a future in IP law?

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tekumamba
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a future in IP law?

Postby tekumamba » Thu Aug 18, 2011 1:49 am

I'm a molecular biology student interested in applying to law school, and I think I want to study IP law. I'm concerned though, because I've heard that an IP lawyer usually won't get hired unless they have a PhD in their field. Is this just hear-say, or is it true? Is it due to the bad economy that employers are being more selective, or is this just a general requirement that I'm hoping is not true? =P I don't want to have to spend another 4-7 years in addition to the 3 years of law school chasing a thesis defense in biology (usually people graduate it in 6 years).

thanks

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Julio_El_Chavo
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Re: a future in IP law?

Postby Julio_El_Chavo » Thu Aug 18, 2011 2:10 am

There's no money left in prosecution. IP lit requires you to be top half at a T10 for a decent shot. What law school will you be attending?

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yeast master
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Re: a future in IP law?

Postby yeast master » Thu Aug 18, 2011 2:41 am

It is possible to get an IP litigation position without a PhD, although a PhD seems to help a lot. It would take very high grades at a T50-ish school, or decent grades at a T10, which are pretty much the same credentials required for a general biglaw lit position. I know that IP lit. groups at some big GP firms are largely populated by people that don't have strong technical backgrounds. That said, I wouldn't go to law school with a bio B.S. unless I was confident that I could be happy practicing in fields other than patent law. You just can't count on finding a position without the PhD. I also wouldn't get a PhD just so I could practice patent law. I would only advise going if you are really interested in and enjoy research. 4 to 7 years is an awfully long time to spend just to jump through a hoop.

For prosecution, it really is practically impossible to get a position as a bio B.S.

I think it's an overstatement to say that there is no money in prosecution anymore. There are still quite a few firms paying market salaries for prosecution-focused attorneys, and I've met several prosecuting partners that make big money. Budgets may be smaller in general for prosecution projects, but there's still money to be made there.

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Julio_El_Chavo
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Re: a future in IP law?

Postby Julio_El_Chavo » Thu Aug 18, 2011 3:19 am

yeast master wrote:I think it's an overstatement to say that there is no money in prosecution anymore. There are still quite a few firms paying market salaries for prosecution-focused attorneys, and I've met several prosecuting partners that make big money. Budgets may be smaller in general for prosecution projects, but there's still money to be made there.


The pot of money is shrinking and the number of lawyers with technical degrees going after it is increasing.

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yeast master
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Re: a future in IP law?

Postby yeast master » Thu Aug 18, 2011 4:51 am

Julio_El_Chavo wrote:
yeast master wrote:I think it's an overstatement to say that there is no money in prosecution anymore. There are still quite a few firms paying market salaries for prosecution-focused attorneys, and I've met several prosecuting partners that make big money. Budgets may be smaller in general for prosecution projects, but there's still money to be made there.


The pot of money is shrinking and the number of lawyers with technical degrees going after it is increasing.


I've heard similar things. But even if that's true, patent prosecution is not a bad career path. I admit that I'm nervous enough about it that I'm trying to land a position that is not exclusively prosecution-focused, but you can still make a pretty good living as a patent prosecutor. I think that will be true going forward as well. It may decrease, but I doubt it will die.

Why do you think the pot of money is shrinking long-term? Are companies valuing patents less, or is it just a function of there being an oversupply of patent prosecutors driving prices down?

thwalls
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Re: a future in IP law?

Postby thwalls » Thu Aug 18, 2011 7:38 am

yeast master wrote:
Julio_El_Chavo wrote:
yeast master wrote:I think it's an overstatement to say that there is no money in prosecution anymore. There are still quite a few firms paying market salaries for prosecution-focused attorneys, and I've met several prosecuting partners that make big money. Budgets may be smaller in general for prosecution projects, but there's still money to be made there.


The pot of money is shrinking and the number of lawyers with technical degrees going after it is increasing.


I've heard similar things. But even if that's true, patent prosecution is not a bad career path. I admit that I'm nervous enough about it that I'm trying to land a position that is not exclusively prosecution-focused, but you can still make a pretty good living as a patent prosecutor. I think that will be true going forward as well. It may decrease, but I doubt it will die.

Why do you think the pot of money is shrinking long-term? Are companies valuing patents less, or is it just a function of there being an oversupply of patent prosecutors driving prices down?


As a patent agent, I would agree with some of this. There are still many positions out there for prosecution but there are very few jobs out there for people looking to break into the field. The hardest part is getting a law firm to take you on and train you. Law school and patent bar prep does not train you to prosecute patents, you only learn by doing it. When I was first getting started it took me 6 months to find a position. Luckily I love the firm I'm at so it all worked out. But after 1 year under my belt I'm getting calls from recruiters.

