Former engineers... are you happy with your decision for law

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J-e-L-L-o
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Former engineers... are you happy with your decision for law

Postby J-e-L-L-o » Sat Dec 15, 2012 2:32 pm

Just want to get current opinons from recent law grads. I am an EE major, 0L, but I still have law school on my radar. I know engineers make a good salary with less hours, blah....but I do want to learn the law and become a lawyer.

LaBarrister
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Re: Former engineers... are you happy with your decision for law

Postby LaBarrister » Sat Dec 15, 2012 5:53 pm

I do, too. It's okay. You're not the only one. Why are you unsatisfied with being an engineer? I'm still in undergrad.

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Re: Former engineers... are you happy with your decision for law

Postby typ3 » Sat Dec 15, 2012 6:40 pm

I'm engaged to a 2L ME but she refuses to register on here. She didn't like the idea of being an engineer and being pigeon holed into doing one thing all day. That being said, she has the same complaints about doing patent work for 2 years. It's repetitive and a lot of times the human contact is even less in law.

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Re: Former engineers... are you happy with your decision for law

Postby J-e-L-L-o » Sun Dec 16, 2012 7:17 am

I love my classes. I have always had a nack for science and math so I have always wanted to be an engineer. My dad used to tell me stories how I would take apart my toys as a kid to find out how they worked lol

I like technical stuff and I am always reading constantly. I believe law school will be a really good fit. Hopefully I can get into a good enough school to explore other avenues as well like white collar crime and government regulations.

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Re: Former engineers... are you happy with your decision for law

Postby DildaMan » Sun Dec 16, 2012 7:45 am

I'm happy. The amount of work in terms of time spent studying is about the same. I stuck with IP so most of the concepts and materials weren't totally alien. Certain subjects, torts/con law, make me want to barf though.

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Re: Former engineers... are you happy with your decision for law

Postby fl0w » Sun Dec 16, 2012 8:38 am

computer science.

I'm totally happy w/ it. About to go into my last semester of 3L. I have my stuff all sorted out for after graduation. Maybe the 'totally happy' would have been different if I were not "IP Secure."

Law is still problem solving, but it's different than engineering. I worked in industry for 5yrs before going back to school. The thing is... you're not really going to have anything to compare it to until you have a real career under your belt.

I loved engineering. And then I was done with it. But I was happy while I was doing it. Law school will always be there. If you still have a love for engineering, I'd say check it out for a few years if you are lucky enough to secure a job. Otherwise you may be in the field of law and perpetually unable to scratch your engineering itch.

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Re: Former engineers... are you happy with your decision for law

Postby suralin » Sun Dec 16, 2012 9:40 am

fl0w wrote:computer science.

I'm totally happy w/ it. About to go into my last semester of 3L. I have my stuff all sorted out for after graduation. Maybe the 'totally happy' would have been different if I were not "IP Secure."

Law is still problem solving, but it's different than engineering. I worked in industry for 5yrs before going back to school. The thing is... you're not really going to have anything to compare it to until you have a real career under your belt.

I loved engineering. And then I was done with it. But I was happy while I was doing it. Law school will always be there. If you still have a love for engineering, I'd say check it out for a few years if you are lucky enough to secure a job. Otherwise you may be in the field of law and perpetually unable to scratch your engineering itch.


In your opinion, is having passed the patent bar necessary for "IP Secure" to kick in (for OCI, etc.)? Or is being patent bar eligible with a technical undergrad degree enough? I've heard differing accounts.

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Re: Former engineers... are you happy with your decision for law

Postby fl0w » Sun Dec 16, 2012 10:23 am

Suralin wrote:
fl0w wrote:computer science.

I'm totally happy w/ it. About to go into my last semester of 3L. I have my stuff all sorted out for after graduation. Maybe the 'totally happy' would have been different if I were not "IP Secure."

Law is still problem solving, but it's different than engineering. I worked in industry for 5yrs before going back to school. The thing is... you're not really going to have anything to compare it to until you have a real career under your belt.

I loved engineering. And then I was done with it. But I was happy while I was doing it. Law school will always be there. If you still have a love for engineering, I'd say check it out for a few years if you are lucky enough to secure a job. Otherwise you may be in the field of law and perpetually unable to scratch your engineering itch.


