How big a difference can a phd degree make for an IP lawyer?

(Please Ask Questions and Answer Questions)
User avatar
jrwhitedog
Posts: 97
Joined: Fri Mar 20, 2009 12:34 am

How big a difference can a phd degree make for an IP lawyer?

Postby jrwhitedog » Tue Jun 22, 2010 10:42 pm

Will get my M.Eng degree by the end of this year in Canada, my major is telecommunication. My dad's friend who used to work in a big law in New York told me it would make a big difference if you have a phd degree. But I don't know if that 4 years time would be worth it cause i really don't see many partners with a phd or even a few in any big IP law firm. Can anybody give me some advice? Thanks.

User avatar
rayiner
Posts: 6184
Joined: Thu Dec 11, 2008 11:43 am

Re: How big a difference can a phd degree make for an IP lawyer?

Postby rayiner » Tue Jun 22, 2010 10:47 pm

If you have an engineering undergrad, a PhD isn't necessary. BS will do fine. If you are a chem/bio, PhD is a prerequisite.

Danneskjöld
Posts: 73
Joined: Thu Sep 03, 2009 10:54 pm

Re: How big a difference can a phd degree make for an IP lawyer?

Postby Danneskjöld » Tue Jun 22, 2010 10:58 pm

Your major is "telecommunications"? The main problem will be that not many will know exactly what that means. Here, we would just have an EE degree, and maybe your course work would be centered on communications.

Is it EE with a communications focus? Is it more mathematical, like signals and systems/DSP stuff, or is more applied circuits stuff? Or is it neither?

Regardless, in patent law, as in any legal field, what matters is: LS prestige, LS grades, then for IP, UG prestige and UG grades. The prestige + grades of your UG school will matter more than the difference between a masters and a phd most likely. When hiring lawyers, biglaw (even IP biglaw) look at your LS credentials first, and your UG engineering credentials second.

(1) Go to a top LS, and (2) get good grades. Don't waste 4 years getting a phd. If you fail to do (1) or (2), your phd won't matter anyway.

thwalls
Posts: 215
Joined: Wed Jun 10, 2009 9:28 am

Re: How big a difference can a phd degree make for an IP lawyer?

Postby thwalls » Tue Jun 22, 2010 11:04 pm

Danneskjöld wrote:Regardless, in patent law, as in any legal field, what matters is: LS prestige, LS grades, then for IP, UG prestige and UG grades. The prestige + grades of your UG school will matter more than the difference between a masters and a phd most likely. When hiring lawyers, biglaw (even IP biglaw) look at your LS credentials first, and your UG engineering credentials second.

(1) Go to a top LS, and (2) get good grades. Don't waste 4 years getting a phd. If you fail to do (1) or (2), your phd won't matter anyway.


In IP that's not necessarily true. In reality IP attorneys are hired based on their experience first and foremost. If you have hard prosecution experience the prestige and LS GPA are really a non-issue. The trick is getting that first two years experience.

Danneskjöld
Posts: 73
Joined: Thu Sep 03, 2009 10:54 pm

Re: How big a difference can a phd degree make for an IP lawyer?

Postby Danneskjöld » Tue Jun 22, 2010 11:08 pm

thwalls wrote:
Danneskjöld wrote:Regardless, in patent law, as in any legal field, what matters is: LS prestige, LS grades, then for IP, UG prestige and UG grades. The prestige + grades of your UG school will matter more than the difference between a masters and a phd most likely. When hiring lawyers, biglaw (even IP biglaw) look at your LS credentials first, and your UG engineering credentials second.

(1) Go to a top LS, and (2) get good grades. Don't waste 4 years getting a phd. If you fail to do (1) or (2), your phd won't matter anyway.


In IP that's not necessarily true. In reality IP attorneys are hired based on their experience first and foremost. If you have hard prosecution experience the prestige and LS GPA are really a non-issue. The trick is getting that first two years experience.


