IP Law & Science UG - Fad or Forever?

(On Campus Interviews, Summer Associate positions, Firm Reviews, Tips, ...)
Forum rules
Anonymous Posting

Anonymous posting is only appropriate when you are revealing sensitive employment related information about a firm, job, etc. You may anonymously respond on topic to these threads. Unacceptable uses include: harassing another user, joking around, testing the feature, or other things that are more appropriate in the lounge.

Failure to follow these rules will get you outed, warned, or banned.
LittleMM
Posts: 23
Joined: Fri Jun 01, 2012 9:23 pm

IP Law & Science UG - Fad or Forever?

Postby LittleMM » Fri Jul 13, 2012 6:54 pm

I had an interesting conversation with a friend of mine this afternoon who is pursuing a masters in electrical engineering at Stanford. She originally wanted to continue on to get her PhD, but has heard from other law students such as myself about how amazing her job prospects would be in law, if she went to law school. Some people have told her that her job will be guaranteed, and her salary would be double what it would be with a PhD. I didn't expect this, but now she is considering it. She has no educational debt so far (I'm jealous), and is open to making the investment, if it would pay off, and she is gaining an interest with regard to where her degrees might intersect with the law. (I did tell her that with no interest in the law, law school might be hell to go through for three years and not even worth it, but she now says she believes she would really like it.)

Today, she asked me whether, if she graduated four years from now, those prospects would still be as strong as she hears they are today. I.e., where the market will be at for IP lawyers. I don't really understand or know industry trends, and I thought, why not throw this question out there and see what people know/think?

If this were your friend - would you advise her to give it a go?

User avatar
dowu
Posts: 8334
Joined: Wed Mar 28, 2012 9:47 pm

Re: IP Law & Science UG - Fad or Forever?

Postby dowu » Fri Jul 13, 2012 6:58 pm

LittleMM wrote:I had an interesting conversation with a friend of mine this afternoon who is pursuing a masters in electrical engineering at Stanford. She originally wanted to continue on to get her PhD, but has heard from other law students such as myself about how amazing her job prospects would be in law, if she went to law school. Some people have told her that her job will be guaranteed, and her salary would be double what it would be with a PhD. I didn't expect this, but now she is considering it. She has no educational debt so far (I'm jealous), and is open to making the investment, if it would pay off, and she is gaining an interest with regard to where her degrees might intersect with the law. (I did tell her that with no interest in the law, law school might be hell to go through for three years and not even worth it, but she now says she believes she would really like it.)

Today, she asked me whether, if she graduated four years from now, those prospects would still be as strong as she hears they are today. I.e., where the market will be at for IP lawyers. I don't really understand or know industry trends, and I thought, why not throw this question out there and see what people know/think?

If this were your friend - would you advise her to give it a go?


Based on what I have read, and anecdotally from what Ken has said, the IP field is lacking hardcore when it comes to IP lawyers. So I would think it would be a good idea for your friend to finish up at Stanford and then head to law school. Sure, there are other factors that will be relevant to her decision, but in her case, I think a JD would benefit her ($ wise) more than a PhD would.

Anonymous User
Posts: 273479
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: IP Law & Science UG - Fad or Forever?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Jul 13, 2012 7:12 pm

I would tell her to take the LSAT and see if her scores are good enough for at least a top 25 or top regional school.
If so (she sounds smart enough to do so), then she will likely be fine doing IP law. Attend schools below that and things start to get iffy based on her rank at the law school though they will still generally be favorable. Bonus points to her for being in Cali where a patent office is opening up.

Please do remind her of the opportunity cost of attending law school.
Stanford MSEE + URM (female) = Nearly guaranteed 60-80k engineering job. Let's use 70k for calculations.
Law school = ~50k tuition per year

3 yrs times ($70k missing income/year + $50k tuition/year)= $360k opportunity cost.

