Applied Physics major: Employable as Patent Attorney??

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makintos60244

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Applied Physics major: Employable as Patent Attorney??

Postby makintos60244 » Sun Mar 11, 2018 12:39 pm

I'm currently at a top 5 engineering school as an Applied Physics major with a 4.0 . I'm kind of kicking myself for not choosing something more in-demand like EE or CS, but it's too late to switch and I'll be taking the LSAT in June and applying next cycle. I took a diagnostic LSAT with Kaplan under testing conditions (timed, with an experimental, etc) and scored a 170, This was after extensive practice, so I don't anticipate doing much better / worse on the real thing (maybe 168-172).

Before I commit to law school, I'm wondering how difficult it would be to sell an Applied Physics bachelors to Biglaw employers? Should I simply target general practice areas or would applying for patent positions be better? Since most of the prosecution work is in EE/CS, should I try to sell myself as a good candidate for litigation (Physics majors are analytical, able to digest a wide range of complex technologies and explain them to a jury, etc)? But I also see many posters state in vague terms that it's much harder to get hired for lit than pros (can anyone help me understand why and how much harder?) I'm also interning with a solo patent lawyer this summer and he expressed interest in sending me part-time work long-term, so by the time I graduate law school I'll also have a few years of part-time prosecution experience. Even so, is not having an EE/CS degree such a hurdle that patent law is unrealistic? Should I go so far as get a Masters in EE/CS to increase my chances of getting a job?

makintos60244

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Re: Applied Physics major: Employable as Patent Attorney??

Postby makintos60244 » Mon Mar 12, 2018 9:34 pm

bump.. would really appreciate any insight!

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trmckenz

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Re: Applied Physics major: Employable as Patent Attorney??

Postby trmckenz » Mon Mar 12, 2018 10:38 pm

I'm not a patent attorney, but I worked as an EE patent agent in biglaw for four years. Though I am only a 1L, I have interviewed countless candidates, including attorneys. In many instances, I was the first cut of resumes.

You're right in that physics degrees are not as in demand as EE. That being said, I have worked alongside physics majors on EE work at multiple firms. I have also seen physics majors work on software, mechanical devices, materials and compounds, etc. I've seen them do prosecution, litigation, and transactional work. An undergrad degree in physics can be a Swiss Army knife similar to that as an EE. It will not hold you back, assuming your degree fits the requirements of the USPTO with respect to patent bar eligibility.

As general advice, you definitely will have better luck targeting patent groups in biglaw or IP firms. Only like 10% (don't quote me on the exact number) of law students are even eligible to do patent work, let alone to practice patent law. The combination of less competition and high demand for patent work puts you in a good position for getting hired. That being said, you could also look at non-IP groups. Getting hired outside of IP is more based on your law school performance. Your undergrad degree will play a less significant role outside IP.

You do not need more school. You're at a "top 5 engineering school" already with a killer GPA. You've set yourself up nicely for law school admissions, which in turn correlates to law firm hiring. Again, you will not be hindered in any way just because you don't have an EE degree. You can crack it. Just show an interest in patents/IP, and the technologies that you want to work with. I know it sounds simple, but really focus on making your resume less "sciencey" and more lawyer-like. That will help you break the mold of "physics majors are just pure scientists." Being a good writer/communicator is really important.

You might have an easier time being hired into IP groups of general practice firms. IP boutiques can be pretty "techy" and may discriminate a bit more when it comes to undergrad specialty. The choice between prosecution and litigation is firm and group-dependent, but you can sort that out later.

The world is your oyster my friend. Study hard on the LSAT and you'll get what you want. Good luck - I hope this is the encouragement you want.

Spartan_Alum_12

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Re: Applied Physics major: Employable as Patent Attorney??

Postby Spartan_Alum_12 » Tue Mar 13, 2018 3:01 pm

trmckenz wrote:I'm not a patent attorney, but I worked as an EE patent agent in biglaw for four years. Though I am only a 1L, I have interviewed countless candidates, including attorneys. In many instances, I was the first cut of resumes.

