Outlook for EE/patent law?

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turbotong
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Outlook for EE/patent law?

Postby turbotong » Sat Feb 05, 2011 4:52 pm

Hey everyone,
I was wondering if anybody from 0L's to partners could comment on the job outlook for those with an EE degree going into patent law.
From scouring the forums, all I've gotten so far is that the job market sucks, but EE/bio/chem patent law is doing slightly better than the rest. My question is how much better? Is it actually easy to find a job, or bad but not horrible like everything else? Do you guys know of anyone who has gone through this route in the past route recently and can share how they did? Can you get a summer job after the 1L year?
Me: 165 LSAT, going to either UT (offered) or Berkeley (waiting), undergrad BS.EE 3.99 out of a respectable engineering school. 1 year of misc part time engineering internships and 1 year of full time engineering job exp.

hurldes
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Re: Outlook for EE/patent law?

Postby hurldes » Sat Feb 05, 2011 5:14 pm

holy cow that is a killer gpa! nice job dude. I'm in the same situation as you except with a much lower gpa. I'm considering GW, GM, or IUB (big scholarship there). Here is what I've gathered from talking to lots of current patent attorneys:

If you go to a good school like UT or especially Berkeley and do well, you'll get several offers from patent law firms. Apparently EE is by far the most desired undergrad for law students. Both alumni and law students from GW have told me that everyone with EE undergrads, above median law school grades, and some sense of social competency have receive multiple good offers. Berkeley can only be better. The professors I've talked to said that they frequently get calls from law firms asking for the EEs with patent aspirations. If anyone knows any different, please tell me...I have no firsthand experience with this. But from what I've learned, you couldn't have set yourself up any better. (I could have... by not getting a 3.0 UG).

Also, I've heard it helps to have some experience with patent prosecution. If we can get our patent bar asap and draft some patents before/while in law school it should help our job prospects tremendously. Or so I've heard...

turbotong
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Re: Outlook for EE/patent law?

Postby turbotong » Sat Feb 05, 2011 5:18 pm

Hmm thanks. Well I'm gona try to pass the uspto exam before school starts. Hopefully that will count for something. And my real GPA isn't actually 3.99, thats what LSAC inflated it to be. It is above 3.7 though.

Anybody have opinions on the summer job prospects of each year?

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Bosque
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Re: Outlook for EE/patent law?

Postby Bosque » Sat Feb 05, 2011 6:53 pm

I don't have the time or energy to respond in full right now, but I am you. Only I am already a 2L. (Ok, so I had a few points higher LSAT and a slightly lower GPA. I am still likely the closest analogue you are going to get.)

I am going to repeat something I wrote in another thread:
While IP guys like you and me might have an easier time finding a job relative to everyone else, the job market is still shit. You are still gonna half to work your little ass off running around to everyone and their mother applying for jobs. Don't think for a second that the job is just going to fall into your lap, it aint.


That said, you are still in a much better position than most everyone else. But you still need to put in just as much effort. The difference is, if you work your ass off, you are going to end up with a huge stack of rejections, and maybe two or three acceptances at places you are happy with. For everyone else, if they work their asses off they are going to end up with a huge stack of rejections and maybe 1 or 2 acceptances at places they will live with. (All this assumes slightly below median to about 25%.) So don't get discouraged when the rejections roll in, but don't slack off either.

Final note: 1L summer seems to be about the same for us as everyone else. It doesn't really matter so long as you get a job that will generate a legal writing sample, and almost no one gets a firm job. If you really want to get paid, I suggest you do what I did and apply at firms back home. This works best if home is a small legal market with few or no law schools, and not California.

If you want more of my individual story, PM me and I will try and respond later on tonight/tomorrow.

thwalls
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Re: Outlook for EE/patent law?

Postby thwalls » Sat Feb 05, 2011 7:11 pm

I'm not an EE, but I work with a lot of EE/JDs. I took a little different route but it seems to be worth it. I decided after grad school to pass the patent bar and get a job as an agent, thereafter going to school PT (Yay for being a 1LE).

The jobs are definitely out there if you want to do prosecution and have a decent personality.

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Big Shrimpin
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Re: Outlook for EE/patent law?

Postby Big Shrimpin » Sat Feb 05, 2011 8:35 pm

Bosque's post is TCR.

Don't become complacent because having a great UG engineering GPA by no means gaurantees anything. Take the patent bar though. If anything it's a great resume line item. I think it really helped me in 2L OCI, even though I'm not really into prosecution.

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Bosque
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Re: Outlook for EE/patent law?

Postby Bosque » Sat Feb 05, 2011 9:17 pm

Big Shrimpin wrote:Take the patent bar.


