Career path of a lawyer (especially in IP)

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collegebum1989
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Career path of a lawyer (especially in IP)

Postby collegebum1989 » Thu Apr 05, 2012 10:33 am

I'm an engineer, and recently I've been piqued by the unique niche career in intellectual property/patent law. From what I've read, it is a good mix of technical/non-technical work balance, while being complemented with a strong demand and compensation.

What does a traditional career path for a lawyer specially in ip look like say 10 years after law school, 20 years? I've always been interested in entrepreneurship and startup companies, do some patent lawyers exit the legal industry and either work as executives or consultants in industry?

My main dilemma is that I'm in a masters program in engineering right now, and debating whether or not to go to graduate school to do a PhD or go into law school. Im not not interested in a research-oriented career but i am interested in the development of new ideas into business practices. I want to use my engineering knowledge to develop novel ideas, but not in a lab, per se. Is this something a career in patent law would allow me to do?

I ask because, I do not identify myself as completely a scientist or completely a lawyer...so I'm not sure if a career in patent law would be a step in the right direction.

All feedback/experience would be great! Thank you.

r6_philly
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Re: Career path of a lawyer (especially in IP)

Postby r6_philly » Thu Apr 05, 2012 10:58 am

My understanding is (maybe I am wrong) that IP/patent law hasn't been around long enough for anyone to answer this with authority. I don't know how many true engineers went to law school in the late 80s, so it's probably difficult to spot a trend. Also the field is changing and evolving, it is hard to say.

I feel similar to you. I don't want to just give up my craft, but I don't think practicing law would allow me to continue to be a technology innovator. You can probably transition out of law and back into the engineering industry with the knowledge of how to commercialize and protect your innovations, and that would probably make you very marketable. I think 20 years into your career, you may be focusing more on managing than actually practicing the law, so you won't be just a lawyer anyway.

collegebum1989
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Re: Career path of a lawyer (especially in IP)

Postby collegebum1989 » Thu Apr 05, 2012 11:25 am

I was satisfied with pursuing patent law, until I read a research publication about technology innovation which attributed the credit to creative engineers and brilliant scientists. Just got me thinking about if any patent lawyers get to this level in their careers (participating in innovation), rather than just drafting the legal documentation which protects it.

From interacting with the faculty in my graduate school, I get the perception that patents and patent lawyers represent a hurdle to scientists rather than as collaborators. Maybe I spoke with a biased group, but it seemed like the lawyers just convert the innovation into a legal document, rather than participating in developing it.

But thinking about a career of a engineer in industry, it seems like you become part of a workforce, who although participates directly in innovation, does so at a very limited extent until you spend a certain amount of years dedicating yourself to the industry to either become a senior engineer or a manager. Most of the engineers I know, have settled in their positions in their companies and basically have desk jobs.

However, a PhD may represent the academic rigor for someone to pursue novel research required for innovation. But the graduate school experience is usually idealized as delving into creative thought, and pursuing intellectual ideas. From my experiences, most PhD students are dissatisfied by their fifth/sixth year and unless they go to a top school, have trouble finding a job outside of academia.

It's tough to decide what to do, when you have such inter-disciplinary interests in a career. Maybe others have had these thoughts as well?

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Big Shrimpin
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Re: Career path of a lawyer (especially in IP)

Postby Big Shrimpin » Thu Apr 05, 2012 11:35 am

collegebum1989 wrote:What does a traditional career path for a lawyer specially in ip look like say 10 years after law school, 20 years?


Some IP boutiques have been around since the late 1800s, so I'd presume you could do IP lit for your entire career.


collegebum1989 wrote:I've always been interested in entrepreneurship and startup companies, do some patent lawyers exit the legal industry and either work as executives or consultants in industry?


Depending upon your practice, exit options into public/private companies certainly exists.

collegebum1989 wrote:My main dilemma is that I'm in a masters program in engineering right now, and debating whether or not to go to graduate school to do a PhD or go into law school. Im not not interested in a research-oriented career but i am interested in the development of new ideas into business practices. I want to use my engineering knowledge to develop novel ideas, but not in a lab, per se. Is this something a career in patent law would allow me to do?

