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Unpaid Internship at a Patent Law firm?

Discussion in 'Business, Careers & Education' started by JChance, Mar 30, 2011.

  1. JChance

    JChance Senior member

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    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 [​IMG] What are your thoughts on it?
     
  2. JChance

    JChance Senior member

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    P.S. This patent law firm is only a small law firm with many interns, roughly 8 JDs and 8 PhDs.
     
  3. longskate88

    longskate88 Senior member

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    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.
     
  4. dragon8

    dragon8 Senior member

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    P.S. This patent law firm is only a small law firm with many interns, roughly 8 JDs and 8 PhDs.

    16 interns?
     
  5. imageWIS

    imageWIS Senior member

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    Is theoretical physics a hobby of yours?
     
  6. JChance

    JChance Senior member

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    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)

    16 interns?
     
  7. JChance

    JChance Senior member

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    I would not say a hobby, but I did enjoy learning about theoretical physical chemistry (statistical mechanics) [​IMG]

    Is theoretical physics a hobby of yours?
     
  8. imageWIS

    imageWIS Senior member

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    I would not say a hobby, but I did enjoy learning about theoretical physical chemistry (statistical mechanics) [​IMG]

    I'm just saying cus the patent office did wonders for Einstein, so you never know.... [​IMG]
     
  9. A.L.Z.

    A.L.Z. Senior member

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    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.
     
  10. dragon8

    dragon8 Senior member

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    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.
     
  11. Joffrey

    Joffrey Senior member

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    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.
     
  12. JChance

    JChance Senior member

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    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

    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.
     
  13. Ambulance Chaser

    Ambulance Chaser Senior member

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    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? [​IMG] This sounds like an attempt to avoid the labor laws.
     
  14. Kyoung05

    Kyoung05 Senior member

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    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.
     
  15. JChance

    JChance Senior member

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    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?


    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.
     
  16. Kyoung05

    Kyoung05 Senior member

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    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?

    Any non-cash compensation was pretty minimal, i.e. a few meals here and there - no housing/stipend, or anything of the sort.

    Regarding your question about whether I'd do again, well, I guess that depends. As you may or may not know, finding a legal job was tough back then (i.e. 2006-2007), and still is today. At the time I applied/was offered the position, I was admittedly feeling a bit desperate, and I ended up applying to any one willing to hire a 1L. I was trying to seem as appealing as possible for OCI interviews which would take place during the fall of my 2L year, and I wanted to get any kind of experience I could. I figured that any way I could get a leg up on my competition would be beneficial, and if that meant 3 months of work experience, so be it. In that context, I'd absolutely do it again. It just so happens that towards the end of my internship, I worked with one of the "of counsel" attorneys who practiced trademark law, and that experience really sparked my interest in other fields of intellectual property, i.e. "soft" IP.
     
  17. gungadin25

    gungadin25 Senior member

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    Sounds shady -- not aware of any respectable law firms that ask people to work for free. You should check whether any of the paid staff rose up from the unpaid internship.
     
  18. NoVaguy

    NoVaguy Senior member

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    Sounds fishy, at least based on what classmates of mine were getting to be patent agents while in law school.
     
  19. nerdykarim

    nerdykarim Senior member

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    Those of you who say it sounds fishy--how far out of law school are you? IMO, in the last couple years, unpaid legal internships become very common.
     
  20. NoVaguy

    NoVaguy Senior member

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    Those of you who say it sounds fishy--how far out of law school are you? IMO, in the last couple years, unpaid legal internships become very common.

    Less than 2 years.
     

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