FACT. If I could change one thing about my approach to this whole process, it would be to either take the patent bar before law school or study for/take it during 1L summer. If nothing else, it helps you sound like you know what you are talking about when interviewing for jobs at the beginning of 2L year.

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Big Shrimpin
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Re: Outlook for EE/patent law?

Postby Big Shrimpin » Sat Feb 05, 2011 11:16 pm

Bosque wrote:
Big Shrimpin wrote:Take the patent bar.


FACT. If I could change one thing about my approach to this whole process, it would be to either take the patent bar before law school or study for/take it during 1L summer. If nothing else, it helps you sound like you know what you are talking about when interviewing for jobs at the beginning of 2L year.


Plus, it's ridiculously easy if you've got a photographic (sort of) memory. Like, 40% of the questions are recycled from old exams. You need like a 70% to pass (I could be totally wrong on that figure, as I forget at the moment). LOL.

thwalls
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Re: Outlook for EE/patent law?

Postby thwalls » Sun Feb 06, 2011 1:14 am

Big Shrimpin wrote:
Bosque wrote:
Big Shrimpin wrote:Take the patent bar.


FACT. If I could change one thing about my approach to this whole process, it would be to either take the patent bar before law school or study for/take it during 1L summer. If nothing else, it helps you sound like you know what you are talking about when interviewing for jobs at the beginning of 2L year.


Plus, it's ridiculously easy if you've got a photographic (sort of) memory. Like, 40% of the questions are recycled from old exams. You need like a 70% to pass (I could be totally wrong on that figure, as I forget at the moment). LOL.


You're absolutely right. between 30 and 40% repeats from the 2002-2003 exams. Although they have more MPEP 1800 questions on the exam now then they used to, which makes sense considering that the majority of my clients want PCT applications rather than straight up non-provisional filings.

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Julio_El_Chavo
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Re: Outlook for EE/patent law?

Postby Julio_El_Chavo » Sun Feb 06, 2011 1:47 am

http://www.intelproplaw.com/ip_forum/index.php/topic,15318.0.html

Hi All,

Ever since I started law school in 2007, I have been told numerous times that having an Electrical Engineering Degree is the "hottest" degree to have in the patent realm, but the number of entry-level patent attorney/agent positions are close to zero. Almost all the positions I have found required a minimum of two years of experience in patent prosecution, but occasionally I will find a few job postings that will go as low as 1+ years of required experience.

I have a BSEE and several years of engineering experience at a Fortune 500 telecommunications company. Additionally, I am admitted to the USPTO and will be finishing law school this December. Unfortunately, even after applying to hundreds of job postings, I have only been able to get interviews at two law firms, the USPTO, and a patent search firm.

Even worse, those of my friends with technical degrees who graduated recently have been deferred for 18 months. Should I just stick with engineering until entry-level legal jobs start showing up? Does anyone have any advice on what I should or where I can look for other jobs (other than this site, patentlyo, monster, craigslist, looking through a law firms careers section, and different schools job boards)?

I know the legal profession is still recovering from the economy, but is anyone else experiencing this problem?

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Bosque
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Re: Outlook for EE/patent law?

Postby Bosque » Sun Feb 06, 2011 3:22 am

Julio_El_Chavo wrote:http://www.intelproplaw.com/ip_forum/index.php/topic,15318.0.html

Hi All,

Ever since I started law school in 2007, I have been told numerous times that having an Electrical Engineering Degree is the "hottest" degree to have in the patent realm, but the number of entry-level patent attorney/agent positions are close to zero. Almost all the positions I have found required a minimum of two years of experience in patent prosecution, but occasionally I will find a few job postings that will go as low as 1+ years of required experience.

I have a BSEE and several years of engineering experience at a Fortune 500 telecommunications company. Additionally, I am admitted to the USPTO and will be finishing law school this December. Unfortunately, even after applying to hundreds of job postings, I have only been able to get interviews at two law firms, the USPTO, and a patent search firm.

Even worse, those of my friends with technical degrees who graduated recently have been deferred for 18 months. Should I just stick with engineering until entry-level legal jobs start showing up? Does anyone have any advice on what I should or where I can look for other jobs (other than this site, patentlyo, monster, craigslist, looking through a law firms careers section, and different schools job boards)?

I know the legal profession is still recovering from the economy, but is anyone else experiencing this problem?


That actually brings up a good point I didn't address. Patent prosecution in general is dying, at least where the big firms are concerned. Companies are either moving it in house, or moving it to the cheeper more specialized boutiques that don't do litigation. Problem is, part of the reason those boutiques are able to do it for cheeper is they don't train their associates. They hire associates who have already been trained by the big firms. This is a problem for anyone looking to break in right now, because the people who have the jobs to offer don't want to train you, and the people who are willing to train you don't have the jobs to offer. This is of course not sustainable long term, but that doesn't make the world any prettier for you now, does it?

