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Intellectual Property Law

post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 
I saw the other law school thread, but looking for some insight and personal experience from any of you that are in this field (whether it'd be a patent agent or lawyer). I have a BS in computer engineering and have been working as a system administrator for the past 5-6 years. I've been thinking about applying for a job as a sys admin at a law firm to be around that type of environment and then start studying for the patent bar exam and become an agent. I figure a year or two later, I would take my LSATS and go to law school.

Your insight is much appreciated!
post #2 of 21
I'm not sure you need to be a sys admin at a law firm to get into this field.

If you really want to go to into patent law, either just go to the best law school you can get into, or move to DC and go to one of the night programs, ideally while doing something IP related during the day, either at the USPTO or a law firm.

In the old days, 4 years at the USPTO allowed you to not take patent bar exam (technically, the patent registration exam, no JD required), but now it is basically required (PTO personnel take a version of the exam with questions more geared towards examiners - i.e., more about examination and less about deadlines and fees)
Edited by NoVaguy - 5/9/12 at 4:00pm
post #3 of 21
Javyn has stated that he is an intellectual property paralegal, so he might be a good place to start. Of course, half his posts are full of shit, so I could be wrong.
post #4 of 21
Seems like you have a good plan to me. I don't work in the prosecution wing (know nothing of patent prosecution), but I've noticed we love hiring prosecutors who have previously been patent agents.

IMO being an agent with your background will be really good for you. I'd imagine whatever firm you ended up at after law school though would try to drag you into litigation with your tech skills. We certainly would with the growing number of wireless infringement cases we are getting. Program much?
post #5 of 21
keep in mind that a computer engineering degree *might* not qualify you to sit for the patent bar exam w/o additional coursework.
post #6 of 21
Thread Starter 
I should be okay for the qualification. My degree had me do a number of programming, physics and math. My degree also came with a minor in physics and mathematics. I'm not much of a programmer, but I know enough to understand the logic and read code.

@NoVaguy - by nightly programs in DC, do you mean a law school or is there something else?

Sounds like I should take the patent bar exam and not really worry too much about working in a firm as a sys admin. Thanks
post #7 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by mexicutioner View Post

keep in mind that a computer engineering degree *might* not qualify you to sit for the patent bar exam w/o additional coursework.

Oh, yeah, forgot about that. Had a number of classmates who had that problem. Kind of idiotic for the computer programming area, but it is what it is.
Quote:
Originally Posted by ebmk3891 View Post

I should be okay for the qualification. My degree had me do a number of programming, physics and math. My degree also came with a minor in physics and mathematics. I'm not much of a programmer, but I know enough to understand the logic and read code.
@NoVaguy - by nightly programs in DC, do you mean a law school or is there something else?
Sounds like I should take the patent bar exam and not really worry too much about working in a firm as a sys admin. Thanks

Night law. There's something like 6 or 7 night law programs in town. Georgetown, GW, American, Howard, Catholic, Mason, and maybe Maryland? I think Georgetown is the only T-14 night law, GW has the far better patent/IP law, program (but slightly worse everywhere else).

Mason is (or used to be) a pretty good deal if you are a VA resident; with a decent bit of income during the day you can pretty much live tight and come out with no to minimal debt. And I think they are trying to pump up their IP program, or at least they were trying to do so.

A lot of firms and some government agencies used to have scholarships/tuition reimbursement plans in the past decade but I don't if that still exists in the post-2008 crash era.
post #8 of 21
Btw, here's the USPTO webpage for the Exam.

http://www.uspto.gov/ip/boards/oed/exam/registration.jsp

There's a pdf on the page titled "General Requirements Bulletin" and it includes the degree/coursework requirements.
post #9 of 21
OP, hit me up, I have a shitpile of study materials you can have. AIPLA training, claim drafting, forms, IP Bar, etc.
post #10 of 21
Also the WIPO have a bunch of Summer Schools that are cheap and don't seem too hard to get into. A good 2 week program to give you a little kick start perhaps?
post #11 of 21

FIRST, I would caution you about attending law school, for many and varied reasons. According to Gallup, one in three workers of the ages 18-29 are underemployed; that is just underemployed (not unemployed). I think it is higher than 32% for law graduates in the same age group.