So like I said, there are plenty of jobs out there...as long as you have 1-3 years experience. You just need to find someone to give you that 1 year.

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Julio_El_Chavo
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Re: a future in IP law?

Postby Julio_El_Chavo » Thu Aug 18, 2011 2:48 pm

yeast master wrote:
Julio_El_Chavo wrote:
yeast master wrote:I think it's an overstatement to say that there is no money in prosecution anymore. There are still quite a few firms paying market salaries for prosecution-focused attorneys, and I've met several prosecuting partners that make big money. Budgets may be smaller in general for prosecution projects, but there's still money to be made there.


The pot of money is shrinking and the number of lawyers with technical degrees going after it is increasing.


I've heard similar things. But even if that's true, patent prosecution is not a bad career path. I admit that I'm nervous enough about it that I'm trying to land a position that is not exclusively prosecution-focused, but you can still make a pretty good living as a patent prosecutor. I think that will be true going forward as well. It may decrease, but I doubt it will die.

Why do you think the pot of money is shrinking long-term? Are companies valuing patents less, or is it just a function of there being an oversupply of patent prosecutors driving prices down?


Several reasons:

1) Malpractice liability is increasing and driving many of the top firms away from prosecution. This pushes the jobs to less capitalized smaller firms that pay less.

2) I think the patent reform measures, when passed, will further commoditize patent prosecution and even drive some work in house: as we move to a first-to-file system, the emphasis will be on getting disclosures to the patent office ASAP and I imagine companies will want to cut out the middlemen since filing provisionals is really easy. They'll probably continue working with outside counsel for later stages of prosecution.

3) There are definitely a lot more people with tech degrees going into patent law. This was a trend that started when I was in undergrad five years ago and it's only blown up even more. Enrollment at the LPIP increases every year and prosecution shops can afford to be pickier about who they hire.

4) There are a glut of people out there with prosecution experience who are either unemployed or underemployed. People with experience will be the first ones to get jobs, not new hires.

5) Because there are more patent prosecutors, prices have gone down dramatically. Starting salaries for patent agents have gone from 90k in big cities to 65k and for entry level patent attorneys it's gone from 140-160k to 100-130k (outside of the top boutiques and GP firms, of course, which still pay 145-160k).

bbalcrzy23
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Re: a future in IP law?

Postby bbalcrzy23 » Thu Aug 18, 2011 3:02 pm

I don't think there are many practicing patent attorneys on this forum. I also plan on focusing in patent law after law school. Before I made my final decision to attend law school I emailed and called as many IP attorneys that I could. I just googled firms in locations I thought I would like to live. I was shocked by how willing these attorneys were to speak with me and offer me their advice.

I suggest you do the same. I gained a lot of valuable insight. You can search each firm's website and pick out attorneys to email based on their location and engineering background. Find some Bio/chem backgrounds and contact them. These are the people who are going to be offering (or not offering) you jobs 4 years from now.

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wiseowl
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Re: a future in IP law?

Postby wiseowl » Thu Aug 18, 2011 3:08 pm

a BS in bio with no work experience has very slim odds of getting a patent prosecution job. Zero odds? I didn't say that. But the numbers of masters/PhDs going into law are increasing while the numbers of prosecution slots are decreasing. There are prosecution-only boutiques, but they rarely hire new graduates. Why would they?

feel free to give it a shot, but network your ass off early and often, and if you can pass the patent bar early, do it.

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tekumamba
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Re: a future in IP law?

Postby tekumamba » Thu Aug 18, 2011 5:50 pm

I'm not in law school or attending yet, but right now my numbers are 3.9+ and a 171. I'm aiming for top 8 and if i can get in there, i would love to either learn about IP or corporate law. I just feel like there's a huge barrier to entry if you don't have a phD in biology. btw thanks for all the input guys!

bbalcrzy23
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Re: a future in IP law?

Postby bbalcrzy23 » Thu Aug 18, 2011 6:48 pm

tekumamba wrote:I'm not in law school or attending yet, but right now my numbers are 3.9+ and a 171. I'm aiming for top 8 and if i can get in there, i would love to either learn about IP or corporate law. I just feel like there's a huge barrier to entry if you don't have a phD in biology. btw thanks for all the input guys!


Stellar scores. From what I've heard patent prosecution in Bio is extremely tough without a phD. However if you are interested IP litigation you definitely have a good shot, especially coming from a top 8 school. Anyone can litigate a patent case; having a science background just helps that much more, even if it's only a bachelors.