All the firms would love to have the law schools pick up the slack and be the one to train you, but unfortunately I don't think that will ever work. There is a reason law started out as an apprenticeship system. It is something you need to learn by doing. Law school can help shape you into the kind of thinker that does well in the law, it can fill your head with knowledge that will be useful to understanding the law, but it cannot give you the skills you need in order to practice it. Only on the job experience can do that.

So, it turns into a game of chicken, between the boutique firms and the corporations as to who is going to pick up the tab. Or maybe they will force it off on the USPTO and that is they way all patent prosecution attorneys will get their training in the future. Until then, you might be screwed.

thwalls
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Re: Outlook for EE/patent law?

Postby thwalls » Sun Feb 06, 2011 9:51 am

That actually brings up a good point I didn't address. Patent prosecution in general is dying, at least where the big firms are concerned. Companies are either moving it in house, or moving it to the cheeper more specialized boutiques that don't do litigation. Problem is, part of the reason those boutiques are able to do it for cheeper is they don't train their associates. They hire associates who have already been trained by the big firms. This is a problem for anyone looking to break in right now, because the people who have the jobs to offer don't want to train you, and the people who are willing to train you don't have the jobs to offer. This is of course not sustainable long term, but that doesn't make the world any prettier for you now, does it?



I'm not sure how true that statement is. Most boutique firms either want to train you to write both patents and responses to Official Actions "their way" or they want you to have a book of business. I'm not sure of your personal situation, but that's how the boutique I work for operates.

Moreover, prosecution isn't dying per se since clients are coming to the realization that they get what they pay for. Any good patent is either litigated, licensed, or reexamined. In all three of those situations it had better be well written. If you dropped $1500 on a patent that is the cornerstone of your business and you sue an alleged infringer, chances are that said infringer will counter with invalidity. If the patent is garbage, even if they were infringing, you'll end up losing on a technicality.

Like I said, I'm not sure how the firms you have dealt with operate. But I do know that the prosecution firms which provide excellent work product are thriving. My firm only dropped one attorney and that was after a majority of the recession was over. Then again I work at a boutique, so I have no experience with biglaw other than what I hear from clients and associates.

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Bosque
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Re: Outlook for EE/patent law?

Postby Bosque » Sun Feb 06, 2011 2:16 pm

thwalls wrote:
That actually brings up a good point I didn't address. Patent prosecution in general is dying, at least where the big firms are concerned. Companies are either moving it in house, or moving it to the cheeper more specialized boutiques that don't do litigation. Problem is, part of the reason those boutiques are able to do it for cheeper is they don't train their associates. They hire associates who have already been trained by the big firms. This is a problem for anyone looking to break in right now, because the people who have the jobs to offer don't want to train you, and the people who are willing to train you don't have the jobs to offer. This is of course not sustainable long term, but that doesn't make the world any prettier for you now, does it?



I'm not sure how true that statement is. Most boutique firms either want to train you to write both patents and responses to Official Actions "their way" or they want you to have a book of business. I'm not sure of your personal situation, but that's how the boutique I work for operates.

Moreover, prosecution isn't dying per se since clients are coming to the realization that they get what they pay for. Any good patent is either litigated, licensed, or reexamined. In all three of those situations it had better be well written. If you dropped $1500 on a patent that is the cornerstone of your business and you sue an alleged infringer, chances are that said infringer will counter with invalidity. If the patent is garbage, even if they were infringing, you'll end up losing on a technicality.

Like I said, I'm not sure how the firms you have dealt with operate. But I do know that the prosecution firms which provide excellent work product are thriving. My firm only dropped one attorney and that was after a majority of the recession was over. Then again I work at a boutique, so I have no experience with biglaw other than what I hear from clients and associates.



To be clear, by "Boutique," I don't mean Fish, or Fitzpatrick, or Brinks, ect. I mean the really small 5-20 person shops.

More importantly, I want to offer the disclaimer that I am a lit guy AND only a 2L. This is all from observation only. So while I think my point is defensible, I don't want anyone out there to be confused as to which of us has more experience with patent prosecution. Undoubtedly it is you.

The argument you are making sounds a lot like one I heard from a Fish guy, but I have heard more attorneys express the view I did. They countered (when I brought the Fish guy's argument up) that while they like to tell clients they can do it better than the really small firms or their in house team, it isn't always true. A lot of those other people came from big firms like Fish, and received the same training there. So the quality in the patents hasn't really gone down. Yet. It will, if the trend keeps up and the houses which expend the money on training have to scale back their pat pros operations. But until then it is hard to convince clients they should pay more for approximately the same thing.

