Law School Discussion

Deciding Where to Go => Choosing the Right Law School => Topic started by: Dean_I on January 19, 2002, 02:25:55 AM

Title: Best schools for IP?
Post by: Dean_I on January 19, 2002, 02:25:55 AM
Does anyone know what the best schools for IP are?  Is it better to go to a school that is known for it's IP department or one that is known overall?  (Assuming I definitly want to do IP law.)
Title: Re: Best schools for IP?
Post by: Geek on February 22, 2002, 04:01:02 PM
I have gotten some advice from patent lawyers and they say to go to the best school possible. IP firms will train you on the job so it doesn't really matter how good the IP program is at your law school.
Title: Re: Best schools for IP?
Post by: brian on February 13, 2003, 10:07:09 AM
I have a good friend a George Mason - the school just broke into the top tier and have an excelent IP program (proximity to the patent office and all that).  He likes it and has confirmed good work in DC for his 2L summer.
Title: Re: Best schools for IP?
Post by: Pun on February 14, 2003, 02:33:41 AM
Dean, Geek, is correct: you should attend the best law school you can get in to. Firms, will train you on the job for IP law. It's better to attend a tier one law school than a school that has strong "IP program". Provided that you have good grades in law school, you'll have a much easier time getting a job at a good law school compared to a school that has only a good IP program.
Title: Re: Best schools for IP?
Post by: Andrew on February 15, 2003, 03:40:05 AM
I agree, but don't forget that (generally) you need a science or engineering degree to sit for the patent bar.  Firms won't train you in that respect - in fact, most won't even talk to you.

That said, the bar is lower for patent attorneys in terms of grades / class rank.  You don't need to do as well in law school to get patent jobs the most prestigious firms.  It makes sense because the applicant pool is much smaller - only a certain (small) percentage of law students qualify for the patent bar.
Title: Re: Best schools for IP?
Post by: Pun on February 16, 2003, 01:17:56 AM
Eh, Andrew, I am aware that you attend an excellent school for studying Intellectual property. I have a science background but I was under the impression that most patent attorney had at least a Masters or PHD's in science. Further, I heard the patent bar is very tough it's failure rate is high.  
Title: Re: Best schools for IP?
Post by: dogtown on February 16, 2003, 03:03:59 PM

You definately do not need a postgrad science degree to sit for the patent bar.  I think a lot of people do have them, but not the majority.  A lot of people end up getting a technical masters because they have an undergrad that does not qualify them to sit for the patent bar.  My law school offers a one year computer science masters for just such people.  A BS degree is enough though.

Its true that the patent bar typically does have a very low passing rate - between 17 and 40 percent!  However, this last exams numbers were much higher, something like 63 percent.  

This high number is very unusual.  Apparently they needed to admit a lot of people fast.  I would not be suprised if next time the rate drops way back down.  Either that or the rate will stay high again and then drop down.  I therefore think it would be smart to take the exam as soon as possible, because the high number is bound to come back down.
Title: Re: Best schools for IP?
Post by: kundun on May 12, 2003, 05:25:20 AM
Franklin Pierce has a strong IP program
Title: Re: Best schools for IP?
Post by: Andrew on May 13, 2003, 02:20:53 PM
Pun - never noticed your reply until today - when I said that the bar was lower I didn't mean the actual BAR - I meant the standards for getting a big-firm job.  I can see how my post is misleading.

I don't know anything about the patent bar exam except that you need the science or engineering degree.  (I don't have one.)  What I do know is that I have a lot of friends that got great jobs at patent attorney's based on their undergrad degrees and average grades.  It was much easier for them than for eveyone else.
Title: Re: Best schools for IP?
Post by: texasjd on May 30, 2003, 04:42:04 AM
OK, so how about an MBA in Information Systems with 4+ years of IT (mainly IT support in international law firms).  I am pursuing litigation support/computer forensics, and I strongly believe that an MBA, JD and IT experience will help.  Given these goals, which schools do you recommend?  Contructive criticism is welcomed!! :)
Title: Re: Best schools for IP?
Post by: One Year masters in CS? on June 04, 2003, 03:46:37 PM
Dogtown....which school are you going to that has the one year program? What other schools have one year technical masters programs to qualify people for the patent bar exam?