I ask because, I do not identify myself as completely a scientist or completely a lawyer...so I'm not sure if a career in patent law would be a step in the right direction.

All feedback/experience would be great! Thank you.


It seems like you've got a lot of soul-searching to do. Don't go to law school unless you're CERTAIN it's the right path for you. I realized I didn't want to be an engineer during my senior year of UG, and after a year of work, I decided LS was the right move. Nobody here can tell you what's best, but if you want a more in-depth perspective, shoot me a PM. And good luck finishing the masters!

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chem
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Re: Career path of a lawyer (especially in IP)

Postby chem » Thu Apr 05, 2012 11:36 am

This topic is relevant to my interests in almost every single way. Tagged

r6_philly
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Re: Career path of a lawyer (especially in IP)

Postby r6_philly » Thu Apr 05, 2012 11:36 am

Depending on who's class you take, you get different thoughts on why we have patent law and the actual impact on innovation. Having strong property rights and protection arguably encourage innovation because it provides and preserves incentives for people to invest in innovation. Of course there is always a downside to every effort to influence the market. I am on the side believing in strong protection (as long as you don't overdo it). But there are many people on the other side. Where I went to UG, all the academics really hated IP law because of the same things you mentioned - hurdles to cross. However, those same hurdles may turn around and bar others from taking what you rightfully created.

Anyway, I think there are positions in industry that can allow you to serve both sides. Like it or not, laws are in place to influence innovation, so having mastery of the law will allow you to advocate for either side effectively, regardless of your beliefs. That's my misguided motivation to go into law anyway :mrgreen: After working in the field for more than a decade, I am convinced that I am doing what I want to do.

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Big Shrimpin
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Re: Career path of a lawyer (especially in IP)

Postby Big Shrimpin » Thu Apr 05, 2012 11:45 am

r6_philly wrote:Depending on who's class you take, you get different thoughts on why we have patent law and the actual impact on innovation. Having strong property rights and protection arguably encourage innovation because it provides and preserves incentives for people to invest in innovation. Of course there is always a downside to every effort to influence the market. I am on the side believing in strong protection (as long as you don't overdo it). But there are many people on the other side. Where I went to UG, all the academics really hated IP law because of the same things you mentioned - hurdles to cross. However, those same hurdles may turn around and bar others from taking what you rightfully created.

Anyway, I think there are positions in industry that can allow you to serve both sides. Like it or not, laws are in place to influence innovation, so having mastery of the law will allow you to advocate for either side effectively, regardless of your beliefs. That's my misguided motivation to go into law anyway :mrgreen: After working in the field for more than a decade, I am convinced that I am doing what I want to do.


This is great. My motivation stemmed from marveling at innovation in biomedical engineering (I'm way too dumb to invent or improve heart pumps, etc.). I respect all the work that goes into innovation, so I want to ensure that inventors can get the reward of exclusivity (of course, if they want it) for that contribution.

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rayiner
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Re: Career path of a lawyer (especially in IP)

Postby rayiner » Thu Apr 05, 2012 12:06 pm

From interacting with the faculty in my graduate school, I get the perception that patents and patent lawyers represent a hurdle to scientists rather than as collaborators. Maybe I spoke with a biased group, but it seemed like the lawyers just convert the innovation into a legal document, rather than participating in developing it.


Obviously lawyers don't participate in the development of innovations. That's not their area of expertise. They are, however, a useful cog in the innovation machine, just like engineers and just like all the other people that make technology companies function.

