Hypothetical Question

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lawex2012
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Re: Hypothetical Question

Postby lawex2012 » Wed Mar 14, 2012 9:50 pm

Many thanks to the anonymous poster below for providing real information and experience rather than life coaching. Much appreciated and very insightful.

To the life coaches (law students, 1st/2nd year associates as far as I can tell): I hear you but your opinions on social mores aren't really needed. How about you stick to your model, I'll stick to mine, and we can see in 20 years which one works better. To reiterate, money is not an issue, and a patent agent making $110k/yr with 1 yr of work experience isn't in a "menial, dead-end" job by any reasonable standard. Also, "Dual-career family" isn't the same as "Dual 50-60hr workweek family." 2Ls, 3Ls - try doing it for a few years before you give out advice to just "make it work." "Try and fail" is the more likely outcome based on observations of real couples I know.

SAHM is not the alternative to Law School Now. The alternative is Patent Agent and/or PT Law School Now, followed by an attorney position at some type of firm (perhaps even a large one) 3-5 years from now.

Anonymous User wrote:Question #2: Would I have done it again? Hmm. I certainly wouldn't have done it the same way. Honestly, I don't think I realized how crappy the crappy legal work is outside of the big markets. Yes, the hours suck, but once you get to the midlevel associate point, you really are doing interesting and sophisticated work (or at least I was). If I could go back a few years before that and positioned myself to move into more interesting fields in the secondary/tertiary market (academia, USAO, etc.), I think that's what I would have tried to do. But hindsight is 20-20!


Do you mean cities when you say "major markets?" Do you think the crappy work problem would apply to IP boutique firms around major tech hubs? Teaching is actually something my spouse is interested in long term, but I understand it's almost impossible to plan for that (prestigious federal clerkships choose you, not the other way around.)

Anonymous User wrote:Question #3: Could I now move back to biglaw? Probably. My impending job has a pretty good track record of placing people like me (more experienced, had been in biglaw but left for a bit) in firms at the counsel or "senior associate" level. But (1) I don't think that's what I want to do with three kids, and (2) I really lucked into this job -- I think it is probably much more difficult for anyone without that luck.


Do you think that it would have been easier to re-enter biglaw if you had tried to go back to your original firm/office within 3-5 years? The alternate plan I'm thinking of is 1) finish the 1L internship, 2) transitioning to patent agent work and/or PT law school for a few years, then 3) get promoted to attorney after law school. (And I'm guessing she could probably switch firms very easily given her pedigree and patent agent work at a top-tier IP firm.)

Anonymous User wrote:Hope this helps!


Again, thanks so much for your insight. It's really helpful and I'd appreciate more of your thoughts.

lawex2012
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Re: Hypothetical Question

Postby lawex2012 » Wed Mar 14, 2012 9:54 pm

Anonymous User wrote:OP:

I am a law student and I was in a similar situation. My wife and I were both raised by SAHM's and we wanted the same thing for our kids. Everything was set up for my wife to quit work once we started having kids; I switched things up at the last second when I got this crazy idea about law school.


Sounds like you found the right match. Good for you. I actually joke all the time about retiring to take care of the house after graduation, but the spouse doesn't like that idea either! It's a real life Jerry Maguire situation; can't decide if it's hilarious or a tragic sign of our times.

Anonymous User
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Re: Hypothetical Question

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Mar 14, 2012 10:47 pm

lawex2012 wrote:To the life coaches (law students, 1st/2nd year associates as far as I can tell): I hear you but your opinions on social mores aren't really needed. How about you stick to your model, I'll stick to mine, and we can see in 20 years which one works better. To reiterate, money is not an issue, and a patent agent making $110k/yr with 1 yr of work experience isn't in a "menial, dead-end" job by any reasonable standard. Also, "Dual-career family" isn't the same as "Dual 50-60hr workweek family." 2Ls, 3Ls - try doing it for a few years before you give out advice to just "make it work." "Try and fail" is the more likely outcome based on observations of real couples I know.

SAHM is not the alternative to Law School Now. The alternative is Patent Agent and/or PT Law School Now, followed by an attorney position at some type of firm (perhaps even a large one) 3-5 years from now.


OP:

I'm one of the previous anonymous posters, and yes, I have been working at a big firn for the past 8 years. Not in IP, though (I wish!) That's why I responded ot your post, because you asked for input from people who were practicing lawyers and had experience. When you ask for input from a certain group of people, you can't just assume that everyone who responds doesn't fit that mold simply because they don't agree with you.