Title: Re: Best schools for IP?
Post by: josh on June 05, 2003, 02:03:25 AM
Ok, first off, as far as which school: go to the best school possible. If it's a near tie, then you can look at the specialty rankings. But those aren't all that important for the most part, so make it a low priority factor in your decision.

Re: Big firm job
These days, and likely for the future, merely having a scientific degree that qualifies you for the Patent Bar is not going to be the pearl you might think it is. IP departments now want *specific* degrees. These include: EE, CompE, CS, ChemE, Biotech (biochem, molec bio, etc) w/PhD...somewhat lower now is Mech Engr.

And they WILL take a look at those scientific transcripts. Did you take requisite calculus? Was your CS degree mathematical, or was it a 4 year software program? How good was your engineering school? All of these things count, and frankly, I don't see how a 1 year CS program where a BS is not needed could be any help at all. Unless they pack in that much calculus, physics, data structures, algorithms, graph theory, computer architecture, etc into one year (which would make roughly for 2 35 hour semesters)...I don't see how that program will make you all that marketable. You probably will be marginally better off than the Food Science candidate.

What can you do to help yourself? Well, taking the Patent Bar while in law school might help, but I wouldn't recommend it until your 2nd year. Grades will be much more important. Other than that, short of getting a bachelor's in another subject, there's not much you can do. Patent law consists of analyzing circuit schematics, block diagrams, and calculus equations. Not only will you need to understand this stuff thoroughly, but your clients won't feel comfortable with you if they don't believe you have the background for that kind of thing.
Title: Re: Best schools for IP?
Post by: josh on June 05, 2003, 03:29:03 AM
"While it is possible to take the patent bar exam after completing 32  hard science credits, it would seem that a hiring advantage would go to the candidate that would be satisfying some very specific niche requirements, however just like any other job interview, in any other field, preference is going to go to the candidate that most closely represents the individual most likely to be able to do the work."

This would be the EE, CompE, biotech w/PhD, etc. that I mentioned. Want evidence of this? Check out Fish and Richardson's (top IP firm) current openings. They mention "electrical" 8 of 9 times they name anything.

"This would not exclusively recommend a candidate with no work experience, fresh from a University"

Work experience in engineering/science is a bonus, but certainly not a prerequisite.

"Others who may have graduated with something other than a hard science degree, but have, for one reason or another, found themselves employed in a more technical capacity (the computer support/IT helpdesk field is a good example of this) represent candidates who have found themselves employable in an unexpected, but nevertheless needed and technically sophisticated position."

If this is regarding IP - no, IT work will not help you here. If it's regarding Computer Forensic Law, I have no idea.

"but I would also submit that not all patent attorneys spend every day doing complex mathmatics, and reading cirquitry diagrams. While this may be a very necessary skill,"

No one said they do it all day. But, they must be able to talk about these things in their patent claims. So yes, it is a very necessary skill.

"and as it might be a much better use of their time to focus on the legal aspects of a particular case, and more or less "outsource" some of the more technical aspects to a qualified professional"

There are patent agents who do a lot of this, but without exception, the best IP firms would prefer to hire attorneys with scientific backgrounds, all things equal.

If you want evidence of this, search through the patent departments of these firms. See how many people have no technical background.
Title: Re: Best schools for IP?
Post by: josh on June 05, 2003, 08:18:06 AM
"just that combined work experience and an accelerated masters program may serve as a sufficiently viable alternative to going back to school, as it is nearly impossible anymore to return to college for a 2nd undergraduate degree, "

These guys likely won't have equal footing either, and it would also be surprising if the one year would be enough to hit all of the minimum credit hour requirements.

"to essentialize the practice of patent law as a field for electrical engineers is, I believe, misleading. "

It's not just for EEs. I was just stating where the most demand is.