As for patent law being a hurdle to innovation. It can be, but it can also be a huge benefit. Patents make it possible to separate the innovation side from the manufacturing side. I worked (as an engineer) at a tech company that did strictly R&D--we could compete with Raytheon, etc, in designing the types of things we designed, but certainly not in manufacturing finished products. Lot's of companies function like that. E.g. ARM Ltd. doesn't produce processors, they design processors then license the design to manufacturers. These companies couldn't exist without patent protection. The game would become all about manufacturing muscle, and big companies would have a huge edge over startups in that area.

collegebum1989
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Re: Career path of a lawyer (especially in IP)

Postby collegebum1989 » Thu Apr 05, 2012 1:47 pm

[/quote] It seems like you've got a lot of soul-searching to do. Don't go to law school unless you're CERTAIN it's the right path for you. I realized I didn't want to be an engineer during my senior year of UG, and after a year of work, I decided LS was the right move. Nobody here can tell you what's best, but if you want a more in-depth perspective, shoot me a PM. And good luck finishing the masters![/quote]


Thanks for the valuable advice, I understood engineering wasn't a career I wanted to pursue after understanding how technical proficiency is limited to the engineering community. The engineers who move through the corporate ladder are ones who understand the industry AND have the inter-personal/management skills to run the company. In the long-run, being a successful engineer does not necessary mean a successful, meaningful career without understanding what factors are the most important for a company. In any industry, the ones making the valuable decisions are the executives, and engineers represent the workforce who work based on these decisions (I know I am generalizing a lot here).

I didn't want to commit myself to a career where I would have to be limited to being an engineer in a large industry for a career. I chose to pursue patent law because it represented flexibility between technical proficiency and the intellectual rigor of legal thought. Also, getting a JD would/can lead to a retired position in IP academia (although very competitive), whereas academic positions in science and engineering are usually reserved for those with academic doctorates and significant scientific experience in academia. The flexibility of a JD vs. PhD as a professional vs. academic degree was one of the reasons I chose to pursue it.

I guess, since I'm in graduate school right now, I'm immersed in the engineering and academic side of science and less exposed to the IP and legal community. After reading this thread, I think it's best to get feedback from IP professionals themselves.

turbotong
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Re: Career path of a lawyer (especially in IP)

Postby turbotong » Thu Apr 05, 2012 2:05 pm

Here are the two career paths, assuming you're not gunning for partner at a law firm.
Patent prosecution for a few years until the law firm can't afford to pay your increasing salaries with the fixed fee patents, then you go to an patent prosecution boutique or be an in-house adviser.
Patent lit for a few years, then you either lateral into another firm or go in house.

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Re: Career path of a lawyer (especially in IP)

Postby jhett » Thu Apr 05, 2012 2:34 pm

I am a patent practitioner so I'll try to address some of your questions.

collegebum1989 wrote:What does a traditional career path for a lawyer specially in ip look like say 10 years after law school, 20 years? I've always been interested in entrepreneurship and startup companies, do some patent lawyers exit the legal industry and either work as executives or consultants in industry?


Listed below are the most "popular" career paths in IP, but there's nothing stopping you from forging your own unique career path
- Stay in a law firm (ranging from biglaw to IP boutiques) and make partner. On the corporate side, you'll be involved in transactions, licensing, IP strategy, and (if you are a patent attorney) patent prosecution and opinion work. On the litigation side, well, you litigate IP.
- Start in a law firm and move in-house (or start in-house) in a tech company. You'll be doing many of the same things as in a law firm but you only have one client (your employer). You may be able to transition to a hybrid business/legal position and possibly into an executive position.
- Legal academia, either by going to a top school or having experience in the field

collegebum1989 wrote: want to use my engineering knowledge to develop novel ideas, but not in a lab, per se. Is this something a career in patent law would allow me to do?


No, you will not in all likelihood become an inventor by going into IP law (and more specifically, patents). What you will do is draft patents for inventors (turning their technical disclosures into a patent). Patent lawyers usually are not able to add their names to patents unless they truly think of something that will go into the patent that the inventors themselves did not conceive. Most of patent drafting is thinking up different ways to describe and protect the invention, and adding information about minor variations (which does not make you an inventor).

It sounds as if what you actually want to do is venture capital work, or simply become an entrepreneur. I don't have much of an idea about how to break into the VC world.

You can IM me with additional questions, if you wish.

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Re: Career path of a lawyer (especially in IP)

Postby Black-Blue » Thu Apr 05, 2012 3:04 pm

Maybe I spoke with a biased group, but it seemed like the lawyers just convert the innovation into a legal document, rather than participating in developing it.

