Interested in patent law, but don't have the background

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viscacatalunya

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Interested in patent law, but don't have the background

Postby viscacatalunya » Mon Jul 16, 2018 10:04 pm

Some background - graduated valedictorian last year from a top liberal arts college, studied philosophy of semantics, 176 LSAT, currently working as an investment banker at a bulge bracket bank. For a variety of reasons I don't really plan on staying/had always planned on getting another degree. I've been strongly considering law school but have struggled with finding a field within that - for example, given I don't find investment banking very interesting, I suspect M&A law could be a poor fit for me.

Within law, one of the things I started considering lately was patent law, but I don't have the necessary pre-requisites for it. I did some browsing on this forum and it doesn't seem like a lot of people do post-baccs to fulfill the science background requirement. I'm not clear on whether this is because doing a post-bacc is too time-consuming to be worth it, or if it's not viewed as thorough enough compared to doing an actual 4 year undergraduate degree in physics/compsci, etc. I'd love to do more research in this vein if it's a path worth pursuing, but as I'm just starting to do research on this, I'd really appreciate any feedback/thoughts on what makes sense and what doesn't.

tl;dr - no science background but interested in patent law, would be willing to do a post-bacc but wondering if that's a good idea or if the patent law route doesn't make sense given my background to begin with

uncle_rico

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Re: Interested in patent law, but don't have the background

Postby uncle_rico » Mon Jul 16, 2018 10:21 pm

Just go into PE or get your MBA then go PE or other finance related role. Unless you for some really are extremely interested in the practice of law I’d reccomend enjoying the finance side

viscacatalunya

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Re: Interested in patent law, but don't have the background

Postby viscacatalunya » Mon Jul 16, 2018 10:28 pm

I am definitely not interested in doing PE or continuing down the finance route, sell-side or buy-side, hence why looking at alternatives.

uncle_rico

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Re: Interested in patent law, but don't have the background

Postby uncle_rico » Mon Jul 16, 2018 10:53 pm

In that case check out the following requirements if you haven’t already: https://www.uspto.gov/sites/default/fil ... ED_GRB.pdf

It seems like you would be able to register for courses at a local university to fulfill the course requirements, but maybe someone with better insight on this will chime in. However, even if you can qualify by taking these courses, I can’t imagine that many would be willing to take all of those courses before even going to law school. The fastest route, taking 24 credits in physics, sounds absolutely brutal and would take at least a year to complete as a full time student (assuming that there are no pre-reqs that would get in the way of course registration). Obviously there are people out there that are willing to make this type of commitment, but I’m not sure if it would really be worth it

stressed

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Re: Interested in patent law, but don't have the background

Postby stressed » Mon Jul 16, 2018 11:19 pm

I know a senior patent counsel in big law who finished law school in 2000 and then went back to school for Ph.D. Another lawyer, went back to school after practicing M&A law a few years to get a masters degree in molecular biology. He is currently working as a patent lawyer in the US army.

JosefK

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Re: Interested in patent law, but don't have the background

Postby JosefK » Tue Jul 17, 2018 7:49 am

I would consider broadening your horizons a bit. Have you thought about soft IP (copyright/trademark/trade secret)? It's usually tougher to get jobs in those areas, but with your LSAT you'll be able to get into a great school so those are absolutely on the table. And they don't require any sort of technical degree.

As for patents - you don't need a technical degree for transactional (e.g., buying and selling patents) or litigation work (e.g., suing infringers). I will say that some of the more boutique / exclusive patent lit groups seem to want technical degrees and in some cases advanced degrees, but I've seen seen plenty of people with English majors. On the downside, the English majors tend to get silo'd into doing the less technical aspects of the case like motions, as you'd imagine. No one will hire you to do patent prosecution without a B.S., and ideally you'd have a Masters or PhD, unless you happen to know the CEO of a large company and can hang your own shingle.

So, to answer your question. The post-bacc will not help you for patent prosecution. It could perhaps marginally for patent lit, although a B.S. would help more. But, there are a lot of patent and IP related fields that you already could go into! I'd consider those.

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totesTheGoat

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Re: Interested in patent law, but don't have the background

Postby totesTheGoat » Tue Jul 17, 2018 8:11 am

I'm not clear on whether this is because doing a post-bacc is too time-consuming to be worth it, or if it's not viewed as thorough enough compared to doing an actual 4 year undergraduate degree in physics/compsci, etc. I'd love to do more research in this vein if it's a path worth pursuing, but as I'm just starting to do research on this, I'd really appreciate any feedback/thoughts on what makes sense and what doesn't.


I don't think it's worth doing a post-bacc to become eligible. You'll probably be able to find a prosecution job if you do the bare minimum to get your USPTO reg number, but most of the good jobs are reserved for people with BS and more in Physics, ME, EE, etc. or PhD in Bio, Chem, BioMed, etc. To be clear, whether or not you are technically eligible to practice, you will be a better patent prosecutor if you have some experience under your belt. More experience than a post-bacc will offer.

This isn't to say that you can't succeed, but none of the places I have worked would really entertain hiring somebody whose only technical experience is a post-bacc in computer science into an entry level prosecution position. Patent litigation is much more accessible without the degree, and I would think that the ability to "talk the talk" that comes with a post-bacc would be appreciated. IP transactional positions may also be possible, but all of the transactional folks I know are former patent prosecutors.

Honestly, if I were in your shoes and absolutely wanted to do patent prosecution, I'd go take the absolute minimum number of credits required to get your reg number, go take a coding bootcamp course, and work as a software developer for 2 or 3 years before thinking about law school. Those years of experience would help you immensely.

MaxMcMann

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Re: Interested in patent law, but don't have the background

Postby MaxMcMann » Mon Aug 20, 2018 1:01 am

I don't have the most relevant experience in this being a 1L, but I worked as a paralegal at three firms before graduation including a highly ranked IP boutique and in my opinion IP is the single most overrated area of law. How sure are you that patent law is something you want to do? I ask not to be rude but because it is, to my knowledge, the only area of law where you'd face the sort of additional challenges you described.

For all I know you did a ton of research and talked to attorneys in the field, but in case you didn't I'd suggest doing so. In my personal opinion as someone who's not scientifically inclined (I was a paralegal primarily in soft IP but did occasional work for hard IP people and had friends in that field who talked about their work), IP is incredibly dull. Granted, I'm not a good source but you might want to think about how set you are on that path and for what reasons considering you could've done hard science in undergrad if you felt that's what your passion was at the time.

For what it's worth, I found soft IP (I worked under a big name partner and saw pretty much everything he worked on) to be uninspiring compared to work I did in other areas - which isn't an especially high bar to begin with.



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