Continue with phd or go straight to law school?

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Madefix
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Joined: Wed Aug 14, 2013 9:53 pm

Continue with phd or go straight to law school?

Postby Madefix » Wed Aug 14, 2013 10:11 pm

Currently, I'm in a phd chemistry program with research likely to be in a nano related field. I already earned by ms in chemistry 2 years ago and I have some industry experience in quality control and molecular diagnostics. I wanted to do patent law after my masters, but I decided that the job market was too bad and that I should do my phd to have abetted shot of employment. I felt a year and half of industry experience with an ms would not be sufficient.
I have talked with a patent lawyer recently at a fairly well respected law firm. He told me that I was we'll qualified to be a patent lawyer and that if I was able to pass the pat bar prior to law school, I could obtain work as a patent agent and have better job prospects over all. My question is as follows. If I take the lsat in October / December and can score 160-165 and get into a tier 2 law school, should I pursue that route? Again, my ultimate goal is patent law. While I enjoy science, it is simply too political and I don't need a phd for any other career field. Am I taking the long way around by getting a phd first, or is an ms in chemistry with some industry experience, and potentially pat bar passage, sufficient criteria to get into a decent law school and ultimately gain employment?

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Kafkaesquire
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Re: Continue with phd or go straight to law school?

Postby Kafkaesquire » Wed Aug 14, 2013 10:39 pm

Madefix wrote:I already earned by ms in chemistry 2 years ago and I have some industry experience in quality control and molecular diagnostics.
I have talked with a patent lawyer recently at a fairly well respected law firm. He told me that I was we'll qualified to be a patent lawyer


Talk to more patent lawyers, because I know many who would suggest that you earn your Ph.D. to become competitive.

Madefix
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Re: Continue with phd or go straight to law school?

Postby Madefix » Wed Aug 14, 2013 11:00 pm

I'm sure I can get into a tier 2 with an ip program ( seton hall) and with good enough lsat scores, I could probably do tier such as Gwu (3.42 ugpa btw ). I'm okay with doing litigation or prosecution. I'm being told that the phd is somewhat extraneous if you have ms in chemistry and some experience as well. There's no doubt that a phd helps land you a job, and even offers someone the ability to go to a lower ranked law school and sti have job prospects. I just don't want to waste 4-6 years of my life for something I could pursue now: either directly with law school or as a patent agent.

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Kafkaesquire
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Re: Continue with phd or go straight to law school?

Postby Kafkaesquire » Wed Aug 14, 2013 11:14 pm

Madefix wrote:I'm sure I can get into a tier 2 with an ip program ( seton hall) and with good enough lsat scores, I could probably do tier such as Gwu (3.42 ugpa btw ). I'm okay with doing litigation or prosecution. I'm being told that the phd is somewhat extraneous if you have ms in chemistry and some experience as well. There's no doubt that a phd helps land you a job, and even offers someone the ability to go to a lower ranked law school and sti have job prospects. I just don't want to waste 4-6 years of my life for something I could pursue now: either directly with law school or as a patent agent.


I know there are others who can give better advice at this point, because all I really know is that your Ph.D. will be competitive - no guarantee, just competitive - to enter patent prosecution. Patent litigation is very different in that it does not require a technical/science degree or passing the patent bar.

mrsmartypants
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Re: Continue with phd or go straight to law school?

Postby mrsmartypants » Thu Aug 15, 2013 11:18 am

Kafkaesquire wrote:Talk to more patent lawyers, because I know many who would suggest that you earn your Ph.D. to become competitive.


This. Specifically, talk to more patent lawyers who do prosecution in chemistry, if that's what you're interested in. It's not my field, but all the chemistry patent agents I know have doctorates, and the majority opinion is that it's difficult to get work as an agent without one.

It's less clear whether the bar is lower for attorneys who do prosecution in chemistry, though I know a fair number of JD/PhDs in life sciences.

For litigation, conventional wisdom is that the bar is much lower, and your present technical background would likely suffice. Again, you should endeavor to talk to some folks who actually work in the technical fields relevant to you--getting feedback from a guy who litigates or prosecutes in the EE/CS area is really going to be speculative at best, because the playing field is not level across different technologies.

Madefix
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Re: Continue with phd or go straight to law school?

Postby Madefix » Thu Aug 15, 2013 12:10 pm

If I were to take and pass the pat bar, would it be possible to gain employment as a patent agent, assuming I have no prior patent experience. In my own limited research, it seems that prior patent experience is necessary to secure a job. I'd be happy to be a patent agent in the interim and do law school later for litigation. Or pursue patent examination once I gain some experience. I'm just not sure I can find a job even with the patbar and a masters.

mrsmartypants
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Re: Continue with phd or go straight to law school?

Postby mrsmartypants » Thu Aug 15, 2013 12:34 pm

Asked and answered (to the best of my ability):
mrsmartypants wrote:all the chemistry patent agents I know have doctorates, and the majority opinion is that it's difficult to get work as an agent without one.

Unless there's someone here who actually works in prosecution in the chemical arts and can speak more directly to the subject, no one here can do more than repeat the conventional wisdom. Your best guidance will come from people who actually work in the field.

Secondarily, look at bios of chemical patent prosecutors, particularly agents, on law firm websites. This information is readily available and will give you a firsthand sense of the credentials of people in positions you seek.

Madefix
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Re: Continue with phd or go straight to law school?

Postby Madefix » Thu Aug 15, 2013 7:15 pm

I've looked at several law firms and many individuals only have masters, in some case only bachelors. These people tend to come from top law schools or at worse, tier 1 or 2 with strong IP programs. I was always under the impression that a PhD is the only way to really break into patent law if you're not in EE or CS or another desirable engineering degree. These people may have previous experience as an agent or examiner which could explain the situation. Would I be able to find employment as an agent with a masters, part of my PhD and a year and a half of industry experience? Or maybe as an examiner?
I dont want to give up on my PhD, but I dont want to waste 4-6 years of my life, to ultimately end up in the same position I could have with my masters. And just like law school, there is no guarantee with a doctorate. I personally know people whose PI left and the student was basically shit out of luck.




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