I do know many IP lawyers, as my firm has a huge IP department. As others have said, it is very unlikely the firm will take her on as a patent agent. Why would they? Think about it: whatever her reason to quit law school (too much stress, burnt out, did not do well in school, succumed to pressure from spouse), all show that she is not cut out to do the job, unfit for it, or has other issues to deal with. If she had small children that she wanted to spend more time with, it may be a different matter but you said don't even have any yet.

I agree with others who said that it would be extremely difficult, if not outright impossible, for her to return to a firm position after years of absence and with children in tow. That point, it seems, is pretty much unanimous.

I hear your concern. You want the best for your children. But take a look and I hope it tells you something that essentially everyone here agrees your plan's unreasonable, myopic, and unnecessarily demanding. Yet you zero in on the one or two people who don't attack you (but even they don't agree that your plan is one that makes sense). For your children, and I speak as a parent as well as the product of two professionals with crazy work schedules, what matters most is the parent's presence when they are with them -- it's not the sheer amount of time. My parents may not have been home all the time with me, but I didn't realize that they had crazy schedules until I was much older beause I knew that when they were with me, they were really there and they loved me. Children know when you are really "with" them when you're with them which many crazy-schedule working parents do. WHen they are home, they are home.

From what I can see, the working hours of patent agents and attorneys (at least in a big firm) are not all that different. If anything, attorneys have more leeway in working from home or leaving early because that's a no-no for staff, which includes agents. And frankly, IP attorneys -- especially patent ones, since it seems like your wife probably is, given her PhD -- man, they have it pretty damn good :)

Anonymous User
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Re: Hypothetical Question

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Mar 14, 2012 10:56 pm

lawex2012 wrote:Sounds like the consensus is that you can never make it back to a top firm as an associate once you've stepped off the chosen track. The only options in the PT/deferment path would then be patent agent at biglaw or associate at a boutique. Is that right?


No. Patent prosecution exists in a different universe than other legal fields. It's normal to go from a patent boutique, even a small no-name one, to a BigLaw firm. However, very few BigLaw firms have large patent prosecution practices. They are usually minor players. Looking at firms with the highest output of issued patents, only McDermott Will & Emery and Foley & Lardner are within the Top 20. Everyone else is either an IP firm or patent boutique.

Your wife should look at patent boutiques. Many have part-time employment options. Some only require 1500-1600 hours. Many are very lifestyle or family oriented.

Anonymous User
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Re: Hypothetical Question

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Mar 14, 2012 11:28 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
lawex2012 wrote:Sounds like the consensus is that you can never make it back to a top firm as an associate once you've stepped off the chosen track. The only options in the PT/deferment path would then be patent agent at biglaw or associate at a boutique. Is that right?


No. Patent prosecution exists in a different universe than other legal fields. It's normal to go from a patent boutique, even a small no-name one, to a BigLaw firm. However, very few BigLaw firms have large patent prosecution practices. They are usually minor players. Looking at firms with the highest output of issued patents, only McDermott Will & Emery and Foley & Lardner are within the Top 20. Everyone else is either an IP firm or patent boutique.

Your wife should look at patent boutiques. Many have part-time employment options. Some only require 1500-1600 hours. Many are very lifestyle or family oriented.


Oh dear. This is going to be a can of worms. But IP boutiqes are dying, merging with others, and being bought out by larger law firms left and right. Fish & Neave. Pennie & Edmonds. Morgan & Finnegan. Lyon & Lyon. Cushman Darby. Need I go on?

http://www.law360.com/ip/articles/155525
http://www.iam-magazine.com/blog/Detail.aspx?g=4982c82e-5512-4be8-b802-dc476f28ca90

I went to a boutique after LS because, well, frankly, I didn't get a biglaw job. And no, I wasn't able to hop over to a biglaw job later. I went to another boutique when I realized firm 1 was squeezed tight and in turn squeezed their associates for money. Firm 2 was no different. My colleagues at biglaw had it better, and no, I'm not saying that in the "grass is greener on the other side" way. Biglaw firms need to compete for top talent, and need to match benefits and flex programs of other firms. They also need to maintain their image and PR. Small firms are not concerned with any of that.

If she has a shot at biglaw now, she should take it. Her top credentials will lose their luster if she settles for a mediocre PT program or small firm job. Just my two cents.