That is exactly what a patent attorney does. The fundamental role of the patent attorney is not to make the invention, but to describe the invention. The secondary roles (depending on the type of patent attorney) include arguing why the invention is different from previous inventions so as to deserve a patent, and arguing why a product on the market that is the same as (i.e., "infringing") the invention you patented.

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erico
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Re: Career path of a lawyer (especially in IP)

Postby erico » Thu Apr 05, 2012 3:10 pm

you can get involved on the innovation side when you're thinking of alternative embodiments. this certainly isn't a large part of the job though.

i think you should go for the PhD. that will allow you to cross over to the biz/executive side if you want to do it.

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Re: Career path of a lawyer (especially in IP)

Postby bree » Thu Apr 05, 2012 3:48 pm

collegebum1989 wrote:I want to use my engineering knowledge to develop novel ideas, but not in a lab, per se. Is this something a career in patent law would allow me to do?


You sound like you're interested in going into business, not into law.

I'd suggest
1) go work at an engineering company and transition to the biz side
OR
2) go to business school (after some work experience)
OR
3) start a company

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englawyer
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Re: Career path of a lawyer (especially in IP)

Postby englawyer » Thu Apr 05, 2012 5:37 pm

bree wrote:
collegebum1989 wrote:I want to use my engineering knowledge to develop novel ideas, but not in a lab, per se. Is this something a career in patent law would allow me to do?


You sound like you're interested in going into business, not into law.

I'd suggest
1) go work at an engineering company and transition to the biz side
OR
2) go to business school (after some work experience)
OR
3) start a company


+1 largely. note that none of these include going for a Ph.D. either.

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erico
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Re: Career path of a lawyer (especially in IP)

Postby erico » Thu Apr 05, 2012 5:41 pm

englawyer wrote:
bree wrote:
collegebum1989 wrote:I want to use my engineering knowledge to develop novel ideas, but not in a lab, per se. Is this something a career in patent law would allow me to do?


You sound like you're interested in going into business, not into law.

I'd suggest
1) go work at an engineering company and transition to the biz side
OR
2) go to business school (after some work experience)
OR
3) start a company


+1 largely. note that none of these include going for a Ph.D. either.


lots of ppl who start companies, and many ceos/high-level mgmt, have phds. i'm not saying it's required, but there seems to be a correlative relationship.

collegebum1989
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Re: Career path of a lawyer (especially in IP)

Postby collegebum1989 » Sat Apr 07, 2012 8:45 pm

Thanks for the awesome advice!

Definitely interested in careers in product development, entrepreneurship, and technology. But here's why I am considering a JD instead of a PhD.

My field/background is Biomedical Engineering, and the biotechnology industry is the type of work I want to pursue within my career. One reason I wouldn't pursue the PhD is because from what I've seen in graduate school is that the PhDs end up going into academic research and/or regulatory positions such as FDA, government, etc. Industry positions are always research-oriented, and dependent on your specific skill-set based on your thesis. Although there are PhD's that go into business development, their positions are mostly managerial.

Second, in the medical/biomedical regime outside of academic research, I've seen that MD's have the greatest authority in determining the viability of products (based on their medical knowledge). They also bring in the most amount of money, so in effect, products are developed for the MD's because they are the ones who are clinically trained. A PhD can design and develop the product, but the MD has the say in how it must be done.

Third, thinking in terms of probability: A science/engineering career with a PhD is remarkably competitive because of market pressure. It takes 5 years or more to pursue a PhD with no guarantee that you will have a job in a specific type of industry, company, etc unless you go to a top engineering school (MIT, Stanford, etc.). The employment process is more individualized; meaning you'll see unemployed PhDs, and you'll also see PhD's who are highly successful. Since there is no barrier to enter the field (except maybe research or R&D), the field is not as standardized as medicine or law (where you need to degree to enter the field).

So, you can pursue a PhD, but there are many many factors which decide upon whether you will be marketable to industry afterwards (your school, your thesis, your adviser, and your individual skill set). However, with a professional degree, you have to get licensed to practice a profession, and this makes the employment process more standardized. In Patent Law, which is a niche career, my background would specifically be advantageous after Law School.