Me: BSEE, rising 2L @ T25. Got a biglaw gig for my first summer. About median at my school. Gave up $70k/year, 40hr/week job for this.

r6_philly
Posts: 10707
Joined: Sat Dec 19, 2009 4:32 pm

Re: IP Law & Science UG - Fad or Forever?

Postby r6_philly » Fri Jul 13, 2012 7:14 pm

I am not sure if a top EE PhD is that far behind a law degree. I mean you can probably land a great job with a great company where you make good money and have a relaxing life. Depending on the law school she gets into and what kind of firm she lands, it may not really be an "upgrade" if she doesn't like to actually practice law. So I think the decision should be based on whether or not she is interested in being a lawyer, not whether or not a JD is better than a EE PhD.

User avatar
fatduck
Posts: 4186
Joined: Mon Sep 13, 2010 10:16 pm

Re: IP Law & Science UG - Fad or Forever?

Postby fatduck » Fri Jul 13, 2012 7:17 pm

TCR is probably to work in engineering for at least a couple years (whether after masters or phd). law school will always be there. if IP is a "fad" (sort of unimaginable, but whatever), it's not really gonna help to graduate from law school 3 years from now, as opposed to 5 or 7.

clintone88
Posts: 117
Joined: Tue Apr 20, 2010 11:10 am

Re: IP Law & Science UG - Fad or Forever?

Postby clintone88 » Fri Jul 13, 2012 7:41 pm

I doubt that IP employment for MSEE from Stanford will be tough any time soon as long as she goes to a decent school in an EE market. But engineering employment for an MSEE from Stanford is also not tough at all.

I don't think she should get a JD purely because of the money/job prospects. It isn't like making $80k a year puts you in an uncomfortable position. Plus, the lifestyle of an engineer is usually considerably more relaxed than that of a biglaw attorney.

I chose law over EE because I didn't really like doing engineering work, and I had experience with patent pros and thought it was a lot more enjoyable. I'm not sure that I think you necessarily need to think you will like "being a lawyer" do to prosecution work though. Prosecution isn't really like a 0L's idea of being a lawyer, that's why a lot of pros boutiques feel like nerdy engineering firms. But it is still very different from engineering.

acrossthelake
Posts: 4431
Joined: Sat May 16, 2009 5:27 pm

Re: IP Law & Science UG - Fad or Forever?

Postby acrossthelake » Fri Jul 13, 2012 7:54 pm

There's a fairly vast difference between the career she'd have with a PhD in EE compared with being a lawyer and it's not one where the speculative difference in money should remotely make the call.

Who knows re: the legal market, specifically the IP market, in 4 years. The economy is unstable on a global level and the legal market could easily plunge again. If you asked someone in 2006 if they thought about any financial-sector of law(other than Bankruptcy lawl) was going to be hot in 2008 they probably would've said yes, but that's obviously not how it worked out. In general, even in IP, they're experiencing pressure from their clients to charge less and it's going to be interesting to see how they weather that.

LittleMM
Posts: 23
Joined: Fri Jun 01, 2012 9:23 pm

Re: IP Law & Science UG - Fad or Forever?

Postby LittleMM » Fri Jul 13, 2012 8:39 pm

Yeah - I am certainly afraid that this notion of the six-figure salary has gotten stuck in her head. I think what has happened is that she sees her UG classmates as SAs making in three months what she will make in six (she graduated from Princeton before coming to Stanford, so you can imagine). But she doesn't see them when they are miserable in that month before finals, or see the stress of getting those jobs, and knows nothing about law practice (though, who really does before actually doing it anyway?).

A lot of these law students are telling her that she could make more than them if she went for it (and it's sounding like they may be right, from what y'all are saying) - that is why I'm guessing she doesn't want to work first, think about it, and apply later. Money isn't everything, but I think it's influencing her a lot right now. I know nothing about engineering, but it sounds like she would have a pretty great deal just doing what she has planned. Too bad she's beginning to not see it that way. :?

r6_philly
Posts: 10707
Joined: Sat Dec 19, 2009 4:32 pm

Re: IP Law & Science UG - Fad or Forever?

