*IP* Litigators: thoughts on a litigation career?

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SDviaVA
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*IP* Litigators: thoughts on a litigation career?

Postby SDviaVA » Wed Dec 04, 2013 2:49 pm

I am currently clerking for a state trial judge and I am considering a career in litigation. But, I am interest to hear how litigators feel about litigation work.

How do you feel about your decision to go into litigation, as opposed to another area of the law like transactional work? If you had it to do over again would you make the same choices?

Do you feel like you are doing something worthwhile with your life or do you feel like you do more harm then good?

Do you generally like you clients and enjoy helping them or do you see them as bickering and get tired of trying to fix their problems?

Do you find the nature of the work exciting or boring?

Do you find the work load and schedule manageable and flexible or overwhelming and unrelenting?

Do you feel well compensated and like there is lots of room for advancement or under appreciated and stuck in a rut with no future?

Any other thoughts would be appreciated too. Thanks!

*** EDIT: comments have indicated that this topic is too broad, so I now asking about IP litigation, but I am also interested in general commerical or buisness law litigation***
Last edited by SDviaVA on Wed Dec 04, 2013 4:37 pm, edited 2 times in total.

SDviaVA
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Re: Litigators: what are your thoughts on a litigation carrier?

Postby SDviaVA » Wed Dec 04, 2013 3:30 pm

To touchy feely for TLS?

bdubs
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Re: Litigators: what are your thoughts on a litigation carrier?

Postby bdubs » Wed Dec 04, 2013 3:47 pm

Litigation is too broad of an area for general comments. Do you have any prospects for a job? Coming from a state trial court clerkship you may have to take what you can get.

SDviaVA
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Re: Litigators: what are your thoughts on a litigation carrier?

Postby SDviaVA » Wed Dec 04, 2013 3:48 pm

bdubs wrote:Litigation is too broad of an area for general comments. Do you have any prospects for a job? Coming from a state trial court clerkship you may have to take what you can get.


Ok thanks for the advice but its not really what i asked.

bdubs
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Re: Litigators: what are your thoughts on a litigation carrier?

Postby bdubs » Wed Dec 04, 2013 4:09 pm

SDviaVA wrote:
bdubs wrote:Litigation is too broad of an area for general comments. Do you have any prospects for a job? Coming from a state trial court clerkship you may have to take what you can get.


Ok thanks for the advice but its not really what i asked.


I enjoy doing complex commercial litigation but I would hate doing insurance defense. There are a huge number of types of litigation that vary quite a bit.

The elements of creativity in transactional law and litigation are pretty different. Transactional law has interesting elements, but it's largely about reconfiguring a template to fit the few unique aspects of a given situation. Litigation, as you should know, is about building a story from the facts within a set of rules. At the macro level I think it's about whether you prefer top down or bottom up although there are probably exceptions to both (transactions that are largely unique and litigation that is largely routine).

IMO lawyers run the show in litigation much more than clients. The client gets sued or screwed and that's outside of their wheelhouse so they come to the law firm to resolve it. The sticking points with clients are usually just about the bills that come at the end of the day. Most of them don't have strong affirmative stances on how you craft your case, except wrt their prerogative to settle or fight.

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ExBiglawAssociate
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Re: Litigators: what are your thoughts on a litigation career?

Postby ExBiglawAssociate » Wed Dec 04, 2013 4:21 pm

Your answers are going to vary wildly depending on the type of litigation. Do you have *any* idea of what kind of litigation you'd like to practice (or think you will be practicing)?

ipguy
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Re: Litigators: what are your thoughts on a litigation career?

Postby ipguy » Wed Dec 04, 2013 4:28 pm

He was right though this is only one step removed from "Do you like working as a lawyer"

Narrow it down some.

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sikemenow
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Re: Litigators: what are your thoughts on a litigation career?

Postby sikemenow » Wed Dec 04, 2013 5:10 pm

Biglaw_Associate_V20 wrote:Your answers are going to vary wildly depending on the type of litigation. Do you have *any* idea of what kind of litigation you'd like to practice (or think you will be practicing)?


I'll add to this. I'd be curious to hear answers to OP's same questions, except regarding energy litigation vs. upstream energy on the transactional side

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ExBiglawAssociate
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Re: *IP* Litigators: thoughts on a litigation career?

Postby ExBiglawAssociate » Wed Dec 04, 2013 5:45 pm

Okay, I see that you are clerking for a state trial judge and interested in IP litigation. Do you have a technical background of any kind? What are your grades/law school? Almost all IP litigation is handled by biglaw firms that won't hire you without high grades from a good law school or specialized boutiques who won't hire you without a tech background and/or prior experience in the field.

