Scientist type interested in IP law

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madscientist
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Scientist type interested in IP law

Postby madscientist » Fri Jan 15, 2010 9:36 pm

For a variety or reasons I intend to go to law school in the near future - my plan is to specialize in IP Law. I am geographically challenged for personal reasons so I'll apply to two schools in the local area - one is top 20 the other top 100. I have a BS from Purdue in Chemistry, a PhD in Chemistry from Berkeley, and 15 years experience in research and management with 25 published papers and patents.

Basically I think I can get into the regional school and hope to get into the top 20. I was wondering if anyone knew whether scholarships were easier to get with post-graduate degrees on the resume. I've some anecdotal evidence that it helps but nothing I'd rely on. I've also been told that firms with an IP emphasis will often employ people with advanced science degrees and pay for their tuition and living expenses. This would be ideal as I could attend the better school. I might be able to get my employer to pay tuition - they have a repayment policy if pre-approved - but then I'd have to attend the regional school and do an evening program.

Basically - I'm more concerned with the logistics of getting through law school given I can get into the regional school and possibly the better local school. Anyone out there have advice/experience in this area?

Renzo
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Re: Scientist type interested in IP law

Postby Renzo » Fri Jan 15, 2010 10:14 pm

There are real scientists on this board who might be able to answer this. I have not heard of many IP-specific scholarships (NYU does have one), but that might be because I wasn't looking (not being a science nerd myself). I will say that I have seen a TON of postings for 1L summer jobs for MA/PhD's pursuing JD's at top school, and there are basically no 1L jobs for anyone else. This isn't scholarship money per se, but you could make almost $40k in a summer.

09042014
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Re: Scientist type interested in IP law

Postby 09042014 » Fri Jan 15, 2010 10:19 pm


Leeroy Jenkins
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Re: Scientist type interested in IP law

Postby Leeroy Jenkins » Fri Jan 15, 2010 11:07 pm

Firms will only do that if you go to school part-time. You work as a patent agent full time. They aren't going to ship you off to some school to study full time.

madscientist
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Re: Scientist type interested in IP law

Postby madscientist » Fri Jan 15, 2010 11:13 pm

Lxw wrote:Firms will only do that if you go to school part-time. You work as a patent agent full time. They aren't going to ship you off to some school to study full time.


That was my assumption - I've been around the block a few times so to speak. I was actually planning on passing the patent bar after applying this next fall. My current employer would probably float this if I went part time but the only close PT-JD program is at a regional school which may be fine if my PhD carries more weight than my JD for job apps.

Renzo
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Re: Scientist type interested in IP law

Postby Renzo » Sat Jan 16, 2010 12:23 pm

madscientist wrote:
Lxw wrote:Firms will only do that if you go to school part-time. You work as a patent agent full time. They aren't going to ship you off to some school to study full time.


That was my assumption - I've been around the block a few times so to speak. I was actually planning on passing the patent bar after applying this next fall. My current employer would probably float this if I went part time but the only close PT-JD program is at a regional school which may be fine if my PhD carries more weight than my JD for job apps.

I would think about it this way: If your employer pays, the only potential loss to you is time spent studying. You'll still be employable in your current field in the worst-case legal job scenario, and you'd have no additional debt. Most law students have no work experience and will be incurring huge debt, so if law doesn't work out they have no fallback and huge payments. The standard advice about what schools are "worth it" doesn't apply to you, because the risk/reward assessment is completely different in your case.

thwalls
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Re: Scientist type interested in IP law

Postby thwalls » Sat Jan 16, 2010 12:52 pm

You are in the exact same position that I was in about a year and a half ago. I've got a BS in Chemistry from a small liberal arts school and my PhD from UVA. I applied to schools in the philadelphia area since that's where I want to stay long after I graduate, so a regional school would have weight (Temple, Rutgers, U. of Maryland, Seton Hall, Widener).

Having been accepted at Temple, I'm about to send out my cover letter and resume to about 30 law firms in philly to act as a technical specialist. In the mean time I'm planning on studying to take the patent bar, but that's still going to be a lot of work.

