Patent Attorneys Help! - Career Advice

Discussion in 'After Hours Lounge (Off Topic)' started by Erich_S, Mar 11, 2004.

  1. Erich_S

    Erich_S Extra

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    I know I've seen a couple patent attorneys post here in the past, so I'm hoping some of you see this.

    My wife has just been accepted to law school with the intention of studying IP law. She's got a Master's degree in Chemical Engineering and a few years work experience in semiconductor manufacturing and at a high-tech startup. I'm also an engineer, so we're definitely thinking about all the changes in the technology job market that will be happening over the next 20-30 years.

    Frankly, the acceptance to law school was kind of a shock to both of us; neither was expecting the thin(!) envelope yesterday with her acceptance letter (so much for that 'thick envelope = good' rule of thumb). We're thinking our way through the money and family issues, but could use some insight on the career part of it.

    So now with the questions:
    - How's the IP job market look from the inside? Even with rising law school admission, it looks good from the outside, considering that 98 of the 100 people in the room taking the LSAT with my wife last year were hoping to study corporate law, while she was the only one interested in IP.

    - Is it possible to be a successful IP attorney without being a bloodthirsty litigator? She's somewhat introverted and actually enjoys research, writing, and paperwork. Will she be able to carve herself a niche as attorney, or will she just be treated as a well-qualified Patent Agent? Is that even really a bad thing?

    - What is the worklife like? We've read the stories about super-long hours for starting attorneys. How is the law industry accepting new technologies and telecommuting?

    Thanks for reading and please bring up anything we haven't thought about.

    -Erich
     
  2. Tom Meyer

    Tom Meyer Second Unit

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    All I can probably tell you is that you and your wife are gonna be able to afford some pretty sweet new home theater gear in a few years. IP attorneys make major coin.
     
  3. Leo Hinze

    Leo Hinze Stunt Coordinator

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    I am anxiously awaiting admit decisions from 4 of 5 law schools I applied to. I have been accepted at one so far. I work at the patent office, and I am thinking of specializing in IP law.

    I know that Dennis Nicholls posts here often, and he is a patent attorney with lots of good advice.

    From talking to attorneys in the field, you can be as bloodthirsty as you want. I've heard at larger firms and/or firms that specialize in IP, some of the competition for billable hours can be a bit cutthroat, but in general, you should be able to find a firm of the size and mentatlity that matches your own.

    There's also the option of working for a corporation.

    I'm sure Dennis will have much more insight once he discovers this thread.

    Congrats to your wife on the acceptance!
     
  4. Erik.Ha

    Erik.Ha Supporting Actor

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    It is what you make it... Young lawyers are "encouraged" to put in long hours.... Surprise surprise... Telecommuting is common among partners... but young associates need to engage in "face time."
     
  5. Holadem

    Holadem Lead Actor

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    Long term goal here. But gotta stick to EE for a coupla more years.

    --
    H
     
  6. Dennis Nicholls

    Dennis Nicholls Lead Actor

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    You have to be careful here. The masters doesn't count for qualifying for the patent bar. What exactly is the title of the undergraduate degree?


    As in getting your job outsourced. I worked as a defense engineer for about 20 years, but saw my career options vanish when the USSR broke up. Becoming a patent attorney is one way to leverage technical skills into something that can't be outsourced. But it's a lot of bloody hard work.
     
  7. Yee-Ming

    Yee-Ming Producer

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    A colleague told me that she once met a Japanese patent attorney at a conference. He and his wife live at the Ritz Carlton [​IMG]

    And a partner once told me, he was comparing billing rate with a German patent attorney: his rate at the time was S$500 (US$300), the German's was DM2000 (around US$1,000 I guess).

    Dennis has already covered the bases. All I can add is, I used to handle IP litigation, but have no specialised technical training: a litigation lawyer often has to learn the subject matter of the case "on-the-job". I once got a 3-day crash course in the inner workings of PCs (from a hardware point of view), when we were about to start a patent infringement action. And I also got to learn all about soundcards for another case.
     
  8. LDfan

    LDfan Supporting Actor

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    My wife works for a huge law firm that practices only IP law. Since she's the accountant for them she knows how much everyone rakes in and it's quite a lot.
    Starting salaries on average will be just over 120k for a first year associate. The hours are long. I believe they have to bill at least 2100 hours a year or something like that.
    Partners make lots more.

    Jeff
     
  9. Mark Zimmer

    Mark Zimmer Producer

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    Practicing law in a university town, I can tell you that patent attorneys are pretty much "write your own ticket" here. No need for litigating; large firms that have a patent dept. have litigators to do that for you. [​IMG]

    But Dennis' advice about looking into the requirements for the patent bar are well taken. They're not intuitive and she may need to pick up some classes to meet the requirements and may as well do that ASAP. But engineering is obviously a good place to start. Taking a class in biotechnical engineering (if she hasn't already) would probably be useful in any event since that's a good bet to be a growth industry in the future.
     
  10. tiffany

    tiffany Auditioning

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    Have you heard of PrePaid Legal? Its pretty amazing - you get all the legal advice you want for $26 a month - I'm not here to advertise - I'm just saying that I use it and love it. But you can talk to like a hundred IP lawyers and find out first hand what they're lifestyles are like in addition to asking about ANY legal issue. If you're interested I have a friend that can connect you.
     

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