SDviaVA
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Re: *IP* Litigators: thoughts on a litigation career?

Postby SDviaVA » Wed Dec 04, 2013 6:00 pm

Biglaw_Associate_V20 wrote:Okay, I see that you are clerking for a state trial judge and interested in IP litigation. Do you have a technical background of any kind? What are your grades/law school? Almost all IP litigation is handled by biglaw firms that won't hire you without high grades from a good law school or specialized boutiques who won't hire you without a tech background and/or prior experience in the field.


My question is not "Can I get a job in IP litigation," it was "how do you like IP litigation." Let me worry about the first part....

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ExBiglawAssociate
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Re: *IP* Litigators: thoughts on a litigation career?

Postby ExBiglawAssociate » Wed Dec 04, 2013 6:01 pm

SDviaVA wrote:
Biglaw_Associate_V20 wrote:Okay, I see that you are clerking for a state trial judge and interested in IP litigation. Do you have a technical background of any kind? What are your grades/law school? Almost all IP litigation is handled by biglaw firms that won't hire you without high grades from a good law school or specialized boutiques who won't hire you without a tech background and/or prior experience in the field.


My question is not "Can I get a job in IP litigation," it was "how do you like IP litigation." Let me worry about the first part....


You seem like a 0L, and I don't respond to posts by 0Ls.

SDviaVA
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Re: *IP* Litigators: thoughts on a litigation career?

Postby SDviaVA » Wed Dec 04, 2013 6:26 pm

Biglaw_Associate_V20 wrote:
SDviaVA wrote:
Biglaw_Associate_V20 wrote:Okay, I see that you are clerking for a state trial judge and interested in IP litigation. Do you have a technical background of any kind? What are your grades/law school? Almost all IP litigation is handled by biglaw firms that won't hire you without high grades from a good law school or specialized boutiques who won't hire you without a tech background and/or prior experience in the field.


My question is not "Can I get a job in IP litigation," it was "how do you like IP litigation." Let me worry about the first part....


You seem like a 0L, and I don't respond to posts by 0Ls.


Ok....I am a 0L who clerks for a judge then I guess

I know you are dying to dish out your "you'll never make it in [insert area of law here] because you don’t have the [insert school rank/grades/experience here] advice but I have been on TLS long enough to take the advice of people like you with a grain of salt.

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ExBiglawAssociate
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Re: *IP* Litigators: thoughts on a litigation career?

Postby ExBiglawAssociate » Wed Dec 04, 2013 6:40 pm

This thread is like a 5' 6'' dude calling up Stephen Jackson to chat about the 5' 6'' dude's future in the NBA. It's fine for you to do it, but most people will probably have the same reaction that I'm having: what is the fucking point?

SDviaVA
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Re: *IP* Litigators: thoughts on a litigation career?

Postby SDviaVA » Wed Dec 04, 2013 6:53 pm

Biglaw_Associate_V20 wrote:This thread is like a 5' 6'' dude calling up Stephen Jackson to chat about the 5' 6'' dude's future in the NBA. It's fine for you to do it, but most people will probably have the same reaction that I'm having: what is the fucking point?


Yeah, since you’re so familiar with background and all....You may be "Biglaw Associate V20" at your firm, but on TLS you’re just another jerk off. In fact, I’d be willing to bet you are the 0L. What big law associate has time to spend his day on TLS?

Anonymous User
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Re: *IP* Litigators: thoughts on a litigation career?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Dec 04, 2013 7:34 pm

For the purpose of trying to be helpful...

I saw a fair amount of IP litigation work as a SA with a biglaw firm, and like anything else, it has its ups and downs.

If you are fighting a patent "aggregator" (troll), you can definitely feel like you are providing a real service. Likewise if you are involved in cutting edge tech patents that seem to promote innovation. Your cases are also heard in federal court 99.9% of the time (the only exception is the occasional state law trademark claim, but even those are usually litigated in fed court as part of a larger case). Most practitioners seem to think spending all your time before federal courts is generally rewarding.

But, as with anything else, there are also downsides. Claim construction in patent cases is particularly gruelling with parties arguing over the "meaning to one skilled in the art" for the definition of words like "part" or "combined." If a case goes to trial, there are other problems. Imagine preparing a case about a computer chip semiconductor patent to a jury pulled from ED Tex, where only 15% of the jury pool has a college degree.

I'd be happy to answer any specific questions you have if this isn't enough info.

SDviaVA
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Re: *IP* Litigators: thoughts on a litigation career?