 

 

Gallup's U.S. Underemployment Rate by Age, April 2012

 

 

SECOND, by way of disclosure, this is a practice area that I do not know very well.

 

 

THIRD, I can provide two examples of very good friends of mine who "concentrated" in intellectual property law. 

  1. Friend of mine is completely unemployed. He earned a B.A. in engineering and attended a top ten law school. He is federally licensed as a patent and I believe trademark attorney. He currently takes jobs off-and-on as a "contract attorney" (document review) and tutors (an aside: he is paid very well, in my opinion, when he obtains jobs to tutor in engineering).
  2. Other friend of mine  worked for a consulting firm during law school as the systems admin person. He has a degree in computer science from a top university. He has been looking for a legal position in intellectual property law since graduating law school. He still works for the same consulting firm and makes, in my opinion, excellent money. He wants to use his law degree, but he cannot find a legal position. Somewhat of an aside: he never worked for a firm or volunteered during law school, which I think could hurt him find a legal position. 

 

 

FOURTH, law school has many undisclosed and even unknown risks, among which are

  • Three (3) years of no earnings or diminished earnings during law school;
  • Lack of practical skills training (you graduate unable to practice);
  • Total unemployment upon graduation or underemployment where you may not even use J.D.; and
  • Remarkably high student loan debt (over 100,000).

 

 

Ultimately, my opinion on law school is more by way of warning than than insight (as described above). I try to provide a more realistic picture of law school to individuals even thinking about it. You have been warned (wish that I was before I attended). The cost of law school is so out of proportion with job opportunities, salaries, and skills training that I expect this bubble to burst. It already is with fewer individuals sitting for the LSAT and applying for law school.

 

Edit:As always, if it is your lifelong dream to practice law and you can graduate with minimal debt and have a job lined up, it is worth it. If this is something you are "thinking about" or "considering" and will take on a lot of debt and expect to obtain a job upon graduation, you need to be particularly cautious and wise about this "investment" (huge liability?). I want you to fulfill your dream and succeed, but law school is not a good place to consider or pursue career options. You need to have a substantial network BEFORE entering law school to provide legal services to in the event of un/underemployment. If you do not have a substantial network and will graduate with a massive amount of debt, you are at risk of literally ruining your life with respect to economics and finances; it is that significant and serious of a risk, financial liability and burden.


Edited by ShoeShopperJ - 5/13/12 at 5:53am
post #12 of 21
Thread Starter 
Thanks - I have considered many of those a factor in my decision. I'd only go to law school if I could get into a top university.

What state do your law friends live in? What I am hoping to do is work part-time at a firm that practices IP while attending classes. From my perspective of many of my friends, interning/part-time work to develop that experience during school is crucial to landing a fulltime job after graduating. I realize the risk coming out of this which is why I'm seeking the opinions of others.
post #13 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by ebmk3891 View Post

Thanks - I have considered many of those a factor in my decision. I'd only go to law school if I could get into a top university.
What state do your law friends live in? What I am hoping to do is work part-time at a firm that practices IP while attending classes. From my perspective of many of my friends, interning/part-time work to develop that experience during school is crucial to landing a fulltime job after graduating. I realize the risk coming out of this which is why I'm seeking the opinions of others.

Keep in mind that, at least officially, you are not allowed to work your first year unless you are only attending part-time (and part-time law school is absolutely foolish for most people).
post #14 of 21
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by FLMountainMan View Post

Keep in mind that, at least officially, you are not allowed to work your first year unless you are only attending part-time (and part-time law school is absolutely foolish for most people).

Is this universal or just some schools? By part-time, I only meant work and not school.
post #15 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by ebmk3891 View Post

Is this universal or just some schools? By part-time, I only meant work and not school.

i *think* that's a 1L-year rule for all ABA schools. either way, it's a good policy. compare what you'd earn with a part time job while attending (non-night school) law school versus the amount of money you can make as a biglaw summer associate and as a full-time associate after graduation.
Edited by mexicutioner - 5/15/12 at 10:58am
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