Law School Discussion

Nine Years of Discussion
;

Author Topic: Patent Law - Prospects for an Engineer?  (Read 1460 times)

collegebum1989

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 12
    • View Profile
Patent Law - Prospects for an Engineer?
« on: December 09, 2011, 01:56:04 PM »
Hi everyone!

I'm new to the legal realm, how I just have a few questions about the legal prospects for people with engineering backgrounds.

So I majored in biomedical engineering as an undergrad and was initially premed, then switched to engineering and considered the PhD for a while, but then was intrigued by the unique mix of science and law which IP and Patent Law provides for people with technical backgrounds.

In terms of admission, I just want to know how my background would be viewed. I went to a state school in NY and graduated with a 3.21 gpa. But I'm now doing a masters at Cornell in biomedical engineering with a GPA near close to 4.0.

I know graduate school GPAs are "inflated", but how does the prestige of the school factor in the weighting of the UG and undergraduate GPA in law school admissions. I also have a lot of technical engineering research experience. How would this be viewed for law school applications?

collegebum1989

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 12
    • View Profile
Re: Patent Law - Prospects for an Engineer?
« Reply #1 on: December 11, 2011, 12:50:52 PM »
My plan is to get an advanced degree (either PhD or JD). Would the lack of one ultimately limit me in moving up to higher positions in IP?

Also, I've read that it's possible to enter IP as a technology specialist with a PhD, which is something I'm considering as well, I just want to know the difference each would have as a career path in IP (salary, type of work, advancement, etc)

Zepp

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 31
    • View Profile
Re: Patent Law - Prospects for an Engineer?
« Reply #2 on: December 13, 2011, 11:02:44 AM »
What weight is given to you graduate degrees depends on what school you're applying to.  My experience is that most schools don't give too much weight to graduate degrees, beyond acknowledging that it exists (a partner I work with made the comment of "everyone gets As in grad school" when I mentioned how law schools ignore my master's).  However, my experience was that of having a liberal arts degree.  I would think that if the school you're applying to is known for IP, a graduate degree in the hard sciences will probably make the world of difference.  I would also think if the school is one that is known for IP, they would take into account lower GPAs of hard science degrees versus the fluff of liberal arts degrees.

IP is just such a distinct subsection of law school and the practice of law, it's really hard to predict anything.  It's a practice that requires a degree in science, in a world where the vast majority of people have a liberal arts background.  Some law schools will have an entirely separate on campus interview process for IP versus firms looking for all other practices (Georgetown for one).  There are also schools that are rated as third tier schools generally, and but are highly regarded for IP (UNH/Franklin Pierce for example).  My best advise would be to apply to all the schools that are known for IP, thrown in a few top tier schools with decent IP programs, and see what happens.  And of course, as a final note, the emloyment prospects of someone with your background looking for their first attorney position in an IP practice is much better than the person just looking for general attorney positions, even if that person had better law school grades than you.  As for the lack of a PhD, it really shouldn't make that much of a difference.  The vast majority of job listings I've seen for IP attorneys only look for an undergraduate degree in a science.  Your masters would be a bonus.
GULC 2010 Cum Laude

collegebum1989

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 12
    • View Profile
Re: Patent Law - Prospects for an Engineer?
« Reply #3 on: December 13, 2011, 10:00:27 PM »
Thank you for the advice!

I already found that the grades in graduate degrees don't help much with admissions. But what about the actual school?

For example, I went to undergrad at a unknown state school in NY, but my masters at Cornell. Would this have any effect on admissions? Especially since I'm doing a lot better in Cornell.

My undergraduate GPA was a 3.21, with a senior GPA of 3.61. Now I have a 4.0 at Cornell.

My experiences in college were mostly scientific research, and in graduate school more geared towards medical research. Obviously this is different from the traditional law school applicant, but would this be a potential benefit for differentiating myself, even for schools not known for IP?

FalconJimmy

  • Sr. Citizen
  • ****
  • Posts: 684
    • View Profile
    • Email
Re: Patent Law - Prospects for an Engineer?
« Reply #4 on: December 13, 2011, 11:39:44 PM »
All I can do here is theorize.

1.  There's a reason that almost the entire admissions decision is based on undergrad GPA and LSAT:  everybody has them.  Start throwing in things that people may or may not have and you turn a relatively easily quantifiable process into an absolutely impossible process.

2.  I suspect that a degree in the quantitative sciences from Cornell is difficult to get a 4.0 in.  However, I also suspect that there are a lot of graduate degrees from various schools where if you didn't get a 4.0, it means you just didn't give a crap.  You're asking the admissions committees to evaluate the relative merit of one type of degree over another.

3.  Although you, me, and pretty much ever sentient mammal knows that a 3.5 in electrical engineering and a 3.5 in poli sci are about as analogous as launching a rocket and eating toothpaste, it's difficult for law school professors (who compose the admissions committee) to admit to this.  For one thing, most of them got into great schools by getting great GPAs in undergraduate study.  Most of them did not do this by finding the hardest major they could find.  They did it by majoring in something where it wasn't that hard to get a great GPA.