"While you may be right as to whether working as a Network administrator translates immediately into a job as an IP attorney upon passage of the patent bar, someone who could have worked as a technical writer, and who had only an english degree upong graduation, and who is actively assembling information for a specific technical industry might be considered an asset to a firm dealing in patent litigation, or at least the case can be made that people that follow a different career path can achieve success as patent attorneys. "

I could see this person as an asset, but none of this stuff qualifies them to practice before the USPTO. Firms would rather have people who can do that sort of thing. When given the choice between someone who took the bare minimum of classes, or someone with a 4 year program (possibly an adv. degree as well), they'll take the latter, all things being equal.

Can you get into patent law without the scientific background? Yeah, probably. But it's probably not easy. Carl Oppendahl has a good site on this stuff (I think it's
Title: Re: Best schools for IP?
Post by: rtjm373 on June 05, 2003, 12:41:10 PM
Thanks for the link Josh. Good stuff there.

I still subscribe to the old "Where there's a will, there's a way"
approach, but your insights are helpful nevertheless.

Title: Re: Best schools for IP?
Post by: meg_79 on June 13, 2003, 07:22:09 AM
You all seem to know a lot more about this stuff than I do, and I really enjoyed reading your comments. So now I have a question maybe you can give me an opinion on. (I just took the LSAT and am deciding where to apply for fall '04)

I was planning to start law school aiming for IP, but admitting that I might change my mind. Now after reading your posts, and information on the us patent office website I am wondering if this is possible, and further, if I have as good of a future in this as I first imagined.

I have an undergrad degree from one of the top schools in the country for Computer Science. I also will have three years of work experience as a software engineer by the time I start law school.

According to the patent office website, Computer Science majors are only allowed to sit for the exam if they are from an accredited school. My school, apparently, even though it was ranked 1st in the country for CS, is not accredited. I think I meet all the other requirements, 8 credits chem etc. that I could qualify under Category B. However, I wonder how difficult it is to qualify under Category B, like will they give me a hard time becuase I am not from an accredited school.

And additionally, will employers be impressed by my schools standing in CS, or unimpressed with my CS (i.e. NOT engineering degree)?

Thanks for any opinions that you have,

Title: Re: Best schools for IP?
Post by: josh on June 16, 2003, 04:33:26 AM
Hey Meg, I don't think you'll have a problem. The biggest issue with you is whether or not you took the same math and physics as the engineers did at your school. I would assume this is the case. Another issue is how theoretical your program was. Did you spend most of your time learning code, or most of the time learning algorithms?

Firms will want to see that you've taken the same math and physics as the engineers, and that you've also had a theory-based program. I can probably assume the latter, given the strength of your UG program. That said, coupled with your work experience, you will be very marketable after graduation.

EE/CS is the best field to go into. You have 2 ingredients that firms look for already - work exp, and a top notch education. Add to that a top tier law school, and good grades, and you'll have plenty of options.

Re: the patent bar, I think if you make sure to contact the uspto early (you may want to give them a call now, to see if you qualify, or if you can send transcripts in to see if you qualify), you'll be fine. Firms might want to know whether or not you'll qualify, so do this beforehand. Also, firms will likely want to see your UG transcript as well, to see what kind of classes you took in CS. All in all though, you'll do fine (btw, which school? I ask, b/c I also went to one of those schools. CMU? MIT? Stanford? Berkeley? Dare I say, UIUC? :))
Title: Re: Best schools for IP?
Post by: meg_79 on June 16, 2003, 06:31:08 AM
Thanks, that is what I was hoping to hear :) About that good school, with the good grades, I still have to hear about my LSAT; I am anxiously awaiting that. And I am hoping that some schools will take into account the quality of my UG school when they look at my 3.0 :(

It was CMU, and yes it was very theoretical. I believe I took most of the math and science classes that engineers took, I am not sure exactly what their requirements were, but I suspect if they differed, that it was only by one or two math classes.

I just started getting worried when I read that my school wasnt accredited. A friend of mine who is a prof and just went through accreditation, said that she was told that some of the best schools dont bother with the accreditation becuase their reputation carries them, so they dont want the hassle and expense.