The main take away point is that, from what I have heard, having litigation and prosecution all under the same roof might be a thing of the past. The two models are just moving away from each other. Maybe you have heard or seen differently, but from what I have seen I believe it. I am not saying this is a good thing, or that it cannot be reversed (and maybe your firm has figured out how to do it). But if nothing changes, that is where I see the industry heading.

thwalls
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Re: Outlook for EE/patent law?

Postby thwalls » Sun Feb 06, 2011 2:40 pm

The main take away point is that, from what I have heard, having litigation and prosecution all under the same roof might be a thing of the past. The two models are just moving away from each other. Maybe you have heard or seen differently, but from what I have seen I believe it. I am not saying this is a good thing, or that it cannot be reversed (and maybe your firm has figured out how to do it). But if nothing changes, that is where I see the industry heading.


That's absolutely true. From the patent perspective, we handle prosecution, licensing, etc. but as soon as litigation is required we bring in outside counsel. I think boutiques will continue to dominate prosecution because the overhead is so low compared to the bigger shops, but litigation is different beast entirely. My first semester of law school I had certain preconceived notions about what litigation "looks like". While performing research for my firm I learned that patent litigation is not only different in scale, and how protracted it can become, but also in the shear resources required to litigate infringement -- especially if it travels up to a Circuit Court of Appeals.

Bless your heart if you want to do patent lit. I love pros and I'll assist in reseach, but you have to be a special kind of crazy to want to handle litigation since the stakes are so damn high. Unlike other types of litigation, you can get ruling after ruling of validity on your patent but one ruling of invalidity in a court of final jurisdiction and you're done.

turbotong
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Re: Outlook for EE/patent law?

Postby turbotong » Sun Feb 06, 2011 4:47 pm

So did anyone here get summer jobs after their 1L summer?

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Re: Outlook for EE/patent law?

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Feb 06, 2011 4:50 pm

.

hurldes
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Re: Outlook for EE/patent law?

Postby hurldes » Sun Feb 06, 2011 7:57 pm

i know two guys who got paid summer positions after their 1L year.

One worked for a firm for a little and drafted some patents before he started law school. He ended up getting a summer gig for a different firm who liked his experience.

The other guy had his patent bar, was in the middle third of his class at a 35-ish school, and emailed thirteen law firms in CA. Only one emailed him back, but they interviewed him and offered him a position before fall grades even came out. Sounds like an anomaly to me, but I guess it happens.

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Bosque
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Re: Outlook for EE/patent law?

Postby Bosque » Sun Feb 06, 2011 11:58 pm

turbotong wrote:So did anyone here get summer jobs after their 1L summer?


I did, but not working with IP. Got a job in my home market, which only really has one law school locally and is not a huge draw from out of state for legal work. Not working there again this summer.

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Lawlcat
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Re: Outlook for EE/patent law?

Postby Lawlcat » Mon Feb 07, 2011 11:21 am

I apologize if this is a derailing, but: consider enrolling in a good LSAT prep class. 175/3.99 = win before you step through the doors and no need to be concerned about grades for three glorious years.

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Bosque
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Re: Outlook for EE/patent law?

Postby Bosque » Mon Feb 07, 2011 1:09 pm

Lawlcat wrote:I apologize if this is a derailing, but: consider enrolling in a good LSAT prep class. 175/3.99 = win before you step through the doors and no need to be concerned about grades for three glorious years.


Well THAT is not true. Grades are always important, no matter where you are. You might not have to worry as much, but you still have to worry a little

Also, speaking from my experience, a high undergrad GPA in engineering is usually not motivated by fear about not being able to get a job or a lust for prestige or any of the more practical reasons normal people try hard in school, but is instead the result of a perfectionist neurosis that is a bit unhealthy and very hard to turn off. So even if you don't NEED to worry about grades, you are still going to. Which, word of warning OP, is going to make law school grading a bit of a living hell for you. There is no right answer universal to all professors, and the first time you go over an exam with a professor and hear them say your answer was 100% right, but it just didn't go into every issue they wanted to see or didn't go into their pet issue enough, it is going to make your head feel like it is caught in a vice.

turbotong
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Re: Outlook for EE/patent law?

Postby turbotong » Mon Feb 07, 2011 9:14 pm

meh. I got A's cuz I'm asian and my asian parents beat it into me when I was little.
You should try it if you ever have kids - it works. That's why we're the textbook overrepresented minority in education.




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