Postby r6_philly » Fri Jul 13, 2012 8:49 pm

LittleMM wrote:Yeah - I am certainly afraid that this notion of the six-figure salary has gotten stuck in her head. I think what has happened is that she sees her UG classmates as SAs making in three months what she will make in six (she graduated from Princeton before coming to Stanford, so you can imagine). But she doesn't see them when they are miserable in that month before finals, or see the stress of getting those jobs, and knows nothing about law practice (though, who really does before actually doing it anyway?).


Honestly, the stress isn't that bad, although you do have to work hard, and you have less control of your hours. The money is real nice. But still, you would have to like (at least be indifferent) what you do to work hard most of the time. The money will keep you there, but you may be miserable. So she needs to decide whether she can really stand the work.

Go on lexis/westlaw, send her some EE cases/motions/briefs and patents and see if she has any interest pouring over those things 10-12 hours a day.

Anonymous User
Posts: 273479
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: IP Law & Science UG - Fad or Forever?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Jul 13, 2012 10:05 pm

LittleMM wrote:I had an interesting conversation with a friend of mine this afternoon who is pursuing a masters in electrical engineering at Stanford. She originally wanted to continue on to get her PhD, but has heard from other law students such as myself about how amazing her job prospects would be in law, if she went to law school. Some people have told her that her job will be guaranteed, and her salary would be double what it would be with a PhD. I didn't expect this, but now she is considering it. She has no educational debt so far (I'm jealous), and is open to making the investment, if it would pay off, and she is gaining an interest with regard to where her degrees might intersect with the law. (I did tell her that with no interest in the law, law school might be hell to go through for three years and not even worth it, but she now says she believes she would really like it.)

Today, she asked me whether, if she graduated four years from now, those prospects would still be as strong as she hears they are today. I.e., where the market will be at for IP lawyers. I don't really understand or know industry trends, and I thought, why not throw this question out there and see what people know/think?

If this were your friend - would you advise her to give it a go?


I would advise her to take LSAT first and see what law school she could get into. Even a Stanford MSEE won't save a median at T3/T4.

No one knows what the world will be in four years. If she wants to go after the BigLaw money, that's great. But she should keep in mind that the IP-secure thing does not mean she will definitely get one. No one knows for sure until after the first semester of 2L.

People often say MSEE in a T30 is IP-secure That's probably true, "statistically". But statistics do not apply when it comes to your own personal case. Too many factors are involved. There are only two results: you get a BigLaw gig; or you don't.

If she chooses law, her life/future prospect will be uncertain until after the 2L OCI or until after the 1st semester of 2L. That's probably 2 years from now (if she applies this fall). She will have to live in a constant doubt of herself for at least two years if things are going well.

The worst is, while she is struggling with the LSAT, applications, finals, grades, OCI, mass mailings, her MSEE classmates are probably enjoying their life with their stock options. If she gets a BigLaw gig, the struggle might be worth it.

If she somehow misses the BigLaw gig and $160k salary, it's really hard to justify the law school investment and it will be difficult for her to go back to the EE/CS industry. A patent prosecution gig in a small shop is a likely result. The pay is surely not $160k.

I don't know what to advise her of, except for taking the LSAT first. Her job prospects are not that rosy and certain as others depict.

By the way, maybe she should consider going to a top b-school and move on to Wall Street. They make much more money than IP lawyers and it seems easier for a Stanford MSEE to succeed there.

User avatar
rayiner
Posts: 6184
Joined: Thu Dec 11, 2008 11:43 am

Re: IP Law & Science UG - Fad or Forever?