By the way, I am sure I am just not thinking straight on this Monday morning, but which school does UIUC stand for?

Title: Re: Best schools for IP?
Post by: josh on June 16, 2003, 07:28:01 AM
You will have no trouble. CMU is a pretty highly regarded program. You're right, most top programs don't bother with accreditation, because it really only helps you in patent law...which of course most CS majors don't do.

"And I am hoping that some schools will take into account the quality of my UG school when they look at my 3.0"

They won't. :( I majored in electrical engineering, got a 3.4, and got no boost out of it at all (LSAT = 164, only Top 25 school I'm in at is WashU. By comparison, what if they looked at it as a 3.7-3.8? Those numbers seem to be landing people within the Top 20...certainly at all the schools above that). It sucks, but these schools are primarily interested in what a silly magazine thinks about them (yes, the irony is noted here). This really attracts the wrong kinds of people to the top law schools IMO...but hey, I'm not in charge.

The good news is your pedigree/grades won't have to be *as* good as everyone else's in order to secure a good job. Your UG wasn't all for *&^% after all (though, it feels like it was to someone who just went through the app process).

UIUC = my alma mater = University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. I wouldn't say we have the top CS program, but we're in the Top 5 or so. Usually, I hear the top programs are at CMU, MIT, Stanford, and Berkeley. We probably follow those guys though.

Eh, it's CS. EE is waaaaay better ;).
Title: Re: Best schools for IP?
Post by: meg_79 on June 16, 2003, 11:49:10 AM
Yeah I figured about the grades, it all hinges on my LSAT - which unfortunately I dont feel great about.  (I did really well on SAT, GRE but this one just didnt feel good.)

FIL (who hates me by the way) went to UPenn, and of course feels that if I am serious, and smart that that is where I should go. Obviously, with a 3.0, I dont have much of a shot. Maybe if I get a 170+ and leverage his connections somehow who knows, but right now I am not thinking that score is going to happen. I am thinking about not even applying there though, because it would be better to tell him I am not interested than to get turned down.

Anyway, I really want to go somewhere in DC - Georgetown of course being my top choice, but again, not much of a shot there. But maybe at George Mason, or American, or GW, although all but George Mason are pretty much long shots for me, I think. I am not considering any schools outside the PA/DC/NY corridor. Long story but basically, we live in AZ now and all our fam is back east, so we want to move back.

So are you going to WashU?

Title: Re: Best schools for IP?
Post by: josh on June 16, 2003, 01:47:02 PM
Well, once you get your LSAT back, what I would do is apply to 2-3 schools you're sure to get into that you wouldn't mind attending. Then apply on up the list. I had 0% chance at NYU, Columbia, Boalt, etc... I'm still glad I applied. No hail marys, but at least I'm not wondering.

My advice would be to not tell the FIL if you decide to apply to UPenn.

It's hard to give you advice without knowing your LSAT, but I think you will definitely be able to go to a T1 school if you did ok on the LSAT. Obviously you're bright - it's not like mediocre students can pull those grades taking CS at CMU. A 167-169 gives you a fighting chance at the Top 14, and anything higher gives more room.

WashU? No, I turned them down for BU. The impression I got from patent attorneys I contacted was that despite the 28 ranking, BU was the more highly regarded, more national school. I'm not really looking for a part of the country to practice in...I'd rather make that decision based almost completely on the firm itself. It was a tough decision - I've been to StL several times and I love it...and I got a much better feel from WashU than when I visited BU. But, I figured if jobhunting didn't go well, for whatever reason, at WashU, I might kick myself for it and regret turning down BU. I think I'm less likely to do that at BU.

However, if any of my waitlists (UIUC, GW, USC, Vandy...though I hear Vandy isn't pulling anybody) come through, I'm not going to BU. They all offer advantages I can't pass up (UIUC is instate tuition for me, USC is probably the best idea for working in CA...and if I had to pick a "where", it's in LA, and GW is much more national than BU is).
Title: Re: Best schools for IP?
Post by: meg_79 on June 30, 2003, 09:25:01 AM
Well I got my LSAT back. I am not thrilled, I was hoping for a 170, but I got a 166. So I am not too disappointed, it is 95 percentile.