Again, I highly recommend contacting practicing attorneys who are currently doing exactly what you hope to be doing in 4 years. At the very least you start your networking early on. It's better to ask them these questions now as opposed to asking them during an interview 4 years from now.

http://www.Intelproplaw.com has a lot of good info, check it out.

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erico
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Re: a future in IP law?

Postby erico » Thu Aug 18, 2011 6:54 pm

I agree with the barbarian - it is an overstatement. There are "plenty" of firms paying $140K+ for prosecution -- and these aren't just boutiques.

That said, you will have a extremely difficult time getting one of these pros jobs with a BS in bio. If you are elite you can get a job doing IP lit at a big firm. Otherwise, if you're really intent on IP, I would suggest getting an EE degree.

Anonymous User
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Re: a future in IP law?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Aug 18, 2011 6:59 pm

I have only a BA in biology, attend a CCN and have 13 callbacks from EIP resulting from saying that I want IP. There is definitely a future in IP law for you.

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Re: a future in IP law?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Aug 18, 2011 7:06 pm

tekumamba wrote:I'm not in law school or attending yet, but right now my numbers are 3.9+ and a 171. I'm aiming for top 8 and if i can get in there, i would love to either learn about IP or corporate law. I just feel like there's a huge barrier to entry if you don't have a phD in biology. btw thanks for all the input guys!

Bah. With those stats you will be fine. I see IP Lit in your future. Although it helps, technical expertise isn't required for that, any more than medical degree is required to work in med mal.

Lawyerhead
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Re: a future in IP law?

Postby Lawyerhead » Fri Aug 19, 2011 12:52 am

Anonymous User wrote:I have only a BA in biology, attend a CCN and have 13 callbacks from EIP resulting from saying that I want IP. There is definitely a future in IP law for you.


This isn't saying anything. You could have said you wanted to do anything and received callbacks from firms from Columbia. Still, my firm would never hire someone with just a BA to do prosecution work. IP lit or transactional IP work, sure.

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englawyer
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Re: a future in IP law?

Postby englawyer » Fri Aug 19, 2011 1:13 am

Lawyerhead wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:I have only a BA in biology, attend a CCN and have 13 callbacks from EIP resulting from saying that I want IP. There is definitely a future in IP law for you.


This isn't saying anything. You could have said you wanted to do anything and received callbacks from firms from Columbia. Still, my firm would never hire someone with just a BA to do prosecution work. IP lit or transactional IP work, sure.


agreed. say you are interested in IP lit or IP corp (tech transfers, joint ventures, etc) and you are fine with BS Bio. Science credentials are a plus in those fields but not a requirement. Stay away from IP Prosecution though.

EEguy5
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Re: a future in IP law?

Postby EEguy5 » Fri Aug 19, 2011 11:57 am

Although this is my first post I have followed these forums for a long time now. I have noticed that the general consensus on this thread as well as others is that the number of people going into IP law is increasing and the overall job total in the field is decreasing (specifically in prosecution). Does anyone have any data to back this up or is it generally just knowledge gained from being in the industry, talking to recruiters, etc?

I am not asking because I disagree. I actually dont know one way or the other, but I would like to read any studies/resources out there related to these claims. From my own searches, it seems that most of the job outlook data out there is relating to law in general and I havent been able to find a lot that specifically targets the IP or patent field. So thanks in advance for any links or articles you can provide.

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Re: a future in IP law?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Aug 19, 2011 1:18 pm

englawyer wrote:
Lawyerhead wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:I have only a BA in biology, attend a CCN and have 13 callbacks from EIP resulting from saying that I want IP. There is definitely a future in IP law for you.


This isn't saying anything. You could have said you wanted to do anything and received callbacks from firms from Columbia. Still, my firm would never hire someone with just a BA to do prosecution work. IP lit or transactional IP work, sure.


agreed. say you are interested in IP lit or IP corp (tech transfers, joint ventures, etc) and you are fine with BS Bio. Science credentials are a plus in those fields but not a requirement. Stay away from IP Prosecution though.


Anon poster from above. Actually, I have a below median GPA (lots of Bs) and a lot of my classmates in the same grade range have only 1-4 cbs.

Lawyerhead
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Re: a future in IP law?

Postby Lawyerhead » Fri Aug 19, 2011 8:05 pm

Anonymous User wrote:

Anon poster from above. Actually, I have a below median GPA (lots of Bs) and a lot of my classmates in the same grade range have only 1-4 cbs.


Again, this is pretty meaningless. Firms don't just look at your grades then extend offers (or vice versa).




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