Large IP boutiques

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Large IP boutiques

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Apr 09, 2012 8:27 pm

Does the consensus about the quality of the life for biglaw associates apply to the large IP boutiques like Fish & Richardson (~350 att'ys) or Fitzpatrick (~175 att'ys), to name a few?

I am less concerned about the amount of work, than about the quality of work. I expect to work hard anywhere I go, but I'd hate to wake up one day three years from now and realize that I still know little about "lawyering," whatever that may mean.

For example, one oft-mentioned "exit option" is to lateral to midlaw after a couple of years (the others are in-house or government work). But if I still want to litigate at a firm, why would a midlaw firm want me when, according to the conventional wisdom around here, my "litigation skills" after 3 years will be significantly inferior to their own 3-year associates'?

ETA: Anon because I posted in my school's thread and can very easily be identified that way. This question reflects some personal doubts about my long term career prospects.

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Re: Large IP boutiques

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Apr 09, 2012 9:26 pm

I worked at a large IP boutique in the 100-200 attorney range and the quality of life was nice. It was very common for the attorneys to take 3-day weekends. However, patent prosecutors had an easier time than litigators. Many of the patent litigators would eventually shift over to prosecution due to the easier lifestyle.

I doubt the quality of work would differ much. Patent prosecution is done at firms of all sizes, with some 10-attorney firms being ranked highly by a variety of quality metrics. I'm not sure about litigation, but I imagine it would be the same. Some of the most important patent cases over the last 10 years have been from IP boutiques. A lot of these IP firms are much larger than the entire IP departments at most general practice firms.

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Re: Large IP boutiques

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Apr 09, 2012 11:42 pm

I am working for one of these large IP boutiques.
Lifestyle varies by location and lit/pros.

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Re: Large IP boutiques

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Apr 09, 2012 11:57 pm

OP here. Thanks folks, but my concern is about the quality of the work for junior [litigation] associates. Does the IP "niche" translate into more substantive/interesting work for them compared to your typical biglaw commercial litigation juniors?

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Re: Large IP boutiques

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Apr 10, 2012 12:32 am

I suppose it depends on what your definition of quality is. After working for several years at two IP boutique firms ( one with >100 attorneys in a major city and one with 15-20 attorneys in a less-major city), I would say it widely depends. Based on what I have seen, if it is litigation experience you are looking for, at a larger firm you are more likely to spend time doing research or document review. My impression is that at a smaller firm you are more likely to spend time doing that plus drafting documents and maybe even taking depositions, so long as they have enough litigation work at the time. You can generally do patent prosecution from start to finish at either. It seemed to me that new associates got more responsibility in this regard at the larger firm, likely because partners didn't have as much incentive to micro-manage their clients. While patent prosecution doesn't seem to prepare you as obviously as other litigation practice, it does give you a chance to make written arguments (before the USPTO) and spend a lot of time interfacing with clients, which are valuable skills in any legal specialty. The attorneys I have known who left IP boutiques usually went in-house somewhere, either as general or IP counsel. FWIW, they all seemed exceptionally happy with the quality of work and level of responsibility at these second jobs, whether they started in litigation or prosecution.

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Re: Large IP boutiques

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Apr 10, 2012 12:42 am

I suppose it depends on what your definition of quality is.

After working for several years at two IP boutique firms ( one with >100 attorneys in a major city and one with 15-20 attorneys in a less-major city), I would say it widely depends. Based on what I have seen, if it is litigation experience you are looking for, at a larger firm you are more likely to spend time doing research or document review. My impression is that at a smaller firm you are more likely to spend time doing that plus drafting documents and maybe even taking depositions, so long as they have enough litigation work at the time. You can generally do patent prosecution from start to finish at either. It seemed to me that new associates got more responsibility in this regard at the larger firm, likely because partners didn't have as much incentive to micro-manage their clients.

While patent prosecution doesn't seem to prepare you as obviously as other litigation practice, it does give you a chance to make written arguments (before the USPTO) and spend a lot of time interfacing with clients, which are valuable skills in any legal specialty. The attorneys I have known who left IP boutiques usually went in-house somewhere, either as general or IP counsel. FWIW, they all seemed exceptionally happy with the quality of work and level of responsibility at these second jobs, whether they started in litigation or prosecution.

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Re: Large IP boutiques

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Apr 10, 2012 6:46 am

I did patent prosecution at a biglaw firm last summer (summer internship). The litigation associates told me that the prosecution lifestyle is much better than the litigation lifestyle. In general, both the prosecutors and the litigators seemed pretty happy.

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Re: Large IP boutiques

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Sep 04, 2012 9:24 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I did patent prosecution at a biglaw firm last summer (summer internship). The litigation associates told me that the prosecution lifestyle is much better than the litigation lifestyle. In general, both the prosecutors and the litigators seemed pretty happy.


I know this thread is a few months old but I'm hoping some of the above posters are still around. I am trying to pick between a GP firm where I'd be placed in an IP group that does mostly lit or an IP boutique where I'd have the chance to do half prosecution half lit for the summer. The catch with the boutique is that I get the feeling the majority of this particular office does prosecution and if I get a full-time offer, that's what I'll end up doing. My main question is if it's true that IP litigators are much more likely to become partner than prosecutors given the greater opportunity to bill. If it's true, is the increase in lifestyle for prosecution worth it?




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