In your opinion, is having passed the patent bar necessary for "IP Secure" to kick in (for OCI, etc.)? Or is being patent bar eligible with a technical undergrad degree enough? I've heard differing accounts.


as with everything related to the law, the answer is "it depends."
I am going into IP Lit. I am patent bar eligible, which I made sure to let people know during interviews, but in the end I have no intention for sitting for the patent bar or doing patent prosecution (patent bar not required for litigation). So for me it turned out that my tech background + undergrad degree + work experience, etc. was enough. This will depend on the firm though.

I know a small handful that took patent bar while in law school, but most plan to take it after they take the state bar.

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Re: Former engineers... are you happy with your decision for law

Postby suralin » Sun Dec 16, 2012 10:34 am

fl0w wrote:as with everything related to the law, the answer is "it depends."
I am going into IP Lit. I am patent bar eligible, which I made sure to let people know during interviews, but in the end I have no intention for sitting for the patent bar or doing patent prosecution (patent bar not required for litigation). So for me it turned out that my tech background + undergrad degree + work experience, etc. was enough. This will depend on the firm though.

I know a small handful that took patent bar while in law school, but most plan to take it after they take the state bar.


Haha, right after I posted that question I had actually anticipated that initial response. And thanks! Useful information for sure.

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Re: Former engineers... are you happy with your decision for law

Postby J-e-L-L-o » Mon Dec 17, 2012 3:08 am

good stuff. Thanx for the replies

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Re: Former engineers... are you happy with your decision for law

Postby LAWYER2 » Tue Dec 18, 2012 12:51 pm

fl0w wrote:
Suralin wrote:
fl0w wrote:computer science.

I'm totally happy w/ it. About to go into my last semester of 3L. I have my stuff all sorted out for after graduation. Maybe the 'totally happy' would have been different if I were not "IP Secure."

Law is still problem solving, but it's different than engineering. I worked in industry for 5yrs before going back to school. The thing is... you're not really going to have anything to compare it to until you have a real career under your belt.

I loved engineering. And then I was done with it. But I was happy while I was doing it. Law school will always be there. If you still have a love for engineering, I'd say check it out for a few years if you are lucky enough to secure a job. Otherwise you may be in the field of law and perpetually unable to scratch your engineering itch.


In your opinion, is having passed the patent bar necessary for "IP Secure" to kick in (for OCI, etc.)? Or is being patent bar eligible with a technical undergrad degree enough? I've heard differing accounts.


as with everything related to the law, the answer is "it depends."
I am going into IP Lit. I am patent bar eligible, which I made sure to let people know during interviews, but in the end I have no intention for sitting for the patent bar or doing patent prosecution (patent bar not required for litigation). So for me it turned out that my tech background + undergrad degree + work experience, etc. was enough. This will depend on the firm though.

I know a small handful that took patent bar while in law school, but most plan to take it after they take the state bar.


Hey I am a 3L and telecom/Network engineer by trade who decided to go to law school for a change. I am not eligible for the Patent Bar because of my BA in undergrad [ although I do have 10+ years experience and certifications to boot] so I haven't really gave much thought to IP law. However, I keep envisioning some unique, self-created, Hyper-Niche market that can encompass both Technology and the Law.
With that said, did your career path evolve or have you had it staked out from the start?
Last edited by LAWYER2 on Tue Dec 18, 2012 1:28 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Former engineers... are you happy with your decision for law

Postby nebula666 » Tue Dec 18, 2012 1:12 pm

Very anecdotal, but one of my professors this semester had an engineering (civil) background. She said it helped her immensely in practice because engineers and lawyers are both essentially problem solvers. She did talk about how engineers generally have worse people skills than do lawyers from humanities backgrounds, but that doesn't make them bad lawyers.

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Re: Former engineers... are you happy with your decision for law

Postby fl0w » Tue Dec 18, 2012 2:55 pm

LAWYER2 wrote:
fl0w wrote:
Suralin wrote:
fl0w wrote:computer science.

