Going to top law school vs. doing night program (IP Law)

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ollie22

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Going to top law school vs. doing night program (IP Law)

Postby ollie22 » Tue Oct 16, 2018 9:32 am

Many IP firms have a technology specialist -> patent attorney track, where they hire you out of an engineering school to work as a technology specialist assisting the patent attorneys, and pay for you to go to a part-time law program, eventually transitioning into becoming a patent attorney (prosecution) at the firm.

The downside to this is that there aren't many schools that offer a night program, and certainly not any of the top schools (I believe that Fordham has one in NY, Suffolk University in Boston, and many of the others are not in cities that such firms have offices in.)

My question is, does the law school choice matter if you are already guaranteed an associate position at the firm? Will it matter if you leave the firm to go elsewhere?

Is it better to pay for law school, and go to a T14 (Or even T5, if you have the grades) school, and then find a job as a patent attorney, or does it not matter? (I have heard that there are differences between prosecution and litigation, so assume prosecution.)

Thanks!

QContinuum

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Re: Going to top law school vs. doing night program (IP Law)

Postby QContinuum » Tue Oct 16, 2018 12:04 pm

Doing the night program is fine if you're sure you want to stay in patent prosecution. It'll be difficult to impossible to switch out and do something else - everything apart from prosecution cares strongly about law school prestige & grades. (Prosecution cares about prestige too, of course, but it cares primarily about grad school prestige (life sciences) or undergrad/WE prestige (engineering).)

Going to a T13 would certainly give you vastly more flexibility, which can be valuable. But you'll need to weigh that against your COA (and loans).

ollie22

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Re: Going to top law school vs. doing night program (IP Law)

Postby ollie22 » Tue Oct 16, 2018 5:43 pm

It'll be difficult to impossible to switch out and do something else - everything apart from prosecution cares strongly about law school prestige & grades.


Is this true even after a few years of working at a prestigious firm?

QContinuum

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Re: Going to top law school vs. doing night program (IP Law)

Postby QContinuum » Tue Oct 16, 2018 10:07 pm

ollie22 wrote:
It'll be difficult to impossible to switch out and do something else - everything apart from prosecution cares strongly about law school prestige & grades.


Is this true even after a few years of working at a prestigious firm?


Especially true after working for a few years - you're more or less locked into the legal area you start in, post-graduation (this is true of any area, not just prosecution).

You'll have the most flexibility you'll ever have to switch areas during law school - and you'll have the most flexibility to do that at a T13. You'd need really gangbuster grades at a T3/T4 school to switch.

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trmckenz

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Re: Going to top law school vs. doing night program (IP Law)

Postby trmckenz » Thu Oct 18, 2018 1:29 am

FWIW, I am a patent agent who has gone through the decision process of whether to go to law school part time or full time. I’ve had big law firms offer to fund my way through law school. I went through the part-time law school application process. I’ve seen my some of my patent colleagues go through law school part time while working.

I chose to go full time. I am a 2L at UT now. It’s definitely the better play. Here are a few reasons why:

Going to law school at night completely sucks. It is such a slog. It’s not impossible, but my god, it’s miserable. I don’t know how people last through four years of it, between the big law job, the school, and family obligations, it is a lot. As Ron Swanson says, don’t half ass two things... whole ass one thing.

You won’t be pigeonholed into doing patent work if you go full time. Even with my strong IP background (electrical engineer, 5 years of patent law experience), I will be joining an office of a firm that doesn’t do IP work at all. I can say with confidence that if I had gone to law school part time, I would have been (or at least felt) stuck doing patent work. It’s important to understand that going part-time really ties you to one specific practice group at one specific firm... it’s much better to have options at the beginning of your career.

Lastly, which law school you go to matters. A lot. So much. Probably too much. It sets your place in the pecking order, for better or for worse, and it stays with you forever. Now is the time to set yourself up, so reach for the stars. I transferred up law schools; I have seen the difference bewteeen A and B. My jump of less than 10 slots up US News rankings has been significant in terms of job opportunities and academics. T20 or bust.

My advice is to crush the LSAT and go to the best school you can get into. Take out loans or whatever you gotta do. If you have patent-eligible background, you will have much less risk than your peers when job hunting begins, so don’t worry too much. The best thing you can do is go to a top school so that you have lots of options. And then you’ll get your pick of firm and practice area!

Happy to help with any questions. Feel free to PM. Good luck.



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