1:51 pm

UVA2B wrote:
Npret wrote:Be careful about looking at a school for a specific program. The most important aspect of law school s the employment prospects of the grads and that includes location. You need to look at schools that will help you get a job, not a school selling it’s environmental law program.


This isn’t really what they were asking, they want environmentally friendly biotech work in patent law. They never actually mentioned anything about environmental law.

The title of the thread says “Choosing a school for patent law with environmental focus”
OP is asking about a school choice is what I gathered from that title.

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Re: Choosing a school for patent law with environmental focus

Postby albanach » Tue Jan 22, 2019 2:08 pm

Npret wrote:
UVA2B wrote:
Npret wrote:Be careful about looking at a school for a specific program. The most important aspect of law school s the employment prospects of the grads and that includes location. You need to look at schools that will help you get a job, not a school selling it’s environmental law program.


This isn’t really what they were asking, they want environmentally friendly biotech work in patent law. They never actually mentioned anything about environmental law.

The title of the thread says “Choosing a school for patent law with environmental focus”
OP is asking about a school choice is what I gathered from that title.


Yeah, I could easily see someone touring a school and talking about environmentally-friendly patent law and being pointed in the direction of the environmental law program by an overenthusiastic admissions person. Generally, OP should focus on overall outcomes rather than a school's "specialty". Or, the exact opposite of this advice from Kaplan:

Kaplan wrote:SPECIALIZATIONS
Along with location, you should also pay attention to a school’s specializations. Sometimes a school is ranked in a lower tier but has an excellent program in a specific area. For example, one fourth-tier school is well-known among intellectual property attorneys for its outstanding patent law program. If you’re dead set on practicing in a specific field, considering a school’s niches can help a less highly-regarded program to acquire a new desirability.


Unless that admissions officer can put you in touch with multiple recent grads who successfully made it into your desired field at a respected law firm, stay well clear.

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Re: Choosing a school for patent law with environmental focus

Postby UVA2B » Tue Jan 22, 2019 2:13 pm

That’s fine and of course it’s true they should ignore specialty rankings, so I guess you were just giving the unsolicited advice, but nothing in the OP mentions environmental focus with the context of choosing a school based on that. So while the title may suggest someone was asking the school specialty rankings question, nothing in their actual post even hints at that. They were connecting their previous work experience to the specific area of patent law they hoped to go into aspirationally, which they were also warned about, but it had nothing to do with environmental law.

Entomologist2Lawyer?

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Re: Choosing a school for patent law with environmental focus

Postby Entomologist2Lawyer? » Fri Jan 25, 2019 9:52 pm

Hi everyone,

Thank you all for your feedback! You have given me quite a bit to think about. I shared the goal of studying patent law to protect environmentally friendly inventions because I am a bit intimidated by the legal field, and I thought that if I can stay in a niche field that matches my background, I might have an easier time.



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