Postby rayiner » Fri Jul 13, 2012 11:34 pm

I'll go across the grain on this one a little bit. Money is a perfectly good reason to leave engineering for law. In engineering, it's exceedingly likely you'll top out in the low $100k range working for some MBA who has no idea what you do but makes twice as much. Your hope of moving into upper-level management without leaving to get an MBA yourself makes partnership at S&C look like a sure bet. You can avoid the crushing bureaucracy by going to a startup, but then you'll have job stability that makes Latham attorneys cringe and they'll pay you less money in return for stock options that will get diluted the minute the company needs to raise money through some VC funding round. You can start your own company, but then you'll be working 90 hours a week for years without pay and health insurance until your company goes under and you have to return to a big corporate engineering job that at least covers your health insurance, that is until you hit your 50's and your skills get "out of date" and you have trouble getting work.

EDIT: ^^ Wall Street is a good option too, if you can get it and if you can deal with hours that make big law look like a lifestyle job.

User avatar
sky7
Posts: 248
Joined: Tue Dec 04, 2007 2:44 pm

Re: IP Law & Science UG - Fad or Forever?

Postby sky7 » Fri Jul 13, 2012 11:48 pm

Im working at a top boutique - Stanford EE + law degree from pretty much anywhere and she will make a great living. She will be fine.

lukertin
Posts: 775
Joined: Tue Jun 19, 2012 7:16 am

Re: IP Law & Science UG - Fad or Forever?

Postby lukertin » Fri Jul 13, 2012 11:51 pm

sup rayiner my dad is still EE'ing and works from home 50% of the time and he is like "well i'm basically job secure until I decide to retire because I'm native mandarin speaker gg" (they send him overseas twice a year to negotiate / secure manufacturing contracts)

Anonymous User wrote:If she somehow misses the BigLaw gig and $160k salary, it's really hard to justify the law school investment and it will be difficult for her to go back to the EE/CS industry. A patent prosecution gig in a small shop is a likely result. The pay is surely not $160k.

Yea it's like $120k and you work a max of like 50hrs a week. Oh the downsides. :roll:

sbalive
Posts: 399
Joined: Sun Dec 28, 2008 1:05 pm

Re: IP Law & Science UG - Fad or Forever?

Postby sbalive » Sat Jul 14, 2012 12:06 am

lukertin wrote:sup rayiner my dad is still EE'ing and works from home 50% of the time and he is like "well i'm basically job secure until I decide to retire because I'm native mandarin speaker gg" (they send him overseas twice a year to negotiate / secure manufacturing contracts)

Anonymous User wrote:If she somehow misses the BigLaw gig and $160k salary, it's really hard to justify the law school investment and it will be difficult for her to go back to the EE/CS industry. A patent prosecution gig in a small shop is a likely result. The pay is surely not $160k.

Yea it's like $120k and you work a max of like 50hrs a week. Oh the downsides. :roll:


There are also plenty of anecdotes of people not working that hard and raking in money -- especially from guys in their 50s. Not surprisingly, times have changed, both in Engineering, and in La. Generally, it's extremely hard to find a job in Engineering that pays $120K and up & doesn't involve insane hours. Not to mention that just getting into the good gigs -- high opportunity startups, Google, etc., is a lot like BigLaw -- achievable from a set of top schools, unattainable from a bunch more (except that grades do matter more).

That said, you should have a really good sense of what working as a lawyer is like before diving into law school AND what it's like to work as an engineer. I don't know that you need to actually work like a lawyer, but you need to sit down with friends and family, working in law at the same level & doing the same kinds of thing that you'll be doing, and really assimilate their experience before you can make a wise decision.

ats2013
Posts: 2
Joined: Mon Feb 23, 2009 1:59 pm

Re: IP Law & Science UG - Fad or Forever?

Postby ats2013 » Sat Jul 14, 2012 12:09 am

There are a lot of questions in here.

1. Should she get a PhD? The only reason there is to get a PhD is if you want a teaching job and would not do anything else. Given that she is even thinking about law, she probably should not do this.

