How do I determine whether I'd actually enjoy Patent Law?

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ampm
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How do I determine whether I'd actually enjoy Patent Law?

Postby ampm » Tue Jan 21, 2014 3:37 am

Quick background: 24 yrs old. Engineering grad. 99th percentile LSAT. Relevant work experience in tech.

I'm at a point where I want to determine what my future career path should be and I told myself that if I did law, it would have to be in an area that is relevant to my background i.e. patent work.

But before I commit, I want to understand whether Patent work would really appeal to me. I thought of a couple ways I could test out this work:

1. Study for the patent bar.
2. Work for the USPTO
3. Work at a patent firm (would have to figure out what jobs would be available i.e. paralegal, researcher, etc.)

Which option would make most sense? Any and all advice would be much appreciated.

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Cocoblues
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Re: How do I determine whether I'd actually enjoy Patent Law?

Postby Cocoblues » Tue Jan 21, 2014 3:03 pm

Speak with a patent attorney and hear what his/her work entails, what he/she enjoys and dislikes about it. Do you have a Master's or Bachelor's degree?

Work at a law firm as technology specialist if you can swing a gig like that.

If you find that you enjoy patent law, study for and take the patent bar exam. It won't teach you how to practice patent prosecution, but you'll at least have the exam out of the way before you begin law school.

I don't know if you can work as a USPTO examiner without a Ph.D. You should look into it. Candidates with Engineering degrees may qualify with only a BS or MS.

Good luck!

mx23250
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Re: How do I determine whether I'd actually enjoy Patent Law?

Postby mx23250 » Tue Jan 21, 2014 3:10 pm

ampm wrote:Quick background: 24 yrs old. Engineering grad. 99th percentile LSAT. Relevant work experience in tech.

I'm at a point where I want to determine what my future career path should be and I told myself that if I did law, it would have to be in an area that is relevant to my background i.e. patent work.

But before I commit, I want to understand whether Patent work would really appeal to me. I thought of a couple ways I could test out this work:

1. Study for the patent bar.
2. Work for the USPTO
3. Work at a patent firm (would have to figure out what jobs would be available i.e. paralegal, researcher, etc.)

Which option would make most sense? Any and all advice would be much appreciated.


Another option is to intern in technology transfer. Most major research universities have technology transfer offices and many of them offer internships to individuals with science backgrounds. If you live nearby one it's something you should check out. Even if it's just for a few weeks it would give you the opportunity to interact with scientists and their inventions, perform patent searches, evaluate technologies, and even assist in the preparation of patent applications. Most of the offices have patent attorneys working in them (most coming from private practice) so it would give you a chance to speak to them about the field along with getting experience. I did this and it confirmed my interest in patent law.

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Kafkaesquire
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Re: How do I determine whether I'd actually enjoy Patent Law?

Postby Kafkaesquire » Tue Jan 21, 2014 7:07 pm

mx23250 wrote:
ampm wrote:Quick background: 24 yrs old. Engineering grad. 99th percentile LSAT. Relevant work experience in tech.

I'm at a point where I want to determine what my future career path should be and I told myself that if I did law, it would have to be in an area that is relevant to my background i.e. patent work.

But before I commit, I want to understand whether Patent work would really appeal to me. I thought of a couple ways I could test out this work:

1. Study for the patent bar.
2. Work for the USPTO
3. Work at a patent firm (would have to figure out what jobs would be available i.e. paralegal, researcher, etc.)

Which option would make most sense? Any and all advice would be much appreciated.


Another option is to intern in technology transfer. Most major research universities have technology transfer offices and many of them offer internships to individuals with science backgrounds. If you live nearby one it's something you should check out. Even if it's just for a few weeks it would give you the opportunity to interact with scientists and their inventions, perform patent searches, evaluate technologies, and even assist in the preparation of patent applications. Most of the offices have patent attorneys working in them (most coming from private practice) so it would give you a chance to speak to them about the field along with getting experience. I did this and it confirmed my interest in patent law.


I second this. I'm in the process of interviewing for a position at my U just like the one described above. It is especially hard as a 0L to get WE at a patent law firm (as opposed to a non-patent law firm, I've been told by IP attorneys), so your best bet there seems to job shadow. Since that sucks long term, I recommend pursuing the above option.

EDIT
What I'm also excited about in the above situation is being around so many business/executive types instead of only lawyers. I want to work as in-house counsel, not in a firm, so this situation is great for me.

