Can you do IP Lit without a science background?

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smittytron3k
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Can you do IP Lit without a science background?

Postby smittytron3k » Tue Jul 19, 2011 12:17 am

I've heard conflicting things--some people seem to indicate that a science background is mandatory, others indicate that you don't need it unless you're doing patent prosecution. Which is it? Does it matter in terms of subject area (life sciences, software, etc.?)

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TaipeiMort
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Re: Can you do IP Lit without a science background?

Postby TaipeiMort » Tue Jul 19, 2011 12:20 am

You can functionally do the work.

Firms differ on if they accept non-IP kids to do the work right out of law school.

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FlanAl
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Re: Can you do IP Lit without a science background?

Postby FlanAl » Tue Jul 19, 2011 12:22 am

I'm too lazy to search for it but in one of the big law dude answering questions thread there is a guy who does ip lit with no science background.

Wavelet
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Re: Can you do IP Lit without a science background?

Postby Wavelet » Tue Jul 19, 2011 12:26 am

This varies wildly by firm. Some firms pretty much require a tech background (e.g., Finnegan, Fish & Richardson) while others have plenty of non-tech people doing IP lit (e.g., Irell, Kirkland). But even where it's not mandatory, a solid tech background will give you a boost when interviewing for a IP lit position.

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thesealocust
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Re: Can you do IP Lit without a science background?

Postby thesealocust » Tue Jul 19, 2011 12:28 am

TaipeiMort wrote:You can functionally do the work.

Firms differ on if they accept non-IP kids to do the work right out of law school.


Pretty much this. You can get hired at a firm that does lit and wind up litigating patent issues, but it's unlikely to be a succesful focus / strategy without a tech background.

Anonymous User
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Re: Can you do IP Lit without a science background?

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Jul 19, 2011 3:08 am

thesealocust wrote:
TaipeiMort wrote:You can functionally do the work.

Firms differ on if they accept non-IP kids to do the work right out of law school.


Pretty much this. You can get hired at a firm that does lit and wind up litigating patent issues, but it's unlikely to be a succesful focus / strategy without a tech background.



agreed. there are successful litigators with no tech background, but they entered this business long time ago. nowadays the chances are more and more limited. most firms require tech background for IP lit.

besides, i think the long term exit options don't look very good for IP litigators without tech background.

Wavelet
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Re: Can you do IP Lit without a science background?

Postby Wavelet » Tue Jul 19, 2011 3:33 am

besides, i think the long term exit options don't look very good for IP litigators without tech background.


What makes you say that?

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drdolittle
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Re: Can you do IP Lit without a science background?

Postby drdolittle » Tue Jul 19, 2011 3:52 am

Wavelet wrote:
besides, i think the long term exit options don't look very good for IP litigators without tech background.


What makes you say that?

I don't think that's right. If you're coming out of a good enough firm, and thus have relevant experience, that's all that will matter. Some firms may prefer a science background even for IP litigation positions as an initial no-brainer screen, but definitely not all firms do this. It's not unusual for a firm to stress that a science degree is not required for IP lit. Besides, grades more than make up for the lack of a science background for IP lit positions, typically. Also, some of IP lit is not even science based, like copyrights and trademarks, so for that a science background is not important whatsoever.

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KMaine
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Re: Can you do IP Lit without a science background?

Postby KMaine » Tue Jul 19, 2011 6:31 am

My firm does not require a tech. background.

taxguy
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Re: Can you do IP Lit without a science background?

Postby taxguy » Tue Jul 19, 2011 7:49 am

If you were to have asked me this question ten years ago, I would have told you that IP pretty much requires a science background. However, I would have been mistaken. I have met dozens of folks,including a director at the International Trade Commision that does a lot of IP litigation, that don't have science backgrounds. One of the most famous IP professors in the US doesn't have a science background. They simply use external witnesses to evaluate any specific scientific needs for the case.
Bottom line: Although a science background would be very helpful for IP just like an accounting background would be helpful for tax, you don't need either of these backgrounds to go into these fields.

kaspar
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Re: Can you do IP Lit without a science background?