You're right in that physics degrees are not as in demand as EE. That being said, I have worked alongside physics majors on EE work at multiple firms. I have also seen physics majors work on software, mechanical devices, materials and compounds, etc. I've seen them do prosecution, litigation, and transactional work. An undergrad degree in physics can be a Swiss Army knife similar to that as an EE. It will not hold you back, assuming your degree fits the requirements of the USPTO with respect to patent bar eligibility.

As general advice, you definitely will have better luck targeting patent groups in biglaw or IP firms. Only like 10% (don't quote me on the exact number) of law students are even eligible to do patent work, let alone to practice patent law. The combination of less competition and high demand for patent work puts you in a good position for getting hired. That being said, you could also look at non-IP groups. Getting hired outside of IP is more based on your law school performance. Your undergrad degree will play a less significant role outside IP.

You do not need more school. You're at a "top 5 engineering school" already with a killer GPA. You've set yourself up nicely for law school admissions, which in turn correlates to law firm hiring. Again, you will not be hindered in any way just because you don't have an EE degree. You can crack it. Just show an interest in patents/IP, and the technologies that you want to work with. I know it sounds simple, but really focus on making your resume less "sciencey" and more lawyer-like. That will help you break the mold of "physics majors are just pure scientists." Being a good writer/communicator is really important.

You might have an easier time being hired into IP groups of general practice firms. IP boutiques can be pretty "techy" and may discriminate a bit more when it comes to undergrad specialty. The choice between prosecution and litigation is firm and group-dependent, but you can sort that out later.

The world is your oyster my friend. Study hard on the LSAT and you'll get what you want. Good luck - I hope this is the encouragement you want.


I'm a patent attorney with an EE degree and completely agree with this. Considering you will likely end up at a very good law school with a 4.0 in physics, you will be very competitive in big law (lit and pros). Sure, a few firms (mostly boutiques as noted above) may hire exclusively EEs, but you will be fine with your current background. Forget the masters in EE unless it's something you want to do. Don't do it for marketability purposes.

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glitched

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Re: Applied Physics major: Employable as Patent Attorney??

Postby glitched » Tue Mar 13, 2018 3:58 pm

makintos60244 wrote:I'm currently at a top 5 engineering school as an Applied Physics major with a 4.0 . I'm kind of kicking myself for not choosing something more in-demand like EE or CS, but it's too late to switch and I'll be taking the LSAT in June and applying next cycle. I took a diagnostic LSAT with Kaplan under testing conditions (timed, with an experimental, etc) and scored a 170, This was after extensive practice, so I don't anticipate doing much better / worse on the real thing (maybe 168-172).

Before I commit to law school, I'm wondering how difficult it would be to sell an Applied Physics bachelors to Biglaw employers? Should I simply target general practice areas or would applying for patent positions be better? Since most of the prosecution work is in EE/CS, should I try to sell myself as a good candidate for litigation (Physics majors are analytical, able to digest a wide range of complex technologies and explain them to a jury, etc)? But I also see many posters state in vague terms that it's much harder to get hired for lit than pros (can anyone help me understand why and how much harder?) I'm also interning with a solo patent lawyer this summer and he expressed interest in sending me part-time work long-term, so by the time I graduate law school I'll also have a few years of part-time prosecution experience. Even so, is not having an EE/CS degree such a hurdle that patent law is unrealistic? Should I go so far as get a Masters in EE/CS to increase my chances of getting a job?


Honestly, I wouldn't go to law school. I'm a patent litigator with a bio degree in the best case scenario and it's just not worth it. So many people told me this before I went to law school, and I didn't listen, and I'm sure you won't either. If you're gonna go, unless you come from a lot of money, I'd make sure you go to the best law school you can go for free. Instead of spending three years studying law, why not spend that time studying CS or anything else? Do a post-bach and go into medicine where you'll at least know what your career will look like when you're 35.



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