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Cocoblues
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Re: How do I determine whether I'd actually enjoy Patent Law?

Postby Cocoblues » Tue Jan 21, 2014 10:15 pm

Kafkaesquire wrote:
mx23250 wrote:
ampm wrote:Quick background: 24 yrs old. Engineering grad. 99th percentile LSAT. Relevant work experience in tech.

I'm at a point where I want to determine what my future career path should be and I told myself that if I did law, it would have to be in an area that is relevant to my background i.e. patent work.

But before I commit, I want to understand whether Patent work would really appeal to me. I thought of a couple ways I could test out this work:

1. Study for the patent bar.
2. Work for the USPTO
3. Work at a patent firm (would have to figure out what jobs would be available i.e. paralegal, researcher, etc.)

Which option would make most sense? Any and all advice would be much appreciated.


Another option is to intern in technology transfer. Most major research universities have technology transfer offices and many of them offer internships to individuals with science backgrounds. If you live nearby one it's something you should check out. Even if it's just for a few weeks it would give you the opportunity to interact with scientists and their inventions, perform patent searches, evaluate technologies, and even assist in the preparation of patent applications. Most of the offices have patent attorneys working in them (most coming from private practice) so it would give you a chance to speak to them about the field along with getting experience. I did this and it confirmed my interest in patent law.


I second this. I'm in the process of interviewing for a position at my U just like the one described above. It is especially hard as a 0L to get WE at a patent law firm (as opposed to a non-patent law firm, I've been told by IP attorneys), so your best bet there seems to job shadow. Since that sucks long term, I recommend pursuing the above option.

EDIT
What I'm also excited about in the above situation is being around so many business/executive types instead of only lawyers. I want to work as in-house counsel, not in a firm, so this situation is great for me.


KafkaEsquire, would you please expand on this? Would an IP attorney from a patent law firm have less time to devote to a trainee than one from a non-patent law firm or are there additional considerations?

OP: The tech transfer office at your university is a great option as suggested above. You may have to play the alumni card if you've already graduated. I've found that such internships are often only for current students or postdocs in training. A recent graduate/alumni status could help you circumvent that requirement.

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Kafkaesquire
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Re: How do I determine whether I'd actually enjoy Patent Law?

Postby Kafkaesquire » Wed Jan 22, 2014 12:09 pm

Cocoblues wrote:
Kafkaesquire wrote:
mx23250 wrote:
ampm wrote:Quick background: 24 yrs old. Engineering grad. 99th percentile LSAT. Relevant work experience in tech.

I'm at a point where I want to determine what my future career path should be and I told myself that if I did law, it would have to be in an area that is relevant to my background i.e. patent work.

But before I commit, I want to understand whether Patent work would really appeal to me. I thought of a couple ways I could test out this work:

1. Study for the patent bar.
2. Work for the USPTO
3. Work at a patent firm (would have to figure out what jobs would be available i.e. paralegal, researcher, etc.)

Which option would make most sense? Any and all advice would be much appreciated.


Another option is to intern in technology transfer. Most major research universities have technology transfer offices and many of them offer internships to individuals with science backgrounds. If you live nearby one it's something you should check out. Even if it's just for a few weeks it would give you the opportunity to interact with scientists and their inventions, perform patent searches, evaluate technologies, and even assist in the preparation of patent applications. Most of the offices have patent attorneys working in them (most coming from private practice) so it would give you a chance to speak to them about the field along with getting experience. I did this and it confirmed my interest in patent law.


I second this. I'm in the process of interviewing for a position at my U just like the one described above. It is especially hard as a 0L to get WE at a patent law firm (as opposed to a non-patent law firm, I've been told by IP attorneys), so your best bet there seems to job shadow. Since that sucks long term, I recommend pursuing the above option.

EDIT
What I'm also excited about in the above situation is being around so many business/executive types instead of only lawyers. I want to work as in-house counsel, not in a firm, so this situation is great for me.


KafkaEsquire, would you please expand on this? Would an IP attorney from a patent law firm have less time to devote to a trainee than one from a non-patent law firm or are there additional considerations?

OP: The tech transfer office at your university is a great option as suggested above. You may have to play the alumni card if you've already graduated. I've found that such internships are often only for current students or postdocs in training. A recent graduate/alumni status could help you circumvent that requirement.