Postby kaspar » Tue Jul 19, 2011 9:16 am

Patent? Probably
"Soft" IP? No

EDIT: yes, I read the OP as "do you need a science background..."
Last edited by kaspar on Tue Jul 19, 2011 11:57 am, edited 1 time in total.

azntwice
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Re: Can you do IP Lit without a science background?

Postby azntwice » Tue Jul 19, 2011 11:39 am

@kaspar, i think you have it reversed. you can definitely do soft ip without a science background, but patent law is more iffy.

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Re: Can you do IP Lit without a science background?

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Jul 19, 2011 12:40 pm

Wavelet wrote:
besides, i think the long term exit options don't look very good for IP litigators without tech background.


What makes you say that?



i was really talking about patent lit.
so if an assoc. walks out of a big firm after ## yrs, typical exit options are small firms and in-house.
small firms - very few do patent lit, mostly patent prosecution, which def requires strong matching tech background.
in-house - obvi all patent related in-house jobs are with tech companies, which still prefer you understand their tech and products, unless your work is to manage lit of the company.
(but i guess only big corps need in-house counsels whose sole responsibility is to manage lit, and, those folks are always the first to be axed when big layoffs come, bc they are purely costs and always depress execs with big bills.)
maybe transactions require a little bit less tech background, if you just negotiate and draft contracts.
bottom line - patent practice heavily relies on the underlying technology, so lacking relevant background is a short board that will limit your opportunities somewhere down the road.

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Re: Can you do IP Lit without a science background?

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Jul 19, 2011 2:35 pm

if you don't have a science related degree you can't take the patent bar without some certification or taking a certain amount of science classes in UG.

slightly off topic, but does anyone know how the IP market is? It seems like legal employment in general isn't doing well but I would think IP is slightly more insulated since JDs with a science/engineering background are rarer and tech (at least at Silicon Valley) hasn't been hit by the recession that badly.

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stratocophic
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Re: Can you do IP Lit without a science background?

Postby stratocophic » Tue Jul 19, 2011 2:47 pm

Anonymous User wrote:if you don't have a science related degree you can't take the patent bar without some certification or taking a certain amount of science classes in UG.

slightly off topic, but does anyone know how the IP market is? It seems like legal employment in general isn't doing well but I would think IP is slightly more insulated since JDs with a science/engineering background are rarer and tech (at least at Silicon Valley) hasn't been hit by the recession that badly.

Eh we're better off than everyone else, but that isn't saying much. Crap or even just ok grades can easily mean you're screwed without something else going for you - especially if you're just a bio major or something. Engineers, people with tech work experience, and minorities have it easier than most in IP from what i've heard... but it's still gonna be a struggle unless you kill1L or go to Harvard. We're rarer, but there are also less SA spots for us than the indistinguishable mass of litigation people, especially when you consider that some firms may be looking for specific majors for pros and if you aren't that, you're SOL. Maybe more per capita, but not by enough to where anyone but the best should feel comfortable.

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Re: Can you do IP Lit without a science background?

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Jul 19, 2011 3:06 pm

Anonymous User wrote:if you don't have a science related degree you can't take the patent bar without some certification or taking a certain amount of science classes in UG.

slightly off topic, but does anyone know how the IP market is? It seems like legal employment in general isn't doing well but I would think IP is slightly more insulated since JDs with a science/engineering background are rarer and tech (at least at Silicon Valley) hasn't been hit by the recession that badly.


The IP market is hit for sure.
I think IP has been hyped too much, and has lured too many people into law only to make it more competitive. I'm talking about those who normally wouldn't think about law school. But now it's all packed - bio/chem and even cs, med school dropouts, engineers laid off, sci eng grads who can't find jobs, etc etc.




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