Hate to say it, but thinking also in terms of salary, the average PhD engineer makes around $100k plus/minus 20-40k. However, a patent attorney has the potential to have a more lucrative career. Of course, there are scientists who start businesses and make billions of dollars, but that is not the norm. Whereas, the average patent lawyer will have a significantly higher salary than a PhD scientist.


Lastly, any career I go into, I want there to be intellectual rigor involved. With business, it seems everything seems to be driven by revenue and profits, which is why I would never be able to go to B-school. But the abstract concepts of law, like the concepts of science/engineering are rigorous applications of logic. People have said that even if one does decide to pursue a career outside of law maybe into entrepreneurship a JD will open more doors than a PhD, is this true?

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erico
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Re: Career path of a lawyer (especially in IP)

Postby erico » Sat Apr 07, 2012 9:06 pm

collegebum1989 wrote:The employment process is more individualized; meaning you'll see unemployed PhDs, and you'll also see PhD's who are highly successful.


This is at least as true for law, if not more. If you have a PhD from a decent school in an in demand field (e.g., EE), I guarantee you will get a job, unless you're a total freak.

The same may be true for EE w/a JD though -- not sure. I would think the prestige and grades play into it a lot more.

collegebum1989 wrote:Hate to say it, but thinking also in terms of salary, the average PhD engineer makes around $100k plus/minus 20-40k. However, a patent attorney has the potential to have a more lucrative career. Of course, there are scientists who start businesses and make billions of dollars, but that is not the norm. Whereas, the average patent lawyer will have a significantly higher salary than a PhD scientist.


Lastly, any career I go into, I want there to be intellectual rigor involved. With business, it seems everything seems to be driven by revenue and profits, which is why I would never be able to go to B-school. But the abstract concepts of law, like the concepts of science/engineering are rigorous applications of logic. People have said that even if one does decide to pursue a career outside of law maybe into entrepreneurship a JD will open more doors than a PhD, is this true?


As a patent attorney, you will likely make more money, especially if you get into big law. So if you just base it on money, whatever. But you're not going to be doing product development as a patent attorney. It would be, in my mind, quite an unlikely path, one you would be better off transitioning to from an engineering role (don't need b-school or a jd). Furthermore, the role you're talking about seems more like product development/biz dev/etc rather than hardcore engineering (which is what you're saying requires intellectual rigor and is what you're looking for -- and i agree that it is more rigorous). In other words, you seem to be a little schizo on what you're looking for. And that's fine. I would talk to people in industry who do what you think you would like to do and get their thoughts. I was previously and engineer for about 4 years and am now going into patent law, but I've worked a bit on the business side. And in my opinion, a JD is a roundabout way to get where it seems like you want to go. My $0.02: get an MS, PhD, and/or MBA. MBA won't necessarily peg you to something non-rigorous, especially if you have an MS as well. FWIW.

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Re: Career path of a lawyer (especially in IP)

Postby truevines » Sat Apr 07, 2012 9:24 pm

collegebum1989 wrote:Thanks for the awesome advice!

Definitely interested in careers in product development, entrepreneurship, and technology. But here's why I am considering a JD instead of a PhD.

. . . .

My field/background is Biomedical Engineering, and the biotechnology industry is the type of work I want to pursue within my career. One reason I wouldn't pursue the PhD is because from what I've seen in graduate school is that the PhDs end up going into academic research and/or regulatory positions such as FDA, government, etc. Industry positions are always research-oriented, and dependent on your specific skill-set based on your thesis. Although there are PhD's that go into business development, their positions are mostly managerial.

. . . .

So, you can pursue a PhD, but there are many many factors which decide upon whether you will be marketable to industry afterwards (your school, your thesis, your adviser, and your individual skill set). However, with a professional degree, you have to get licensed to practice a profession, and this makes the employment process more standardized. In Patent Law, which is a niche career, my background would specifically be advantageous after Law School.