I should clarify. I was told that it was particularly hard to find a private practice patent lawyer who would be willing to spend time with you. Please disregard the false emphasis placed in my previous statement.

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Dr. Review
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Re: How do I determine whether I'd actually enjoy Patent Law?

Postby Dr. Review » Wed Jan 22, 2014 12:17 pm

ampm wrote:Quick background: 24 yrs old. Engineering grad. 99th percentile LSAT. Relevant work experience in tech.

I'm at a point where I want to determine what my future career path should be and I told myself that if I did law, it would have to be in an area that is relevant to my background i.e. patent work.

But before I commit, I want to understand whether Patent work would really appeal to me. I thought of a couple ways I could test out this work:

1. Study for the patent bar.
2. Work for the USPTO
3. Work at a patent firm (would have to figure out what jobs would be available i.e. paralegal, researcher, etc.)

Which option would make most sense? Any and all advice would be much appreciated.

Patent lawyer here.

1. Patent law can be a bit of a tough read from the 0L stage. Certain patent bar study courses give you more insight on actual patent practice than others, and subsequently may be more useful for your purposes than the standard "learn the test" strategy that many courses utilize. Research available courses, and see what you think.

2. Working as an Examiner is going to give you a lot of insight on patent prosecution work. Generally for engineers, a bachelor's level is sufficient to work as an examiner. Needs at the PTO vary by technology center. What is your degree in?

3. This one is going to be tough. Patent attorneys don't generally use paralegals. We use assistants/secretaries for day to day stuff. If I were looking at a resume for one of these positions, someone with an engineering degree might raise a flag with me. Another position would be patent agent and/or technical expert. Generally, a bachelor's engineer doesn't bring a whole lot to the table on the latter, and I am not sure how frequently the former actually gets hired in most tech areas. I find that patent agents are most often used to fill slots in difficult to hire technologies, e.g. PhDs or EEs. Further, working as an agent will require that you sit for the patent bar sooner rather than later, as it is a prerequisite to practice before the USPTO.

I would recommend talking to a patent attorney, seeing what his day to day is. See if that interests you.

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Cocoblues
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Re: How do I determine whether I'd actually enjoy Patent Law?

Postby Cocoblues » Wed Jan 22, 2014 12:59 pm

Kafkaesquire wrote:
Cocoblues wrote:
KafkaEsquire, would you please expand on this? Would an IP attorney from a patent law firm have less time to devote to a trainee than one from a non-patent law firm or are there additional considerations?

OP: The tech transfer office at your university is a great option as suggested above. You may have to play the alumni card if you've already graduated. I've found that such internships are often only for current students or postdocs in training. A recent graduate/alumni status could help you circumvent that requirement.


I should clarify. I was told that it was particularly hard to find a private practice patent lawyer who would be willing to spend time with you. Please disregard the false emphasis placed in my previous statement.


Thanks for the clarification.

ampm
Posts: 86
Joined: Fri Dec 09, 2011 4:02 pm

Re: How do I determine whether I'd actually enjoy Patent Law?

Postby ampm » Wed Jan 22, 2014 2:39 pm

Kafkaesquire wrote:I second this. I'm in the process of interviewing for a position at my U just like the one described above. It is especially hard as a 0L to get WE at a patent law firm (as opposed to a non-patent law firm, I've been told by IP attorneys), so your best bet there seems to job shadow. Since that sucks long term, I recommend pursuing the above option.

EDIT
What I'm also excited about in the above situation is being around so many business/executive types instead of only lawyers. I want to work as in-house counsel, not in a firm, so this situation is great for me.


Yea Im very much interested in business/finance as well since I do have a background in that area. Part of this process is to see whether I'd be more interested in that side as opposed to law. Did you find it competitive to get such a position? How long do you plan on staying with it?


mx23250 wrote:
Another option is to intern in technology transfer. Most major research universities have technology transfer offices and many of them offer internships to individuals with science backgrounds. If you live nearby one it's something you should check out. Even if it's just for a few weeks it would give you the opportunity to interact with scientists and their inventions, perform patent searches, evaluate technologies, and even assist in the preparation of patent applications. Most of the offices have patent attorneys working in them (most coming from private practice) so it would give you a chance to speak to them about the field along with getting experience. I did this and it confirmed my interest in patent law.


Ah got it. Do you feel like the type of work that you're doing as a patent lawyer is as interesting as what you encountered in the uni? Do you find it to be very much similar?

