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Author Topic: In IP Law, How Much Does School Matter?  (Read 2005 times)

epicac

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In IP Law, How Much Does School Matter?
« on: March 19, 2008, 10:45:05 AM »
Hi Everyone,

I was wondering about IP law and how much your school determines your job prospects.  What I'm effectively asking is, how sizable is the gap in opportunities between IP grads of a T1 school and T3 school?  Is it larger or smaller than the gulf between graduates of other types of law (international, criminal, etc.)?

I'm under the impression that since IP lawyers are hard to find, it doesn't matter as much where you went to school, as you would've had to have a science degree (in my case, Bioengineering) and pass the patent bar.  Notice that I'm not saying "it doesn't matter," just asking how much it does matter.

Thanks!
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Majmun

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Re: In IP Law, How Much Does School Matter?
« Reply #1 on: March 19, 2008, 11:47:14 AM »
If you are an EE it matters a lot less.  Bioengineering isn't in big demand so school matters more.  Also when people talk about the demand for IP lawyers they are typically referring to patent prosecution.  If you are looking to do patent prosecution with a bioengineering degree you'll typically need an advanced degree to be competitive.  That doesn't mean you won't find a job without one, but it will be more difficult.  10-15 years ago IP lawyers were harder to find, these days the Bio side is flooded and competitive.  Likely due to PhD's leaving the bench and looking for other careers.

newjaytdot

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Re: In IP Law, How Much Does School Matter?
« Reply #2 on: March 19, 2008, 11:58:00 AM »
You are speaking about a specific facet of IP law, namely patent law.  More specifically, it seems that you're addressing a particular position within of the practice of patent law, which is that of a federal patent officer. 

You do NOT need to have a technical degree to practice IP law, since it includes copyright law, trademark law, trade secret law, patent law, and more.  Many and most IP lawyers who specialize in patent law do in fact come from a technical background (sciences, engineering),  and in many cases a BS degree is a sort of prerequisite for a patent position in a firm. 

If you are planning on going becoming a patent lawyer, your undergrad background will likely count very much.  You might be able to use your undergraduate background to leverage a position at a better firm coming from a lesser law school. 

The days of few IP lawyers are over.  I estimate that by the time you and I are practicing, IP lawyers will almost be a dime a dozen.  They most certainly will be in 15 years. 

epicac

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Re: In IP Law, How Much Does School Matter?
« Reply #3 on: March 19, 2008, 12:54:31 PM »
these days the Bio side is flooded and competitive.  Likely due to PhD's leaving the bench and looking for other careers.

Ah, see I'm one of the reasons why it's flooding.  I've been a bioengineer in a neuroscience lab and it just isn't all it's cracked up to be.  The medical business is just out of control, and research is no different - everyone tries to do the vogue research and they trump up every result like it's a breakthrough, just to get bigger monitors on their computers.  \

So I guess your answer is that it's just as flooded and competitive as everything else.  Thanks!  ;)
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epicac

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Re: In IP Law, How Much Does School Matter?
« Reply #4 on: March 19, 2008, 01:02:05 PM »
You are speaking about a specific facet of IP law, namely patent law.  More specifically, it seems that you're addressing a particular position within of the practice of patent law, which is that of a federal patent officer. 

If you are planning on going becoming a patent lawyer, your undergrad background will likely count very much.  You might be able to use your undergraduate background to leverage a position at a better firm coming from a lesser law school. 

The days of few IP lawyers are over.  I estimate that by the time you and I are practicing, IP lawyers will almost be a dime a dozen.  They most certainly will be in 15 years. 

Ah, It makes sense now.  I think the reason I call IP "patent law" is because people have repeatedly suggested it over the years, because of my ugrad major.  But, in all fairness, it was a few years back, before people went grad degree crazy.  In fact, I jumped into the job market right after my BS because everyone I knew it was a hot major and I needed to get experience lickety-split.  Looks like I missed the boat on patent law.  The first boat at least :)

However, I've heard the life of a patent examiner is no different than my current career anyway, salary aside.  In other words, I'd still be in a lab environment with a bunch of antisocial oddballs.

Well, I guess that's why I was hoping for 'Dozo, oh well, que sera, sera.
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newjaytdot

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Re: In IP Law, How Much Does School Matter?
« Reply #5 on: March 19, 2008, 03:10:53 PM »
I don't think you've missed the boat on patent law whatsoever.  You're probably going to be hitting the market about a year or two before it gets really crowded.  At any rate, the industries that are growing the fastest are the ones in which IP law is pertinent (high-tech, pharms, entertainment, media). 

What I think may give you an edge is studying EU IP law, or comparative Asian IP law.  IP is intrinsically borderless, so the intersection of international jurisdictions and treaties and IP will be a hot area over the next five years.

epicac

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Re: In IP Law, How Much Does School Matter?
« Reply #6 on: March 19, 2008, 03:31:14 PM »

What I think may give you an edge is studying EU IP law, or comparative Asian IP law.  IP is intrinsically borderless, so the intersection of international jurisdictions and treaties and IP will be a hot area over the next five years.


That's right!  I've heard this too.. I have a friend who works in Germany and she said that her company keeps expanding its IP department, hiring new lawyers all the time.  Hopefully I'll get to study abroad and talk to some people who work internationally in that sector.
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EngiLaw920

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Re: In IP Law, How Much Does School Matter?
« Reply #7 on: March 19, 2008, 07:23:17 PM »
Sorry if I'm taking this topic on a bit of a detour, but how is the demand for Industrial Engineers in Patent Law?  As an 'imaginary' engineer with plans on going to law school, I'm interested in patent law, but I don't know how I'd fair with my background.

bucky42

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Re: In IP Law, How Much Does School Matter?
« Reply #8 on: March 19, 2008, 09:27:01 PM »
I'll join the previous poster and ask something similar.

How much will my EE degree (w/ honors from pretty good school) matter when looking for a patent job? Is it worth paying full price at a lower T14 over a full ride at WUSTL or ~half ride at UT? Hopefully someone out there has some insight...

newjaytdot

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Re: In IP Law, How Much Does School Matter?
« Reply #9 on: March 19, 2008, 10:04:08 PM »
Sorry if I'm taking this topic on a bit of a detour, but how is the demand for Industrial Engineers in Patent Law?  As an 'imaginary' engineer with plans on going to law school, I'm interested in patent law, but I don't know how I'd fair with my background.

You can certainly practice patent law as a patent attorney or patent agent with a background in industrial engineering.  You can apply under Category A (which means that your degree alone is sufficient to satisfy the technical background requirement).  I found a link to the relevant USPTO General Requirements bulletin.  Go to section III(A) on page 6 of the following link - http://www.uspto.gov/web/offices/dcom/olia/oed/grb.pdf.

In response to the bucky42, your EE degree will matter quite a lot when looking for a job and when performing the functions of that job.  Your experience in a specific field will be invaluable to you and your ability to address your clients' needs. 

I'm not sure which school you are referring to in the T14, but if it's GULC then I would pay full price if I was sure I was going to go into patent.  Georgetown will give you a huge leg up on private practice firms, and you are close to the USPTO in Alexandria.  I'm not too sure about GULC's specific course offerings in IP law, but I'm sure that they are at least as good as what either of the other two schools you mentioned are; most likely, GULC has far more offerings. 

If you're sure IP is the way you want to head, and you're in at GULC, go there.