If your BioE background is more biochemical than EE/ME, you're faced with competitions from Bio/Chem Ph. Ds. You probably will not have the required advanced knowledge for Bio/Chem works (especially in prosecution). Not really a niche market for a BioE master.

If your BioE background is more EE/ME, you're still faced with competitions from pure EE majors and might be disadvantaged when it comes to consumer-electronics-type of work.

* * *
My BioE friend once said - BioE falls short of EE/ME and of Bio/Chem at the same time.

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Re: Career path of a lawyer (especially in IP)

Postby chem » Sat Apr 07, 2012 10:27 pm

truevines wrote:
collegebum1989 wrote:Thanks for the awesome advice!

Definitely interested in careers in product development, entrepreneurship, and technology. But here's why I am considering a JD instead of a PhD.

. . . .

My field/background is Biomedical Engineering, and the biotechnology industry is the type of work I want to pursue within my career. One reason I wouldn't pursue the PhD is because from what I've seen in graduate school is that the PhDs end up going into academic research and/or regulatory positions such as FDA, government, etc. Industry positions are always research-oriented, and dependent on your specific skill-set based on your thesis. Although there are PhD's that go into business development, their positions are mostly managerial.

. . . .

So, you can pursue a PhD, but there are many many factors which decide upon whether you will be marketable to industry afterwards (your school, your thesis, your adviser, and your individual skill set). However, with a professional degree, you have to get licensed to practice a profession, and this makes the employment process more standardized. In Patent Law, which is a niche career, my background would specifically be advantageous after Law School.



If your BioE background is more biochemical than EE/ME, you're faced with competitions from Bio/Chem Ph. Ds. You probably will not have the required advanced knowledge for Bio/Chem works (especially in prosecution). Not really a niche market for a BioE master.

If your BioE background is more EE/ME, you're still faced with competitions from pure EE majors and might be disadvantaged when it comes to consumer-electronics-type of work.

* * *
My BioE friend once said - BioE falls short of EE/ME and of Bio/Chem at the same time.


Semi thread jack. Where would ChemE fall you think

collegebum1989
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Re: Career path of a lawyer (especially in IP)

Postby collegebum1989 » Sun Apr 08, 2012 2:05 pm

I'm in a masters program currently, and yes, I've heard that EE/ME type is preferred for patent law. But my interests are more on the side of medical devices, biomaterials, and microscopy which are less-bio/chem (big pharma) oriented and more medical-oriented. I've considered doing a PhD, but a lot of people have said that going for a PhD just for the degree is suicide, and that most schools accept PhD applicants with the intention of them going into academics/research. So going into a PhD program with the intent of pursuing patent law would only mean I'd have to lie about my career interests to even get in.

I've also read that some firms don't care about your degree, as long as its an engineering degree, and having a masters in an engineering field, which actually give you an edge. I've also considered, doing a JD/MS in EE during law school, but that's just an early thought.

As much as I love engineering, I hate doing it. Weird as it may sound, I like thinking methodologically, and planning out experimental designs/tests and understanding them, but can't see myself doing these things for a living. I hate conducting research, but I love reading about it, understanding it and thinking of new approaches to solve current problems. I also love communicating science to people within and outside the field.

Salary is not a big factor for me but education is. I am South-Asian, and from a family with three MDs, so you can sort of understand the financial and educational pressure to succeed lol. An engineer doesn't rank highly to my family as a physician, but lawyers do (in terms of degrees and earning) which is a secondary reason I felt patent law would be perfect for me. And I would never ever go to medical school like everyone else lol.

Also, anyone who is interested in a forum specific for IP, can check out intelproplaw forums. I've got some great advice there.

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Re: Career path of a lawyer (especially in IP)

Postby Black-Blue » Sun Apr 08, 2012 3:09 pm

The employment process is more individualized; meaning you'll see unemployed PhDs, and you'll also see PhD's who are highly successful.

I think this is true. If you go to law school, you go to school, then get a job at biglaw or some patent prosecution boutique, and that's it. But for PhDs, you don't have a standardized hiring model outside of research positions. The biggest complication with PhDs who aren't going into research is that the PhD isn't necessarily an advantage over the masters, whereas the JD is clearly and advantage over the non-JD.