Anonymous User
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Re: Hypothetical Question

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Mar 14, 2012 11:42 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Oh dear. This is going to be a can of worms. But IP boutiqes are dying, merging with others, and being bought out by larger law firms left and right. Fish & Neave. Pennie & Edmonds. Morgan & Finnegan. Lyon & Lyon. Cushman Darby. Need I go on?

http://www.law360.com/ip/articles/155525
http://www.iam-magazine.com/blog/Detail.aspx?g=4982c82e-5512-4be8-b802-dc476f28ca90


Those firms were heavily focused on patent litigation. I'm talking about patent prosecution. When was the last time a major prosecution firm collapsed?

I went to a boutique after LS because, well, frankly, I didn't get a biglaw job. And no, I wasn't able to hop over to a biglaw job later. I went to another boutique when I realized firm 1 was squeezed tight and in turn squeezed their associates for money. Firm 2 was no different. My colleagues at biglaw had it better, and no, I'm not saying that in the "grass is greener on the other side" way. Biglaw firms need to compete for top talent, and need to match benefits and flex programs of other firms. They also need to maintain their image and PR. Small firms are not concerned with any of that.


Perhaps it's regional. I know of several people who have recently interviewed with and received offers from BigLaw firms while working at small firms I've never even heard of.

What BigLaw firms adopt a percentage compensation model or a 1500 hour requirement? At a certain point, patent prosecution is just unsustainable at a BigLaw firm. It's like patent prosecution is merely a loss leader to get access to a client's litigation needs.

Anonymous User
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Re: Hypothetical Question

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Mar 14, 2012 11:45 pm

Anonymous User wrote:OP:

I'm one of the previous anonymous posters, and yes, I have been working at a big firn for the past 8 years. Not in IP, though (I wish!) That's why I responded ot your post, because you asked for input from people who were practicing lawyers and had experience. When you ask for input from a certain group of people, you can't just assume that everyone who responds doesn't fit that mold simply because they don't agree with you.



This. Yes, I'm a practicing attorney, and responded to your post earlier. I was hiring partner for many years. And yes, I still think you are imposing an unreasonable demand on your spouse. I mean, would you hire someone who dropped out of their MBA program after a year, went back to his old job, and now wants to work for you?

You can't look at the entire thread, cherry-pick the ones you like, and pretend that the ones that tell you (from experience) that your plan is untenable are all coming from the wrong people. When this many people (again, from experience) tell you it's off, it should tell you something.

Anonymous User
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Re: Hypothetical Question

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Mar 14, 2012 11:55 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Oh dear. This is going to be a can of worms. But IP boutiqes are dying, merging with others, and being bought out by larger law firms left and right. Fish & Neave. Pennie & Edmonds. Morgan & Finnegan. Lyon & Lyon. Cushman Darby. Need I go on?

http://www.law360.com/ip/articles/155525
http://www.iam-magazine.com/blog/Detail.aspx?g=4982c82e-5512-4be8-b802-dc476f28ca90


Those firms were heavily focused on patent litigation. I'm talking about patent prosecution. When was the last time a major prosecution firm collapsed?

I went to a boutique after LS because, well, frankly, I didn't get a biglaw job. And no, I wasn't able to hop over to a biglaw job later. I went to another boutique when I realized firm 1 was squeezed tight and in turn squeezed their associates for money. Firm 2 was no different. My colleagues at biglaw had it better, and no, I'm not saying that in the "grass is greener on the other side" way. Biglaw firms need to compete for top talent, and need to match benefits and flex programs of other firms. They also need to maintain their image and PR. Small firms are not concerned with any of that.


Perhaps it's regional. I know of several people who have recently interviewed with and received offers from BigLaw firms while working at small firms I've never even heard of.

What BigLaw firms adopt a percentage compensation model or a 1500 hour requirement? At a certain point, patent prosecution is just unsustainable at a BigLaw firm. It's like patent prosecution is merely a loss leader to get access to a client's litigation needs.


I personally know people at Alston & Bird and Arnold & Porter who worked reduced hours. Significant numbers at MoFo, O'Melveny & [deleted], Perkins Coie, Sheppard Mullin, Ropes & Gray, and Weil Gotshal as well just to name a few. (I worked in career services during law school -- and now, as a memebr of the hiring committee (but not at one of these firms) I have to keep up to date of these things). Agree with poster above re keeping up; we're competing for the same talent. And yes, especially for patent attorneys. I would love to talk to OP's wife -- sans the scary spouse.