What you are doing, essentially, is hoping that they'll think that they, themselves, are dumbasses, and the people who majored in other things are smart.

They're not going to do that.  By now, they have all sorts of rationalizations about how majoring in basketweaving taught them how to think. 

OTOH, once you are in a law school and decide to practice in IP, advanced degrees factor into things.  One local patent attorney is going back to get his masters in EE because he can bill a higher rate for better work if he has that degree.

Best of luck, but again, my non-expert opinion is that 99% of the admissions decision is GMAT and GPA alone.  Your other 1%?  Looks great.  So does the other 1% for the guy who spent his summer rescuing guatamalan children from a typhoon or whatever. 

collegebum1989

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 12
    • View Profile
Re: Patent Law - Prospects for an Engineer?
« Reply #5 on: December 14, 2011, 02:41:19 AM »
Thank you for the response, but your reference to the GMAT and GRE are not only irrelevant on a law school forum, but has nothing to do with my original questions. We are not discussing business school, it's law school admissions we are discussing.

Second, it's not the difficulty of the undergraduate major which I discussed previously but rather the merit of the prestige of the school in relation to undergraduate vs. graduate studies. Your comments on what every applicant has (UG GPA, LSAT score) is definitely true.

I'm asking whether it's worthwhile for students with non-traditional backgrounds to apply to law school if they have a potential career path in mind (in my case IP for biotechnology). For example, you apply to medical school without clinical experience you will be rejected; you apply to PhD programs without research experience you will also be denied. However, how are law school admissions reflected by this?


FalconJimmy

  • Sr. Citizen
  • ****
  • Posts: 684
    • View Profile
    • Email
Re: Patent Law - Prospects for an Engineer?
« Reply #6 on: December 14, 2011, 09:25:30 AM »
Thank you for the response, but your reference to the GMAT and GRE are not only irrelevant on a law school forum, but has nothing to do with my original questions. We are not discussing business school, it's law school admissions we are discussing.

Who are you responding to?

Second, it's not the difficulty of the undergraduate major which I discussed previously but rather the merit of the prestige of the school in relation to undergraduate vs. graduate studies. Your comments on what every applicant has (UG GPA, LSAT score) is definitely true.

No, but you discussed trying to see if you could leverage your graduate degree in the sciences at cornell for admission to a law school.  The answer is still the same:  your 1% will look phenomenal... so will half the class.

I'm asking whether it's worthwhile for students with non-traditional backgrounds to apply to law school if they have a potential career path in mind (in my case IP for biotechnology).

If that's your question, the answer is "Yes".


For example, you apply to medical school without clinical experience you will be rejected;

Patently untrue.
The decision is made almost entirely on MCAT and GPA.  Don't buy into the idea that all the other admissions requirements play much of a role in any of these decisions.  At best, they're tie-breakers.


you apply to PhD programs without research experience you will also be denied.

That may be true, expecially in some sciences. 

However, how are law school admissions reflected by this?

I can only reiterate:  law school admissions are based on LSAT and GPA.  That's it.  Yes, there are other factors and once in a while, they tip the scale, but again, they're tie-breakers at best.  LSAT and GPA.  That's what they're basing almost the entirety of the decision on. 

If you are not competitive for admission to, say, University of Virginia based on LSAT and GPA, you won't be just because you got a Ph.D. at Harvard. 

If you're on the bubble, at the point where they're deciding who to wait-list and who to admit, or deciding who to wait-list and who to decline, entirely, they might dig into the rest of your application a bit. 

I don't know how to make it any more plain:  the decision will be based on undergrad GPA and LSAT.

Zepp

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 31
    • View Profile
Re: Patent Law - Prospects for an Engineer?
« Reply #7 on: December 14, 2011, 12:28:57 PM »
I don't think your Cornell grad work will help you get into Cornell's law school, unless you have a close relationship with one of your professors who has good ties with the law school, and is willing to work behind the scenes for you (or you're able to work some kind of dual degree out of it).  Just on paper, it probably isn't going to make much of a difference (I have a Master's from Georgetown, and was initially rejected by Georgetown for law school). 

The only time I see your graduate work making a difference is if the school is highly regarded for its IP program, and looking at students with science degrees is something that they are generally accustomed to (I don't believe Cornell falls into this catagory).
GULC 2010 Cum Laude

collegebum1989

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 12
    • View Profile
Re: Patent Law - Prospects for an Engineer?
« Reply #8 on: December 15, 2011, 03:07:24 PM »
Yeah, I figured different departments from the same university don't help much with admissions within the same school. I was just interested to know how things play into the law school admissions process since I'm only familiar with graduate admissions (which is more dependent on your personal research experiences, fit with a department and letters of recommendation as opposed to GRE/GPA).

I've also read that some IP firms may hire people with technical backgrounds who have passed the Patent Bar as a technology specialist and if seem qualified, pay for night law school to earn a JD in 4 years. Then become a patent attorney. Can anyone comment on this route?