Postby SDviaVA » Wed Dec 04, 2013 9:17 pm

Anonymous User wrote:For the purpose of trying to be helpful...

I saw a fair amount of IP litigation work as a SA with a biglaw firm, and like anything else, it has its ups and downs.

If you are fighting a patent "aggregator" (troll), you can definitely feel like you are providing a real service. Likewise if you are involved in cutting edge tech patents that seem to promote innovation. Your cases are also heard in federal court 99.9% of the time (the only exception is the occasional state law trademark claim, but even those are usually litigated in fed court as part of a larger case). Most practitioners seem to think spending all your time before federal courts is generally rewarding.

But, as with anything else, there are also downsides. Claim construction in patent cases is particularly gruelling with parties arguing over the "meaning to one skilled in the art" for the definition of words like "part" or "combined." If a case goes to trial, there are other problems. Imagine preparing a case about a computer chip semiconductor patent to a jury pulled from ED Tex, where only 15% of the jury pool has a college degree.

I'd be happy to answer any specific questions you have if this isn't enough info.



Thank you, finally someone with some useful information! How have you found the job market for IP litigators? Is it hard to break in? Once you have some experience can you move up quickly? Is the job market as saturated as other areas of the law?
Would you say it is more important for firms that you have a background in some tech field or that you be a skilled litigator? For instance would they rather hire a personal injury litigator and teach them the technology or hire a Ph.D and teach them to litigate?

Anonymous User
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Re: *IP* Litigators: thoughts on a litigation career?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Dec 04, 2013 9:46 pm

SDviaVA wrote:How have you found the job market for IP litigators?


It's relatively good compared to other litigation practices, but that could change if Congress clobbers patent troll litigation (and in the process screws up the pleading standard and discovery rules for everyone else). It really helps to have a tech degree. Just go to a site like bcgsearch.com and look at listings for IP litigators. Quite a few of the postings prefer or require technical backgrounds, usually in electrical engineering or computer science.

SDviaVA wrote:Is it hard to break in?


Yes.

SDviaVA wrote:Once you have some experience can you move up quickly?


It's very difficult to get clients and become a partner at any firm. Litigation practices generally have a lot more low-level lawyers doing all the grunt work than high-level lawyers interacting with clients and arguing before judges. IP litigation is no exception.

SDviaVA wrote:Is the job market as saturated as other areas of the law?


For people with tech backgrounds, no. For people without tech backgrounds, yes. There are plenty of PoliSci shitheads eager to get into patent litigation and only enough slots for them. Firms need people with technical acumen to draft invalidity and infringement contentions quickly and accurately. In my experience, people with technical backgrounds are much better at this. It's really not even close. There's a good reason firms prefer people with tech backgrounds (i.e., it's not all about pleasing the client as some people would suggest. In most cases the client doesn't give a fuck which associates are working on the case. They care about the *partners* who are working on the case.)

SDviaVA wrote:Would you say it is more important for firms that you have a background in some tech field or that you be a skilled litigator? For instance would they rather hire a personal injury litigator and teach them the technology or hire a Ph.D and teach them to litigate?


Both are important, but people with substantive litigation experience related to patent law have a leg up over anyone without such experience. A personal injury litigator would never be considered unless he/she has some very translatable trial experience that could be used (but this would be highly unlikely).

SDviaVA
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Re: *IP* Litigators: thoughts on a litigation career?

Postby SDviaVA » Wed Dec 04, 2013 9:57 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
SDviaVA wrote:How have you found the job market for IP litigators?


It's relatively good compared to other litigation practices, but that could change if Congress clobbers patent troll litigation (and in the process screws up the pleading standard and discovery rules for everyone else). It really helps to have a tech degree. Just go to a site like bcgsearch.com and look at listings for IP litigators. Quite a few of the postings prefer or require technical backgrounds, usually in electrical engineering or computer science.

SDviaVA wrote:Is it hard to break in?


Yes.

SDviaVA wrote:Once you have some experience can you move up quickly?


It's very difficult to get clients and become a partner at any firm. Litigation practices generally have a lot more low-level lawyers doing all the grunt work than high-level lawyers interacting with clients and arguing before judges. IP litigation is no exception.

SDviaVA wrote:Is the job market as saturated as other areas of the law?


For people with tech backgrounds, no. For people without tech backgrounds, yes. There are plenty of PoliSci shitheads eager to get into patent litigation and only enough slots for them. Firms need people with technical acumen to draft invalidity and infringement contentions quickly and accurately. In my experience, people with technical backgrounds are much better at this. It's really not even close. There's a good reason firms prefer people with tech backgrounds (i.e., it's not all about pleasing the client as some people would suggest. In most cases the client doesn't give a fuck which associates are working on the case. They care about the *partners* who are working on the case.)

