circle.the.wagons wrote:Are there any biglaw patent guys here? The other posters seemed like they were in smaller firms. What kind of work should a patent guy expect right out of school (mainly pros or something else?) and what's a normal day look like? Thanks.
I'm suuuuuuper late to the party, but in case this is still helpful:
What kind of patent work you do right out of law school really depends on your background. In theory you can get into any of a pros, lit, or transactions group out of law school, so long as you tailor your summer experiences accordingly. They are all extremely different and you should definitely learn more about what makes them different before you commit to any particular path.
I can only personally speak to patent pros in terms of a normal day. My day in patent pros (NYC Biglaw) was generally get to work by 9, leave by 8 if I was efficient (later if I slacked off or fraternized with the rest of the group at any time during the day). Whether or not pros biglaw is a 9-6 job for you or not is probably largely going to depend on whether you get lucky enough to get tasked on the big budget clients or not. I was considered efficient so I was unfortunately not so lucky; I was put on a lot of low-budget clients, which meant I essentially lost 3-4 hours per day to the budget (my firm did not take kindly to "it's the partner's job to cut hours if necessary" philosophy).
There were days where I would do 2 OARs at ~4 hours each, which I'd have to round down to ~3 hours each because of my (ridiculously high) billing rate compared to the (ridiculously low) fixed budget; so out of the 8 hours I spent on the OARs, only 6 counted. Time to spend at least another 3-4 hours in the office on another OAR. Some clients would only pay for less than an hour of my time for IDSes, so even if I had a 20-page IDS to review (I couldn't prep them but I still obviously reviewed what my assistant did) I ate that time; there goes another half hour or more. Sometimes clients want $10k-caliber applications for $5k and sometimes you get a partner who doesn't have the backbone to tell them no (or who doesn't understand how long it takes to do substantive work anymore) and complains at you when you submit time over the $5k; you just lost maybe 10 hours for the month. On days where you're doing work for a client who pays their bills without complaint/has fixed fees that are reasonable, it's much better (9-7 even with slacking). Then if you do OARs for them you get to bill however long it actually takes, and move on.
My colleagues in patent lit would regularly spend 12-14 hours a day in the office, longer if something big was going on, so while I'd complain about my hours, they're still better than lit. I don't know the typical hours for the transactions team.