So I crossed Georgetown off the list, even though I really want to go there, my chance is about 10% so I dont know if it is worth the price to apply.

Now my list is GWU, Goerge Mason, American, William and Mary, Penn and Temple. I am sure I can get into temple, and I have a real good shot at George Mason and American.

At Penn my chance is like 12-21%, dont know if it is worth applying there either. What do you think? Sounds like you would say I should try for both Penn and Georgetown just so I know.

Title: Re: Best schools for IP?
Post by: josh on June 30, 2003, 05:47:55 PM
First off, congrats to your score. I know you're disappointed, but in the grand scheme of things, this is pretty good. Think of where you'd be if you scored a lowly 164 :). I know how you feel though...the morning telescore went up, I assured my mom that practice exams were perfectly good indicators. "Worst case scenario, if *&^% really hits the fan", I said, "I'll have a 165." Life's fully of little jokes, I guess.

Penn is a longshot, but like you said, if you don't apply, you'll never know. I think you have a great shot at GW[1], and I'm pulling for you. This year, it seems the magic number is 165 (I'm the girl no one asked to the prom, it seems). The one piece of advice I have for you is to really try and take everything in stride. As someone who's been told that they're not good enough 19 times, it can get demoralizing. You're bright and clever, and you have a hell of a career ahead of you if you put the same amount of work into it that you've put into your education so far. Good luck.


[1] GW is one school that keeps getting brought up in IP fields. While IP firms love Harvard grads just like everyone else, it seems that once outside the Top 14, GW is the one mentioned. Seriously, look at every top IP firm. I haven't found one that doesn't recruit at GW. It's an underrated school, IMO (hopefully, they'll let me in off a waitlist...I hate not hearing anything...).
Title: Re: Best schools for IP?
Post by: meg_79 on July 01, 2003, 07:25:26 AM
Thanks! Good luck with the wait list.

I think GW and William and Mary are my two top choices right now. I have a policy of aim high but don't EXPECT too much, just in case you get let down. So while IF I were accepted Penn would probably be my top choice, I plan to focus my enthusiasm on GW and William and Mary becuase I actually have a shot there. That way Penn would be a pleasant surprise not a devasting disappointment.

It worked for me for undergrad. Much like every other student at CMU, I applied and wanted to go to MIT. But I didnt get too enthusiastic about it becuase I didnt have much chance. (I did get waitlisted - which I guess is better than outright rejection) anyway my point is that I think I am leaning towards GW as my top choice: it is in DC and a great regional, as well as a decent national school. And I plan to stay in the region anyway.

Right now my big descision is if I should take my graduate anthropology classes this fall semester or not. I mean what is the point really, if I am just going to drop out to go to law school. On the other hand, I was hoping that taking a second class with one prof that I really liked might get me a good recommendation from him. Plus, what if for some reason I dont get into any law school? On the other hand, if I dont take classes I will have more time to focus on my applications - ugh the essays! (I was planning to be a full time grad student this semester, along with working full time. It would just be a lot more relaxed without that. Not to mention I would save $2000 in tuition - which I will undoubtedly need for law school) I might jsut take the one class with that prof for the recommendation, I dont know. Sorry for rambling.

Anyway, good luck with your wait lists, but BU is a great school too.

Title: Re: Best schools for IP?
Post by: josh on July 03, 2003, 07:05:18 AM
Anthropology? Can't help you there...

Ah yes, the coveted MIT. I nailed my interview, but sadly, my interviewer saw me the next day hanging out at a gas station at 10 am on a Thursday. He probably assumed I was skipping class (in reality, I didn't have class then, and our school didn't require we hang around)...ah, who am I kidding...I wasn't getting into MIT no matter what.

Good luck with applications. Hopefully, you'll get into plenty of schools.