To be sure, if your JD grades are really terrible, you can end up unemployed, but at least you can see it coming.

Lastly, any career I go into, I want there to be intellectual rigor involved.

I'm not entirely sure what you mean by this. But of course being a lawyer or engineer is less intellectual than being a researcher.

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Re: Career path of a lawyer (especially in IP)

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Apr 08, 2012 4:30 pm

collegebum1989 wrote:Salary is not a big factor for me but education is. I am South-Asian, and from a family with three MDs, so you can sort of understand the financial and educational pressure to succeed lol. An engineer doesn't rank highly to my family as a physician, but lawyers do (in terms of degrees and earning) which is a secondary reason I felt patent law would be perfect for me. And I would never ever go to medical school like everyone else lol.


I'm South Asian myself, and one thing you should think about is how engineering is much more egalitarian for people like us than the law. I'm doing well, but it was a surprise at how different the legal world is compared to engineering. Sometimes I think I can go farther as an engineer than a lawyer.

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Re: Career path of a lawyer (especially in IP)

Postby collegebum1989 » Sun Apr 08, 2012 5:40 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
collegebum1989 wrote:Salary is not a big factor for me but education is. I am South-Asian, and from a family with three MDs, so you can sort of understand the financial and educational pressure to succeed lol. An engineer doesn't rank highly to my family as a physician, but lawyers do (in terms of degrees and earning) which is a secondary reason I felt patent law would be perfect for me. And I would never ever go to medical school like everyone else lol.


I'm South Asian myself, and one thing you should think about is how engineering is much more egalitarian for people like us than the law. I'm doing well, but it was a surprise at how different the legal world is compared to engineering. Sometimes I think I can go farther as an engineer than a lawyer.



I agree with you, and my parents have brought this up also, but this is how I see it. Although degrees do not correlate with intelligence in any way, in the general sense, the one's who are the most educated are usually perceived to be the upper-echelon of society. This is also why they are compensated the most. With this regard, I knew I wanted to be the most educated I could be as possible (MD, JD, PhD, or anything else). It's a product of being brought up by two doctors, and seeing anything less than a doctorate as an underachiever.

What I have noticed is that all fields are not created equal. I know people always say to choose a field which you love the most, but I disagree with this to a certain extent. There are perceptions of career fields based on earnings, education, training, pressure, etc. Its the same reason why an undergraduate degree in engineering is so valued; because there is a perception that being trained in an engineering field prepares you more for real-world positions (which then results in a higher starting salary). But the most lucrative engineers, for the most part, from what I've seen are the ones who exit the technical realm and applying these engineering skills in another avenue (management, startups, patent law, etc). The engineers I do know, who've remained in the technical field are average 9-5ers making an average or middle salary. Unless, they have a PhD/MBA, then they have other opportunities.

Short story: Engineering is a great career to start at, but you have to move onto something else. This is because engineers' salaries tend to plateau after a certain amount of time, and then either you move into management to reach the next salary bracket, or you get stuck. For me, patent law hopefully will provide more options for growth, and with a doctorate, provide me with other options beyond research that a PhD would provide.

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Re: Career path of a lawyer (especially in IP)

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Apr 08, 2012 8:21 pm

chem wrote:Semi thread jack. Where would ChemE fall you think


ChemE is a rather versatile field because it reaches out to so many lucrative industries, such as petroleum, pharmaceutical, semi-conductor, consumer goods/personal care, and don't forget the traditional chemical industry. Landing an industrial research job as a ChemE PhD is relatively easy compared to most other engineering disciplines, and they get the paid well (typically start with $100,000). Some top ChemE PhDs also go to academia or consulting, but those fields are significantly more competitive.

The problem with ChemE PhDs, as well as other type of engineering PhDs for that matter (I generalize quite a bit here), is their careers level off at the research/technical side unless they advance into the executive rank, at which engineering PhDs hold no advantage over MBA, MS or even BS. From a pure money perspective, IP law is more lucrative if one can make into big IP firms.




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