I'm planning on having to pay sticker price at Temple and not get my hopes up about a law firm covering my tuition. I know that was the norm, say, 5-7 years ago, but the economy has smashed the legal market. I'm not saying those positions don't exist, I'm just saying they're a lot harder to find. A friend of mine who has guided me through this process works for a major law firm where I'm at now in DC, and he has informed me to hope for a law firm, but plan on getting hired at a tech transfer office for a research hospital or university.

The other factor you have to remember is that in terms of applying to law school, you PhD will give a slight edge, and I mean that if you're on the waitlist/accept threshold it might tilt you toward accept. Your advanced degree will count for almost nothing, and your publications/patents will also be a non-factor. That was the hardest thing for me to accept in this whole process coming from a successful science background. You can actually check out my previous posts under my name, and you'll see how my perspective has changed.

I would say that if you want to do this, really think hard about whether you want to work full-time and go to class four nights a week. And if you have a family, like I do, make sure they're on board with it too. I'm not really worried about the course work, because I feel that if I can pass PChem then law school will be a walk in the park, but there will still be a lot of time involved.

The only other option is to bite the bullet and go to school full time and pay out of pocket (assuming you don't get a big scholarship) for your living expenses and tuition meaning big fat loans. I had this option suggested to me by a few adcomms at the DC law fair.

For me this was an a tough decision, but after finding out that I would need at least four years of post-doc experience to find a big pharma job, I figured that law school would be the better investment. I know that sounds funny to non-scientists, but remember, a post-doc does not count as work experience and they usually pay only 30-35k a year to work 12-16 hour days. At least if I went to law school part time and worked full time, I'd get some real experience with a law firm and have a few years invested with said law firm.

If this is what you want then good luck, and remember: You can't change your undergrad GPA, so study your butt off for the LSAT and go to the best school you can.

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even2flow
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Re: Scientist type interested in IP law

Postby even2flow » Sat Jan 16, 2010 1:16 pm

Slight detour of the thread, but I'll get back to the point in like two seconds.

thwalls wrote:I'm not really worried about the course work, because I feel that if I can pass PChem then law school will be a walk in the park, but there will still be a lot of time involved.


It sucks that those quantum mechanics classes I got an A in end up not meaning anything to adcomms. Oh well, such is life.

thwalls wrote:For me this was an a tough decision, but after finding out that I would need at least four years of post-doc experience to find a big pharma job, I figured that law school would be the better investment. I know that sounds funny to non-scientists, but remember, a post-doc does not count as work experience and they usually pay only 30-35k a year to work 12-16 hour days. At least if I went to law school part time and worked full time, I'd get some real experience with a law firm and have a few years invested with said law firm.


I currently work for big pharma, and it's not all it's cracked up to be. Money's not even that great at the highest level, because as a PhD there's gonna be a glass ceiling eventually (not to mention if you're only a BS or MA, then that ceiling is a lot lower), but they like to hire business people for the top end positions because at the end of the day, that's exactly what it is: a business. Which means all your scientific merit and ideas have to be ok'd by someone who has never heard the word "chiral." Also, pharma jobs are in the hole right now for PhDs too. Most pharma have been cleaning house, and there's a huge influx of PhDs, which makes getting a job next to impossible. And then yeah, you're stuck in a post doc for many years before you're even allowed to enter the bottom level of a company where, realistically, you'll probably die of old age before you see any major career movement.

That being said, that's why I am looking to law school as well. I looked into options like working for a firm to see if they would let me work full time and attend school in the evenings, and while this works for a few people I know, I opted against it since I'm (moderately) young and don't have anything tying me anywhere. For you, though, the evening choice sounds like your best bet, getting through the patent bar and getting a job as a patent agent to have the firm pay for your evening classes is working for a few people I know, and they seem to really enjoy it. Plus they have a guaranteed job when they get out and no debt. So...win-win.

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englawyer
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Re: Scientist type interested in IP law

Postby englawyer » Sun Jan 17, 2010 9:30 pm

ropes and gray (boston) has a technical advisor option where you can attend a boston school FT while working at the law firm. i'm intrigued by a path like the one you are considering but don't want to be pigeonholed into patent prosecution quite yet (and I only have a MS, and a useless one at that).




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