I'm totally happy w/ it. About to go into my last semester of 3L. I have my stuff all sorted out for after graduation. Maybe the 'totally happy' would have been different if I were not "IP Secure."

Law is still problem solving, but it's different than engineering. I worked in industry for 5yrs before going back to school. The thing is... you're not really going to have anything to compare it to until you have a real career under your belt.

I loved engineering. And then I was done with it. But I was happy while I was doing it. Law school will always be there. If you still have a love for engineering, I'd say check it out for a few years if you are lucky enough to secure a job. Otherwise you may be in the field of law and perpetually unable to scratch your engineering itch.


In your opinion, is having passed the patent bar necessary for "IP Secure" to kick in (for OCI, etc.)? Or is being patent bar eligible with a technical undergrad degree enough? I've heard differing accounts.


as with everything related to the law, the answer is "it depends."
I am going into IP Lit. I am patent bar eligible, which I made sure to let people know during interviews, but in the end I have no intention for sitting for the patent bar or doing patent prosecution (patent bar not required for litigation). So for me it turned out that my tech background + undergrad degree + work experience, etc. was enough. This will depend on the firm though.

I know a small handful that took patent bar while in law school, but most plan to take it after they take the state bar.


Hey I am a 3L and telecom/Network engineer by trade who decided to go to law school for a change. I am not eligible for the Patent Bar because of my BA in undergrad [ although I do have 10+ years experience and certifications to boot] so I haven't really gave much thought to IP law. However, I keep envisioning some unique, self-created, Hyper-Niche market that can encompass both Technology and the Law.
With that said, did your career path evolve or have you had it staked out from the start?


assuming you meant me?
undergrad computer science class 2005. senior project - video game programming. decided i didn't want to go into it after learning about the industry. did freelance web work on the side while working as a technology auditor for 5 years. also ran a hip hop dance company in my free time.
had never even though about law school or being a lawyer until 2009. And if you want to get into Tech&Law... get out to the SF Bay Area. I'll be doing IP Lit out there after graduation.
So I guess the short answer is that my career path evolved nicely. But once I decided on law school, I did know that I wanted to do IP.

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Re: Former engineers... are you happy with your decision for law

Postby phillydoucherocket » Thu Dec 27, 2012 6:49 am

Hey I am a 3L and telecom/Network engineer by trade who decided to go to law school for a change. I am not eligible for the Patent Bar because of my BA in undergrad [ although I do have 10+ years experience and certifications to boot] so I haven't really gave much thought to IP law. However, I keep envisioning some unique, self-created, Hyper-Niche market that can encompass both Technology and the Law.

Hmmm. I've got one of those 'collision of law and technology' jobs. While it doesn't suck, wandering around in the wilderness for a few years certainly did.

Had a non-science undergrad but was able to be a competent sysadmin and network engineer. Figured combining that with a law degree would be a good move. Graduated in '06 from a second tier law school in my market with average grades. No love at OCI. Large firms wouldn't talk to me because I wasn't top 15%/law review. Midlaw firms didn't hire new lawyers. Only offers were a suburban DA's office and an e-discovery vendor.

Took the e-discovery vendor job since I couldn't pay loans on the DA salary. Spent 5 years in some form of e-discovery- project manager, consultant, doc review, doc review manager. Did some side work in IT and law to stay sharp. Occasionally talked to headhunters about firm or corporate jobs using my skill-set. Kept running into the 'two headed monkey' problem- lawyers couldn't figure out if I was a 'real lawyer' because I still thought about technology. Non lawyers couldn't figure out why I wanted some 80k job doing IT compliance instead of making fat lawyer money.

Luckily, I found my current job at a law firm that's really an IT auditing firm owned by two lawyers. Half my job is doing legal work and the other half is technical. On a good day I get to research fun topics like "how could you get h.264 video discredited or ruled inadmissible" or pen-test a client's network.

Until I got this job, I often regretted my decision to go to law school. I still don't know if I'd have done it all over again.




That

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Re: Former engineers... are you happy with your decision for law

Postby cahwc12 » Thu Dec 27, 2012 10:08 am

Question to the both of you (and others) who tried to break into IP without a hard science degree: If you could go back, do you feel it would have been worth it to complete a second bachelor's in a tech field before law school (assuming it only took one year)?