Also: OP's wife shouldn't limit herself to prosecution. As someone noted, not many big firms have prosecution practices because it's simply not profitable enough. Her background would be great for a firm that does both, where she can be involved in litigation but help out in prosecution as well. Tough to build a career on prosecution alone.

Anonymous User
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Re: Hypothetical Question

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Mar 15, 2012 12:12 am

Anonymous User wrote:
I personally know people at Alston & Bird and Arnold & Porter who worked reduced hours. Significant numbers at MoFo, O'Melveny & [deleted], Perkins Coie, Sheppard Mullin, Ropes & Gray, and Weil Gotshal as well just to name a few. (I worked in career services during law school -- and now, as a memebr of the hiring committee (but not at one of these firms) I have to keep up to date of these things). Agree with poster above re keeping up; we're competing for the same talent. And yes, especially for patent attorneys. I would love to talk to OP's wife -- sans the scary spouse.


I don't think OMM does patent prosecution. Not sure about Weil,too.

Prosecutors looking for lifestyle should consider a variety of more laidback options. Nobody thinks that an attorney from Sterne Kessler is unable to go to a BigLaw firm. That is one of the friendliest, top-notch patent firms in the country. Firms like Schweggman Lundberg Woessner or Blakely Sokoloff are regularly considered among the best.

Everyone in this field knows that the most sought-after attorneys are from Oliff & Berridge. You are a Patent God if you can survive at that horrific place! :P

Anonymous User
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Re: Hypothetical Question

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Mar 15, 2012 12:30 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
I personally know people at Alston & Bird and Arnold & Porter who worked reduced hours. Significant numbers at MoFo, O'Melveny & [deleted], Perkins Coie, Sheppard Mullin, Ropes & Gray, and Weil Gotshal as well just to name a few. (I worked in career services during law school -- and now, as a memebr of the hiring committee (but not at one of these firms) I have to keep up to date of these things). Agree with poster above re keeping up; we're competing for the same talent. And yes, especially for patent attorneys. I would love to talk to OP's wife -- sans the scary spouse.


I don't think OMM does patent prosecution. Not sure about Weil,too.

Prosecutors looking for lifestyle should consider a variety of more laidback options. Nobody thinks that an attorney from Sterne Kessler is unable to go to a BigLaw firm. That is one of the friendliest, top-notch patent firms in the country. Firms like Schweggman Lundberg Woessner or Blakely Sokoloff are regularly considered among the best.

Everyone in this field knows that the most sought-after attorneys are from Oliff & Berridge. You are a Patent God if you can survive at that horrific place! :P


OMM doesn't have a prosecution group, but they are taking on a lot more prosecution work from their litigation clients, and through their huge Asia practice as well. At least their LA and SF offices do. I don't work there (would be nice!) but have law school classmates there .

Agree that Weil probably does not do prosecution, as a vast majority of big firms do not.

Lol on Oliff -- although I don't know about "laidback." At places like Blakely or Knobbe, and certainly Stern, I hear quite a lot of grumbles about same amount of work for less pay (and lots of turnover at Knobbe especially). Now patent lawyers are the happiest and laid back bunch that I know among lawyers, so I guess this is all relative. MoFo, OMM, A&P people tend to seem happy and laidback. I think there's more to it than the big firm/small boutique distinction. It's all about where you are specifically.

Anonymous User
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Re: Hypothetical Question

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Mar 15, 2012 12:31 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
I personally know people at Alston & Bird and Arnold & Porter who worked reduced hours. Significant numbers at MoFo, O'Melveny & [deleted], Perkins Coie, Sheppard Mullin, Ropes & Gray, and Weil Gotshal as well just to name a few. (I worked in career services during law school -- and now, as a memebr of the hiring committee (but not at one of these firms) I have to keep up to date of these things). Agree with poster above re keeping up; we're competing for the same talent. And yes, especially for patent attorneys. I would love to talk to OP's wife -- sans the scary spouse.


I don't think OMM does patent prosecution. Not sure about Weil,too.

Prosecutors looking for lifestyle should consider a variety of more laidback options. Nobody thinks that an attorney from Sterne Kessler is unable to go to a BigLaw firm. That is one of the friendliest, top-notch patent firms in the country. Firms like Schweggman Lundberg Woessner or Blakely Sokoloff are regularly considered among the best.