SDviaVA wrote:Would you say it is more important for firms that you have a background in some tech field or that you be a skilled litigator? For instance would they rather hire a personal injury litigator and teach them the technology or hire a Ph.D and teach them to litigate?


Both are important, but people with substantive litigation experience related to patent law have a leg up over anyone without such experience. A personal injury litigator would never be considered unless he/she has some very translatable trial experience that could be used (but this would be highly unlikely).



How is the job market for someone with a biology degree? I have a B.S. in biotechnology and did 1 year in a Cell and Molecular Biology Master’s program. I also have 5 years of experience working in “on the bench” in biotech, mostly in manufacturing environments in areas like protein purification, fermentation and medical devices. Would this be enough to break in? Is there a demand for people with bio backgrounds?

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Big Shrimpin
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Re: *IP* Litigators: thoughts on a litigation career?

Postby Big Shrimpin » Wed Dec 04, 2013 10:01 pm

SDviaVA wrote:I am currently clerking for a state trial judge and I am considering a career in litigation. But, I am interest to hear how litigators feel about litigation work.

How do you feel about your decision to go into litigation, as opposed to another area of the law like transactional work? If you had it to do over again would you make the same choices?

Didn't have a choice, except prosecution.

Do you feel like you are doing something worthwhile with your life or do you feel like you do more harm then good?

No opinion either way. Getting great experience though.

Do you generally like you clients and enjoy helping them or do you see them as bickering and get tired of trying to fix their problems?

Both.

Do you find the nature of the work exciting or boring?

Both.

Do you find the work load and schedule manageable and flexible or overwhelming and unrelenting?

Depends. I was super busy for a year but have billed like 70 hours in the past month.

Do you feel well compensated and like there is lots of room for advancement or under appreciated and stuck in a rut with no future?

Biglaw pay but too junior to tell about the future.

Any other thoughts would be appreciated too. Thanks!

*** EDIT: comments have indicated that this topic is too broad, so I now asking about IP litigation, but I am also interested in general commerical or buisness law litigation***


Eta I'm a patent litigator.

Anonymous User
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Re: *IP* Litigators: thoughts on a litigation career?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Dec 04, 2013 10:09 pm

SDviaVA wrote:How is the job market for someone with a biology degree? I have a B.S. in biotechnology and did 1 year in a Cell and Molecular Biology Master’s program. I also have 5 years of experience working in “on the bench” in biotech, mostly in manufacturing environments in areas like protein purification, fermentation and medical devices. Would this be enough to break in? Is there a demand for people with bio backgrounds?


Most of the listings I've seen looking for bio people (both on the prosecution and litigation sides) are looking for an MS or PhD, but I know people doing IP lit with only a bio bachelors. It's certainly better than a political science degree. It's all going to come down to your law school and your grades. If you get into a very good law school and get very good grades, you could break in. If not, it's highly unlikely.

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glitched
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Re: *IP* Litigators: thoughts on a litigation career?

Postby glitched » Thu Dec 05, 2013 12:37 am

Anonymous User wrote:
SDviaVA wrote:How is the job market for someone with a biology degree? I have a B.S. in biotechnology and did 1 year in a Cell and Molecular Biology Master’s program. I also have 5 years of experience working in “on the bench” in biotech, mostly in manufacturing environments in areas like protein purification, fermentation and medical devices. Would this be enough to break in? Is there a demand for people with bio backgrounds?


Most of the listings I've seen looking for bio people (both on the prosecution and litigation sides) are looking for an MS or PhD, but I know people doing IP lit with only a bio bachelors. It's certainly better than a political science degree. It's all going to come down to your law school and your grades. If you get into a very good law school and get very good grades, you could break in. If not, it's highly unlikely.


You're talking about ip lit in high-tech though right? With a bioengineering degree, OP's chances at a life sciences, or medical device, ip lit firm might be pretty good. As with any other 160k job though, OP would of course still need to go to decent school with decent grades (instead of very good school with very good grades). This all assumes that OP doesn't exclusively want high tech ip lit.

Side issue might be whether there is greater demand for life sciences ip lit than general lit making the biotech background an advantage for general chances in finding a job.

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Re: *IP* Litigators: thoughts on a litigation career?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Dec 09, 2013 12:04 am

What about soft IP lit?
What's the market like?

I think for a junior associate, patent litigation is pretty boring in that it's harder to reach "legal" merits. A lot of time and money are spent on discovery and tech aspects. I feel less like a lawyer. But I'm only a 1st year.




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