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Re: Former engineers... are you happy with your decision for law

Postby fl0w » Thu Dec 27, 2012 10:46 am

cahwc12 wrote:Question to the both of you (and others) who tried to break into IP without a hard science degree: If you could go back, do you feel it would have been worth it to complete a second bachelor's in a tech field before law school (assuming it only took one year)?


for me, i don't know if i was one of the people you were addressing, I wouldn't go back for another major. I doubled in computer science and business management. I was happy with all of that. But the thing about science degrees is that those people rarely have law school on their radar right after undergrad. Most people are doing science cause they find the science interesting.

I'd only ever get a masters in something if I were passionate about it. You can get an Patent Litigation job with a soft science if you do well in law school. If you take a couple supplemental courses you can even be patent bar eligible if you want to do Patent Prosecution.

Interviewers look at your performance in law school, they ask about your senior project for your science degree, they ask about your work experience and how "sciency" you really are in your field. I feel like a big key for scientists / engineers is working for a while.

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Re: Former engineers... are you happy with your decision for law

Postby BarrySanders » Mon Dec 31, 2012 1:29 am

O.P. Yes I am happy I went to law school, but not everything went as planned.

I am a current 3L dual J.D. / M.S. Environmental Science student and thought I would tell you my story. I have no idea if it helps, or is even what you are looking for, but here it is. I decided to go to law school after a few years working as a controls engineer (ME background, but heavy on machine control, programming, and robotics) because I did not want to get pigeon holed as an engineer. I had the makings of a great career with the company I was at, but ultimately did not want to work making automotive mirrors my whole life. Plus, I had always sort of wanted to be a lawyer.

Before law school I talked to several IP attorneys and thought that patent law would be great for me. I was wrong. During 1L I networked with several more patent practitioners at all sizes of firms, boutiques, and quickly discovered (because I now knew what to ask about) that the things that led me to leave engineering were also going to get me to hate patent prosecution within a few years. Luckily for me, I also had / have a strong interest and background in energy and environmental law. So I changed gears and worked for the state environmental agency my 1L summer and loved it. The fall of my 2L year, I took both patent and environmental law to try and figure where I wanted to be. Before exams, I realized that IP was not for me and that I loved a lot of the problems associated with environmental cases. I then applied and was accepted into the dual degree program.

Due to the extra summer (4 years total), I was able to work in-house over my 2L summer and have a summer associate position lined up for next summer. I've actually enjoyed law school in many ways, but I know plenty who haven't. Also, even though I have a full-tuition scholarship to law school, the debt from COL and 2 semesters of the master's program will be considerable. Without the scholarship, I never would have left engineering.

For your original comments, I worked about 55 - 60 hours per week (with plenty of 12 hour days), plus as a controls engineer I was always on call if machines I was responsible for broke, so I'm not sure that the difference in hours will be that great between the two careers. Pay might not be either, so make sure you take the bimodal salary distribution stuff to heart when deciding whether or not to go.

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Re: Former engineers... are you happy with your decision for law

Postby suralin » Mon Dec 31, 2012 2:21 am

BarrySanders wrote:O.P. Yes I am happy I went to law school, but not everything went as planned.

I am a current 3L dual J.D. / M.S. Environmental Science student and thought I would tell you my story. I have no idea if it helps, or is even what you are looking for, but here it is. I decided to go to law school after a few years working as a controls engineer (ME background, but heavy on machine control, programming, and robotics) because I did not want to get pigeon holed as an engineer. I had the makings of a great career with the company I was at, but ultimately did not want to work making automotive mirrors my whole life. Plus, I had always sort of wanted to be a lawyer.

Before law school I talked to several IP attorneys and thought that patent law would be great for me. I was wrong. During 1L I networked with several more patent practitioners at all sizes of firms, boutiques, and quickly discovered (because I now knew what to ask about) that the things that led me to leave engineering were also going to get me to hate patent prosecution within a few years. Luckily for me, I also had / have a strong interest and background in energy and environmental law. So I changed gears and worked for the state environmental agency my 1L summer and loved it. The fall of my 2L year, I took both patent and environmental law to try and figure where I wanted to be. Before exams, I realized that IP was not for me and that I loved a lot of the problems associated with environmental cases. I then applied and was accepted into the dual degree program.