Everyone in this field knows that the most sought-after attorneys are from Oliff & Berridge. You are a Patent God if you can survive at that horrific place! :P


OMM doesn't have a prosecution group, but they are taking on a lot more prosecution work from their litigation clients, and through their huge Asia practice as well. At least their LA and SF offices do. I don't work there (would be nice!) but have law school classmates there .

Agree that Weil probably does not do prosecution, as a vast majority of big firms do not.

Lol on Oliff -- although I don't know about "laidback." At places like Blakely or Knobbe, and certainly Stern, I hear quite a lot of grumbles about same amount of work for less pay (and lots of turnover at Knobbe especially). Now patent lawyers are the happiest and laid back bunch that I know among lawyers, so I guess this is all relative. MoFo, OMM, A&P people tend to seem happy and laidback. I think there's more to it than the big firm/small boutique distinction. It's all about where you are specifically.

lawex2012
Posts: 8
Joined: Mon Mar 12, 2012 8:29 am

Re: Hypothetical Question

Postby lawex2012 » Thu Mar 15, 2012 1:43 am

Anonymous User wrote:Your wife should look at patent boutiques. Many have part-time employment options. Some only require 1500-1600 hours. Many are very lifestyle or family oriented.


Thanks for the key insights. A prosecution/boutique focus was actually what we discussed prior to 1L but apparently it's impossible to find such a thing in our geographic area. Or so I thought until this thread and 5 minutes of internet research showed the claim to be false. Should be an interesting conversation.

What I'm taking away from all of this is that dialing back career now and ramping back up later is difficult in corporate biglaw, more likely in patents and significantly more likely in patent prosecution. Makes sense given the scarcity of the talent pool, and it's exactly why we came to the prosecution and/or boutique focus initially (so I thought). But of course plans don't count for squat unless you execute. My bad for trusting and not checking on my own earlier I guess.

To the biglaw flesh peddler(s): I'm getting a strong "high tier-2" vibe from your posts. If I'm right, don't worry about snagging my spouse: if 100% career is the decision, she already has options in high tier one.

What a night...

cali_student
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Re: Hypothetical Question

Postby cali_student » Mon Mar 26, 2012 5:01 pm

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Last edited by cali_student on Thu May 16, 2013 2:23 am, edited 1 time in total.

Anonymous User
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Re: Hypothetical Question

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Mar 27, 2012 11:18 am

The knock on P/T JD programs here is ignorant and ridiculous. I can't speak for all P/T programs, but if there is one area where P/T programs carry no stigmas at all, it is in patent law. P/T JD are ubiquitous in the field, and many of the partners I interviewed with came from such programs, including at my biglaw 2L SA. Often, they actually prefer P/T or evening students (including my boss at my in-house internship) because they know that holding a science/engineering job while doing pretty well in law school is a herculean task that speaks of the candidate's abilities and work ethics better than the usual markers of such attributes in law school. That some BIGLAW patent firms offer programs where students bill ~1500h/year, which is only realistic for P/T students, speaks of the respect that those firms have for the institution of P/T JD programs.

As long as Wifie does not take longer the complete the P/T program than normal (most are 4 years), she will be fine, especially since she will be a patent agent the whole time. But even so, the first child will be around 2 when she graduates, so I don't really see how the P/T thing substantially make your lives easier. If, however, she takes longer than 4 years to complete the JD, then you can probably count out biglaw.

ETA: OK, much more informed posters the second page of this thread. Phew.

sidhesadie
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Re: Hypothetical Question

Postby sidhesadie » Tue Mar 27, 2012 12:03 pm

In the OP, he talked of 'deferring law school' and 'finishing a few years down the line'

which is not the same as

"transfer directly into the PT program and finish LS on schedule for the PT program"

switching to the PT program while working full time #1, won't hurt her, but #2, won't save them ANY TIME over her just being in LS full time, it would actually be MORE time away.

It seemed to me what he was originally thinking was that she would QUIT ls entirely for a few years and have babies while being a patent agent, then when they are a little older she can go back and finish ls.

I think most of the initial responses were in reply to the idea that she could quit law school entirely after 1L, then go back a few years later and finish up 2L and 3L. That is a totally different plan than 'transfer to the pt program now and finish on schedule'.

That wasn't what he was suggesting, he was suggesting she take a break from LS entirely, then go back




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