2. Has she worked as an engineer for 2 - 3 years? Also, does she do software? The opportunities in software for advancement as an engineer are really good, especially someone with Princeton and Stanford on their resume. An MBA would not be required to work at any level. If she doesn't want to work at a startup, there is a lot to like about Apple and Google.

If after working for 2 - 3 years she decides that neither technology nor business is for her, the law will still be there. It is relatively unlikely that job prospects for an EE in law will diminish anytime soon due to fundamental supply and demand; not enough EEs in general and those with that background usually don't want to work in the law. If she has worked and knows she doesn't like it, she could go for law or an MBA program. The extra 2-3 years will help her get the most out of law school and will give her a significant advantage when interviewing.

Honestly, it sounds like she has school fatigue. If so, the worst thing she could do is sign up for another 3 years without some kind of break.

User avatar
rayiner
Posts: 6184
Joined: Thu Dec 11, 2008 11:43 am

Re: IP Law & Science UG - Fad or Forever?

Postby rayiner » Sat Jul 14, 2012 1:20 am

lukertin wrote:sup rayiner my dad is still EE'ing and works from home 50% of the time and he is like "well i'm basically job secure until I decide to retire because I'm native mandarin speaker gg" (they send him overseas twice a year to negotiate / secure manufacturing contracts)


To be fair, my dad traipses around the world bringing healthcare to people in Africa, while making very good money doing it. Does that mean you go into public health? No--to get these kinds of jobs these days you have to be an expert in public health by the time you finish your MD/PhD at Harvard. Theirs was a completely different era.

Also, re: Apple and Google... It's interesting to note that these companies have more revenues per employee than Goldman Sachs, but pay out a fraction of the compensation. Fuck working hard to make a bunch of shareholders rich. I'd much rather work hard to make some partner rich--at least at the end of the day he's a lawyer too, who does legal work the same as you. As I said above, you have a much better shot at getting real, meaningful equity in Sullivan & Cromwell than you do of getting it in Apple or Google.

lukertin
Posts: 775
Joined: Tue Jun 19, 2012 7:16 am

Re: IP Law & Science UG - Fad or Forever?

Postby lukertin » Sat Jul 14, 2012 1:29 am

rayiner wrote:To be fair, my dad traipses around the world bringing healthcare to people in Africa, while making very good money doing it. Does that mean you go into public health? No--to get these kinds of jobs these days you have to be an expert in public health by the time you finish your MD/PhD at Harvard. Theirs was a completely different era.

brb switching careers

Anonymous User
Posts: 273479
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: IP Law & Science UG - Fad or Forever?

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Jul 14, 2012 2:18 am

IP will be gone in 4 years. Since the U.S. is in such grave debt to the Chinese government, the Red Army will take over and abolish intellectual property by 2016, if not earlier, provided that either Obama is reelected or Mitt Romney is elected.

But seriously, no I don't think it's disappearing anytime soon. In fact, software is getting ever more sophisticated and expensive, and so is The Pirate Bay, so I could see software and other computer patents getting hotter and hotter. The smartphone industry alone is about to explode as the also-rans gain on the iphone, and all smartphones gain on the PC.

Also, consider that few engineering jobs cannot be outsourced to India or China. IP litigation, however, cannot be fully outsourced. I am sure Stanford engineering grads will always have jobs, but still, outsourcing is something to consider as far as salaries, etc.

EDIT: Perseus_II, did not mean for that to be anon.

User avatar
yuzu
Posts: 144
Joined: Wed Feb 25, 2009 9:08 pm

Re: IP Law & Science UG - Fad or Forever?

Postby yuzu » Sat Jul 14, 2012 2:47 pm

The market for EEs may not always be as good as it is today, but I think you'd be hard-pressed to argue that someone in her position would have a difficult time finding a job 5 years from now. Given Princeton/Stanford she is likely to go to a very good law school, so she will be in demand.