Due to the extra summer (4 years total), I was able to work in-house over my 2L summer and have a summer associate position lined up for next summer. I've actually enjoyed law school in many ways, but I know plenty who haven't. Also, even though I have a full-tuition scholarship to law school, the debt from COL and 2 semesters of the master's program will be considerable. Without the scholarship, I never would have left engineering.

For your original comments, I worked about 55 - 60 hours per week (with plenty of 12 hour days), plus as a controls engineer I was always on call if machines I was responsible for broke, so I'm not sure that the difference in hours will be that great between the two careers. Pay might not be either, so make sure you take the bimodal salary distribution stuff to heart when deciding whether or not to go.


Thanks for sharing. I'm still trying to decide if I want to do IP, so if you could share what specifically turned you away from it, that'd be great.

Also, sounds like it worked out pretty well in the end. School range?

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Re: Former engineers... are you happy with your decision for law

Postby BarrySanders » Tue Jan 01, 2013 10:24 pm

Suralin wrote:Thanks for sharing. I'm still trying to decide if I want to do IP, so if you could share what specifically turned you away from it, that'd be great.

Also, sounds like it worked out pretty well in the end. School range?


School range T30.

I guess what I did not like about IP was mostly tied to patent prosecution. It is a really narrow field, and from what I have seen practitioners are often very specialized. For instance, I talked to one attorney (also a ME) who did nothing but obtain patents on knee and hip replacements. This level of specialization seemed typical for patent prosecution and was a big part of scaring me off.

One of the big reasons that I soured on engineering was that I could see my career heading towards a narrow specialization when I prefer to think generally and more big picture. For me, I feared that patent prosecution would, in a similar way, lead me to a career of trying to distinguish why one coffee cup is better than another. (I'm not kidding, last time I looked the McDonalds' coffee cup was marked patent pending.) While almost all lawyers are specialists in a particular field, they are also often forced to be a generalist. I like diversity in my work and did not feel that a career in patent prosecution was going to have much of that.

I want to emphasize that patent prosecution is a great field and, unlike virtually any other legal area, is in demand. Frankly, I've had a lot of restless nights wondering if abandoning it was a good choice. Ultimately, I decided that I needed to do something different.

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Re: Former engineers... are you happy with your decision for law

Postby suralin » Tue Jan 01, 2013 11:46 pm

BarrySanders wrote:
Suralin wrote:Thanks for sharing. I'm still trying to decide if I want to do IP, so if you could share what specifically turned you away from it, that'd be great.

Also, sounds like it worked out pretty well in the end. School range?


School range T30.

I guess what I did not like about IP was mostly tied to patent prosecution. It is a really narrow field, and from what I have seen practitioners are often very specialized. For instance, I talked to one attorney (also a ME) who did nothing but obtain patents on knee and hip replacements. This level of specialization seemed typical for patent prosecution and was a big part of scaring me off.

One of the big reasons that I soured on engineering was that I could see my career heading towards a narrow specialization when I prefer to think generally and more big picture. For me, I feared that patent prosecution would, in a similar way, lead me to a career of trying to distinguish why one coffee cup is better than another. (I'm not kidding, last time I looked the McDonalds' coffee cup was marked patent pending.) While almost all lawyers are specialists in a particular field, they are also often forced to be a generalist. I like diversity in my work and did not feel that a career in patent prosecution was going to have much of that.

I want to emphasize that patent prosecution is a great field and, unlike virtually any other legal area, is in demand. Frankly, I've had a lot of restless nights wondering if abandoning it was a good choice. Ultimately, I decided that I needed to do something different.


Thanks for sharing. Yeah, that does seem like a pretty significant drawback, but I guess I'll cross that bridge when I come to it.

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Re: Former engineers... are you happy with your decision for law

Postby togepi » Wed Jan 02, 2013 12:36 am

Figure this may be a decent place to ask instead of starting a new thread, but how would you guys loosely compare law classes and engineering classes on a difficulty scale in your opinion? I know that they are day and night, but as far as understanding concepts and such, would you say they are fairly comparable in difficulty?