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Kafkaesquire
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Re: How do I determine whether I'd actually enjoy Patent Law?

Postby Kafkaesquire » Wed Jan 22, 2014 4:30 pm

ampm wrote:
Kafkaesquire wrote:I second this. I'm in the process of interviewing for a position at my U just like the one described above. It is especially hard as a 0L to get WE at a patent law firm (as opposed to a non-patent law firm, I've been told by IP attorneys), so your best bet there seems to job shadow. Since that sucks long term, I recommend pursuing the above option.

EDIT
What I'm also excited about in the above situation is being around so many business/executive types instead of only lawyers. I want to work as in-house counsel, not in a firm, so this situation is great for me.


Yea Im very much interested in business/finance as well since I do have a background in that area. Part of this process is to see whether I'd be more interested in that side as opposed to law. Did you find it competitive to get such a position? How long do you plan on staying with it?


I have virtually no competition for the position I am vying for. Furthermore, the position I am vying for, which is technically an internship, is not technically an open position. By that I mean that what I would be doing is not something they go around hiring for. If you use your connections wisely, you will open up your own doors. If I do nail the interview(s) and get offered the internship, I will only be able participate through May, because I have an engineering internship already lined up for the summer (which would become unfortunate should I get the former internship--but, variety is the spice of life).
Last edited by Kafkaesquire on Wed Jan 22, 2014 4:48 pm, edited 2 times in total.

mx23250
Posts: 638
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Re: How do I determine whether I'd actually enjoy Patent Law?

Postby mx23250 » Wed Jan 22, 2014 4:44 pm

Kafkaesquire wrote:
ampm wrote:
Kafkaesquire wrote:I second this. I'm in the process of interviewing for a position at my U just like the one described above. It is especially hard as a 0L to get WE at a patent law firm (as opposed to a non-patent law firm, I've been told by IP attorneys), so your best bet there seems to job shadow. Since that sucks long term, I recommend pursuing the above option.

EDIT
What I'm also excited about in the above situation is being around so many business/executive types instead of only lawyers. I want to work as in-house counsel, not in a firm, so this situation is great for me.


Yea Im very much interested in business/finance as well since I do have a background in that area. Part of this process is to see whether I'd be more interested in that side as opposed to law. Did you find it competitive to get such a position? How long do you plan on staying with it?


I have virtually no competition for the position I am vying for. Furthermore, the position I am vying for, which is technically an internship, is not technically an open position. By that I mean that what I would be doing is not something they go around hiring for. If you use your connections wisely, you will open up your own doors. If I do nail the interview(s) and get offered the internship, I will only be able participate through May, because I have an engineering internship already lined up for the summer (which would become unfortunate should I get the former internship--but, variety is the spice of life).



+1. I got my position at my U's tech transfer office through networking and personally knowing a few of the employees at the office prior to interviewing. They don't offer many positions. It seems like they get at least 5-8 applicants for every intern they hire here, most of which all have PhDs. It's definitely about who you know.
I should also point out, the reason they are so selective here (and most places) is that they're rarely ever "looking to hire" and when they do, its because someone is applying that they personally know.

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Dr. Review
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Re: How do I determine whether I'd actually enjoy Patent Law?

Postby Dr. Review » Wed Jan 22, 2014 4:54 pm

This may only happen at tech transfers for schools in proximity to a law school, but I know that my law school (Pitt) and Carnegie Mellon both took law students with patent-bar eligible backgrounds as interns. Makes getting relevant patent law experience easier for 1Ls, but harder for 0Ls.

ampm
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Re: How do I determine whether I'd actually enjoy Patent Law?

Postby ampm » Wed Jan 22, 2014 5:19 pm

Thanks for the input. I'll reach out to my uni and see if I can get in touch with their tech transfers office.

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Hinshelwood
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Re: How do I determine whether I'd actually enjoy Patent Law?

Postby Hinshelwood » Thu Jan 23, 2014 3:07 pm

0L here, but registered patent agent working in-house

I recommend going online and browsing over to one of the many patent search sites (e.g. freepatentsonline.com). Find some patents issued within the last few years related to the type of technology in which you have a background or are interested in, then head on over to PAIR: http://portal.uspto.gov/pair/PublicPair
and pull up the patent's prosecution history. YOu can download the full file wrapper in pdf form, and see the back-and-forth between the examiner and the patent attorneys. This gives you at least some insight into the written work product of the patent attorney, other than the final patent.




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