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Unpaid Internship at a Patent Law firm?

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 
Hi all,

I'm a recent graduate in 'hard' science and recently got offered an unpaid internship at a patent law firm. I'm interested in practicing patent law later after attending law school. Should I take this position for career experience? I think I'm capable of obtaining a paid legal position at other law firms but it's not going to be patent though What are your thoughts on it?
post #2 of 22
Thread Starter 
P.S. This patent law firm is only a small law firm with many interns, roughly 8 JDs and 8 PhDs.
post #3 of 22
Do it. Say yes to everything you can. I recently graduated in accounting and the unpaid internship I took helped me get the well paid internship I have now, which will hopefully lead to better things down the road. You can continue looking for other jobs while working there. At my unpaid internship it was easy to leave since they knew I was looking for a full-time position elsewhere.
post #4 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by JChance View Post
P.S. This patent law firm is only a small law firm with many interns, roughly 8 JDs and 8 PhDs.

16 interns?
post #5 of 22
Is theoretical physics a hobby of yours?
post #6 of 22
Thread Starter 
haha that's what they advertise, from the previous interns I saw from their list, they were mostly JDs and PhD graduates, so I think they might have hyped up their employees. I have no idea how many lawyers are actually working there as lawyers/patent agents, but the company is probably small size (11-50 employees)

Quote:
Originally Posted by dragon8 View Post
16 interns?
post #7 of 22
Thread Starter 
I would not say a hobby, but I did enjoy learning about theoretical physical chemistry (statistical mechanics)

Quote:
Originally Posted by imageWIS View Post
Is theoretical physics a hobby of yours?
post #8 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by JChance View Post
I would not say a hobby, but I did enjoy learning about theoretical physical chemistry (statistical mechanics)

I'm just saying cus the patent office did wonders for Einstein, so you never know....
post #9 of 22
For what it's worth--here is my 2 cents--take it or leave it. This "small" firm sounds fishy...and any reputable and respected/serious law firm down the road that you apply to work at will view your experience at this firm with equal "fishiness". It sounds even more "fishy" because no reputed law firm--or engineering firm or anything for that matter--does unpaid internships...unless the unpaid internship is a required FOR-CREDIT component of your academic program...your case does not sound like it. So, my recommendation is get an internship from a reputable law firm, and while there, work your magic to let everyone know your heart is in patents and stat mech and what not....and let life take care of itself from there on... PS...I'd be interested in hearing other people's advice on this as well, especially if they have personal experiences with "unpaid internships" and/or hiring those with "unpaid intern experience"... PPS...are you East Asian or South Asian heritage? Or is this firm predominantly East Asian or South Asian? For some reason, the mind-bogglingly overwhelming number of unpaid internships and internees are from those communities....I'm not discriminating, just pointing out something that was pointed out to me.
post #10 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by A.L.Z. View Post
For what it's worth--here is my 2 cents--take it or leave it.


This "small" firm sounds fishy...and any reputable and respected/serious law firm down the road that you apply to work at will view your experience at this firm with equal "fishiness".

It sounds even more "fishy" because no reputed law firm--or engineering firm or anything for that matter--does unpaid internships...unless the unpaid internship is a required FOR-CREDIT component of your academic program...your case does not sound like it.

So, my recommendation is get an internship from a reputable law firm, and while there, work your magic to let everyone know your heart is in patents and stat mech and what not....and let life take care of itself from there on...

PS...I'd be interested in hearing other people's advice on this as well, especially if they have personal experiences with "unpaid internships" and/or hiring those with "unpaid intern experience"...

PPS...are you East Asian or South Asian heritage? Or is this firm predominantly East Asian or South Asian? For some reason, the mind-bogglingly overwhelming number of unpaid internships and internees are from those communities....I'm not discriminating, just pointing out something that was pointed out to me.

To me the 16 interns is kinda interesting... It looks to me that this firm might be a reputable firm that can get away with unpaid interns and they do. 8 JDs and 8 PhDs is quite impressive.
post #11 of 22
I've never had an unpaid internship. But it depends on the field. In politics or policy related work, it's quite common. Not so sure about legal. I'd do it if the opportunitiy was really special.
post #12 of 22
Thread Starter 
From what I read on their websites, they only have 15 people (including 6 staff members, and the rest are probably attorneys/patent agents) and they can manage 30 interns during summer :O

Quote:
Originally Posted by dragon8 View Post
To me the 16 interns is kinda interesting... It looks to me that this firm might be a reputable firm that can get away with unpaid interns and they do. 8 JDs and 8 PhDs is quite impressive.
post #13 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by JChance View Post
From what I read on their websites, they only have 15 people (including 6 staff members, and the rest are probably attorneys/patent agents) and they can manage 30 interns during summer :O
Twice as many interns as employees? This sounds like an attempt to avoid the labor laws.
post #14 of 22
FWIW, I did an unpaid internship at a patent law firm during the summer of my 1L year. At the time. there was 1 managing partner (attorney), and about 10 "interns," some of whom were law students, some of whom were patent agents, and some of whom were still doing their undergrad. There were other attorneys associated with the firm who worked as "of counsel." Since I wasn't being paid, I elected to get credits through my school (which ended up costing me money since I had to pay tuition for the externship credits). The managing partner was an inventor, and had several issued patents, and more patent applications in various stages of the filing process. Most of the work we did was internal, meaning we primarily worked on the managing partner's patents, i.e. infringement analysis, responding to office actions, preparing economic damages reports, etc. Some of the patent agent interns actually worked on client matters, i.e. drafting claims for new applications, responding to office actions etc.

Given the ratio of interns to supervising attorney, the level of supervision was pretty low, although the managing partner made an effort to have weekly one-on-ones with each of us, and I believe the patent agents who were working on client matters were given more supervision.

I ended up earning 3 units that summer, and I stayed on part-time during the fall of my 2L year, getting paid a small hourly wage. Overall, I'd say it wasn't a bad experience, and it probably helped me get my next jobs. That said, I don't have a tech/science background, so I realized that patents were not for me.
post #15 of 22
Thread Starter 
Now that sounds like something they are offering me... Given the information you know now, if you have the chance to do it over, would you do it again? Btw, did they offer any sort of non-cash compensation, i.e. housing/stipend for meals?


Quote:
Originally Posted by Kyoung05 View Post
FWIW, I did an unpaid internship at a patent law firm during the summer of my 1L year. At the time. there was 1 managing partner (attorney), and about 10 "interns," some of whom were law students, some of whom were patent agents, and some of whom were still doing their undergrad. There were other attorneys associated with the firm who worked as "of counsel." Since I wasn't being paid, I elected to get credits through my school (which ended up costing me money since I had to pay tuition for the externship credits). The managing partner was an inventor, and had several issued patents, and more patent applications in various stages of the filing process. Most of the work we did was internal, meaning we primarily worked on the managing partner's patents, i.e. infringement analysis, responding to office actions, preparing economic damages reports, etc. Some of the patent agent interns actually worked on client matters, i.e. drafting claims for new applications, responding to office actions etc.

Given the ratio of interns to supervising attorney, the level of supervision was pretty low, although the managing partner made an effort to have weekly one-on-ones with each of us, and I believe the patent agents who were working on client matters were given more supervision.

I ended up earning 3 units that summer, and I stayed on part-time during the fall of my 2L year, getting paid a small hourly wage. Overall, I'd say it wasn't a bad experience, and it probably helped me get my next jobs. That said, I don't have a tech/science background, so I realized that patents were not for me.
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