The real question is whether she'll enjoy biglaw work vs. engineering work. She should be talking with attorneys at big firms and getting an understanding of the life there. There are also probably options open to her (e.g. technical expert or patent agent at law firm or NPE) that would give her a taste of patent work without the commitment of law school.

Finally, I think working in engineering for a while is a good experience even if she decides to go to law school.

And what are "amazing" job prospects anyway? Getting the job may be a bit easier, but you're still on essentially the same lockstep salary/billing scale as every other biglaw associate. There is less risk but not necessarily greater returns.

User avatar
rayiner
Posts: 6184
Joined: Thu Dec 11, 2008 11:43 am

Re: IP Law & Science UG - Fad or Forever?

Postby rayiner » Sat Jul 14, 2012 3:49 pm

yuzu wrote:And what are "amazing" job prospects anyway? Getting the job may be a bit easier, but you're still on essentially the same lockstep salary/billing scale as every other biglaw associate. There is less risk but not necessarily greater returns.


Lateral prospects for IP folks are also greater. There are also a lot more boutique firms that make more partners, and big firms who are still building out their practice groups and more likely to make partners. Also a higher demand for IP folks in-house relative to supply.

LittleMM
Posts: 23
Joined: Fri Jun 01, 2012 9:23 pm

Re: IP Law & Science UG - Fad or Forever?

Postby LittleMM » Sat Jul 14, 2012 4:51 pm

I'm not sure what she has been told from other law students besides myself about her job prospects, but some of her friends are at (in my opinion) impressive firms, so if she reaches for their status, I agree that she'll be making double what she might otherwise. She knows that her prospects without law school are stable, but some posters expressed this sentiment of being lower on the "food chain" as an engineer than someone with an MBA or JD, and that's the same sentiment she's developed. It seems like these projects they do at her school are complicated and she works really, really hard, and wants it to pay off more than it realistically will with just a MSEE. But - I told her that she might be able to find some Stanford/Princeton alumni at firms in IP right now who can speak with her about what things are really like in practice - I got that idea from one of the above posters, so thank you for that! I think she needs to speak with someone before she invests the time in studying for and taking the LSAT, and filling out law school applications, and all that. She seemed to agree.

She works on some pretty crazy projects. Not software to my knowledge, though all I know is that when she tries to explain what she does, I seriously don't comprehend it. Optimization, nodes, multipliers... I guess I get the demand for attorneys who understand what they're looking at with regard to a patent?

User avatar
fatduck
Posts: 4186
Joined: Mon Sep 13, 2010 10:16 pm

Re: IP Law & Science UG - Fad or Forever?

Postby fatduck » Sat Jul 14, 2012 8:43 pm

LittleMM wrote:She works on some pretty crazy projects. Not software to my knowledge, though all I know is that when she tries to explain what she does, I seriously don't comprehend it. Optimization, nodes, multipliers... I guess I get the demand for attorneys who understand what they're looking at with regard to a patent?

it's true, you can't get anything through the patent office these days without reversing the polarity

lukertin
Posts: 775
Joined: Tue Jun 19, 2012 7:16 am

Re: IP Law & Science UG - Fad or Forever?

Postby lukertin » Thu Jul 19, 2012 9:13 pm

fatduck wrote:
LittleMM wrote:She works on some pretty crazy projects. Not software to my knowledge, though all I know is that when she tries to explain what she does, I seriously don't comprehend it. Optimization, nodes, multipliers... I guess I get the demand for attorneys who understand what they're looking at with regard to a patent?

it's true, you can't get anything through the patent office these days without reversing the polarity

It's funny because when I worked at the patent office this attorney came in for an interview and argued that the prior art did this negative particle to positive substrate attraction thing, whereas the invention had a positive particle to negative substrate; the only thing was she doesn't know how to read because the prior art did in fact do positive particle to negative substrate.




Return to “Legal Employment”

Who is online

The online users are hidden on this forum.