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Re: Former engineers... are you happy with your decision for law

Postby englawyer » Wed Jan 02, 2013 1:31 am

understanding concepts in both engineering and law is pretty easy (for example, statics just means that the forces must sum up to zero. sounds easy enough). applying concepts in both is very hard. i personally found law more difficult than engineering but it could go the other way depending on your skillset.

to answer op, i'm really happy with my decision. engineering is a good career for lazy/non-ambitious people but not so great for someone looking to fast track a career. you can slack off, work barely 40hr/week, and get a reasonable salary with small raises (3-4%). but there is a reason the most ambitious ppl leave for grad school (MBA/JD/PHD) after a few years. i am mostly talking about cubicle-farm style F500 gigs as opposed to startup/entrepreneurial stuff which is probably the best way to go if you can swing it.

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Re: Former engineers... are you happy with your decision for law

Postby skiingimpy » Wed Jan 02, 2013 2:07 am

I was a civil e major with a concentration in structures. I went basically straight K-JD but after deciding that I HATED my senior project (which I took my 1st senior year), I decided that law school was a good choice and figured that I would probably do something law related to engineering or environment or something.

Almost 4 years later, I'm getting ready to start my job with the public defender's office. I interned in the office fairly extensivley in the last two years of ls, and I love what my job is going to be, and I know that things absolutely (and improbably) worked out for me.

As background, I went to a pretty good public engineering school, and what most would consider a pretty poor private law school (If one stalked the shit out of me on tls I think they could figure out both). And things have miraculously worked out for me.

As far as the difficulty of engineering v. law school classes, honestly I thought both were easy, but comparing them, in engineering, you can figure it out and totally understand a subject in engineering, but in law, even after you understand something and 'get it', the jackass gunner across the library will study harder and still beat you on the curve. They don't teach the law of diminishing returns in ba school, and I really couldn't drag myself to care enough to put in the time.

Things worked out for me and my closest law school friends, but after lurking tls for roughly the last 5 years (yikes), I think that ALL of us were probably the exception and would strongly discourage anyone (especially if you have some kind of entry level options) from attending law school.

sorry for all the parentheticals. when I'm drunk they just come out.

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Re: Former engineers... are you happy with your decision for law

Postby togepi » Wed Jan 02, 2013 2:57 am

I was Civil also. Is there a reason you chose to work for the public defenders office? Did you attempt to do something Patent/Environmental/Gas/Energy? Any anecdotal evidence will do. Just wondering, because there aren't many civils in law school and I'm wondering if I am interested in the field above, how much the degree will carry.

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Re: Former engineers... are you happy with your decision for law

Postby fl0w » Wed Jan 02, 2013 8:20 am

Just wanted to add that the deterrents for Patent Prosecution and IP Litigation will not be the same. The above poster (BarrySanders) described the level of granularity and specialization common in patent prosecution. This drive me away from that discipline as well.

IP litigation is very different though. No patent bar required, you are involved in trial preparation, briefs memos, depositions, expert witnesses, etc. They rely on your "enginerd" type mind to be able to quickly learn about technologies so you can build strong arguments.

To me, IP Litigation gave me both the tech involvement and the variety to keep me on my toes and always learning. Also remember that while the majority of IP work is patent litigation or prosecution, there are also copyrights and trademarks that come up for some added flavor (if you are in IP litigation).

About difficulty of law school v. Engineering.... I was computer science and law school is, by far, easier. CS was full of complex problems demanding elegant solutions (limited solutions) and, at the end of the day, either your software worked or it didnt. Objectively. In law school you also encounter complex problems, but the solution set is not so limited. You end up, in an exam scenario, basically just typing everything you know as fast as you can and argue what might work and what might not. And all I had to do in law school was read and writee papers. Easy as pie compared to all-nighters drinking Mountain Dew Code Red and hacking away in the computer lab.

For me the most difficult part was switching over to MEMORIZATION of information instead of direct application of skills acquired. In CS you were graded on your products, the software. In law you are typically graded on how much info you can regurgitate in a 2-3hr exam.




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