I work in IP. This was specifically referring to IP. I also have an EE tech UG and knew several other engineers in LS, so have experience with OP's situation. What you said may have been true back in 2004-2007, but not now, and probably not for a long time. The market is flooded, and more engineers are going to LS.

thwalls
Posts: 215
Joined: Wed Jun 10, 2009 9:28 am

Re: How big a difference can a phd degree make for an IP lawyer?

Postby thwalls » Tue Jun 22, 2010 11:11 pm

Danneskjöld wrote:
thwalls wrote:
Danneskjöld wrote:Regardless, in patent law, as in any legal field, what matters is: LS prestige, LS grades, then for IP, UG prestige and UG grades. The prestige + grades of your UG school will matter more than the difference between a masters and a phd most likely. When hiring lawyers, biglaw (even IP biglaw) look at your LS credentials first, and your UG engineering credentials second.

(1) Go to a top LS, and (2) get good grades. Don't waste 4 years getting a phd. If you fail to do (1) or (2), your phd won't matter anyway.


In IP that's not necessarily true. In reality IP attorneys are hired based on their experience first and foremost. If you have hard prosecution experience the prestige and LS GPA are really a non-issue. The trick is getting that first two years experience.


I work in IP. This was specifically referring to IP. I also have an EE tech UG and knew several other engineers in LS, so have experience with OP's situation. What you said may have been true back in 2004-2007, but not now, and probably not for a long time. The market is flooded, and more engineers are going to LS.


I just got a job in IP and what I said was directly quoted to me by my interviewers three weeks ago.

Danneskjöld
Posts: 73
Joined: Thu Sep 03, 2009 10:54 pm

Re: How big a difference can a phd degree make for an IP lawyer?

Postby Danneskjöld » Tue Jun 22, 2010 11:18 pm

thwalls wrote:
I just got a job in IP and what I said was directly quoted to me by my interviewers three weeks ago.


3 weeks ago? So in early June? Did you just graduate or class of 09? That's an odd timing, so I assume this wasn't biglaw. (congrats on landing a job in this market btw). I would believe that smaller prosecution shops would care more about prosecution experience.

That said, from everything I've seen most biglaw shops care about LS credentials first and foremost. Boutique hiring is much more difficult to predict (as I'm sure you can agree) because the decisions are much more individualized, and experience is probably much more important.

thwalls
Posts: 215
Joined: Wed Jun 10, 2009 9:28 am

Re: How big a difference can a phd degree make for an IP lawyer?

Postby thwalls » Tue Jun 22, 2010 11:23 pm

Danneskjöld wrote:
thwalls wrote:
I just got a job in IP and what I said was directly quoted to me by my interviewers three weeks ago.


3 weeks ago? So in early June? Did you just graduate or class of 09? That's an odd timing, so I assume this wasn't biglaw. (congrats on landing a job in this market btw). I would believe that smaller prosecution shops would care more about prosecution experience.

That said, from everything I've seen most biglaw shops care about LS credentials first and foremost. Boutique hiring is much more difficult to predict (as I'm sure you can agree) because the decisions are much more individualized, and experience is probably much more important.


It's a midlaw boutique firm that only does IP related work. I just graduated with my PhD in Organic Chemistry from UVA and I passed the patent bar in May. I'm starting law school in the Fall part-time. It was funny though, my one interviewer sat down with me and said, "we're happy that you have your PhD since we don't even read resumes that don't include that." I couldn't believe how honest they were.

Edit: THANKS! As a side note, I really have no interest in biglaw since I'm going to be doing my degree part time. Most biglaw firms, if they hire technical advisors/patent agents, usually require 1950+ billable hours and only reduce your hourly requirement while you're in school to about 1650 (from what I've heard). This firm said that their billable hour requirement is 1700 and while I'm in school it's reduced to 1350 which should make things at least a little easier.




Return to “Law School FAQ”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Bing [Bot] and 2 guests