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(Message started by: Melissa on Jun 1st, 2006, 10:08pm)

Title: starting the law school search
Post by Melissa on Jun 1st, 2006, 10:08pm

I will be applying to law schools in the fall.  I've tried to do as much research as possible and would love to ultimately practice copyright or trademark law.  I do not have a science or engineering background however and have heard this can be a major hindrance for ip lawyers.  Before I choose a school based on their ip program, I would like to know, is this a logical career to pursue?  Will I be able to get a job after law school?  I am specifically interested in copyrights dealing with art works.  (I do have some familiarity with art).  I know that ultimately my interests might change, but it is hard to pick what law schools to apply to without some direction in mind and copyrights are the only things I find interesting at the moment.

Other questions:  what can I do so that I will be more marketable (despite my lack of science background) both before and during law school?  what are some good ip programs on the northeast or california?  (I am looking at many in New York including Cardozo and Fordham, as well as Boston University).  
Thanks so much in advance!

Title: Re: starting the law school search
Post by mactheknife on Jun 4th, 2006, 6:26pm
Hi Melissa,

Perhaps I can help you out as I was in your shoes not too long ago. I just finished my first year at University of Michigan Law School after three years working for the copyright office and two degrees in classical music performance. Like you, I was open to my interests changing, but my work at the C.O. and as a musician was what got me interested in law school in the first place.

My advice, for whatever it's worth:

(1) Don't choose a school based on the strength or weakness of their IP program. What law school will do is teach you a way of analysis and thinking that can be applied to whatever area of law you want. I applied to Boston U because of their reputation in IP, but I'm not there. Of all the schools I applied, I found U-M to be the best fit for me as far as academic rigor, quality of life, expense (I'm from Ann Arbor so I can live w/ mom and dad, get in-state tuition and save $$$), etc.

(2) Do take the time to visit places you're interested in. That way you can get a first-hand look at the school and see whether it's right for you. You especially want to get a feel for the student body. As great as my professors have been (most of them), I learned the most from student discussion inside and outside of class. And having people around that you can stand hanging out with makes the hard parts of law school (finals, etc.) much more bearable. You also might want to specifically seek out students or faculty with your interests.

(3) As far as whether the lack of hard science background is a hindrance: most people will tell you it's not. The only practice area where a hard science background is an absolute necessity is patent prosecution. Copyright and trademark work doesn't require it in the least. Even patent litigators aren't necessarily science people. The only thing I can think of is, some firms I've seen treat copyright/trademark as sort of the red-headed stepchild of patent work (hey, patent work brings in the big bucks) so they'll hire patent prosecutors and assign them the occasional trademark/copyright case. In those firms, the lack of a science background might hinder you; but there are plenty of other firms who don't take that approach. In fact I know of at least one Bay area "high tech" firm that actively solicits people without science backgrounds.

(4) I would highly recommend entering the work force for at least a year before entering law school. I don't think it really matters what type of work you do, as long as you're learning to use your mind in a practical sense, and you are forced to keep a daily routine (get up at 7, be at work by 8:30, etc.). I see a huge difference between those who've worked and those who come straight from undergrad in how people react to various situations (academic, social, and otherwise). Some law firms, I'm told, also like to see prior work experience.

Anyways, this is all kind of subjective, so feel free to disregard my opinions if you wish. I'd be happy to answer any more questions you have about the application process. Best of luck!


edit: perhaps posting my email to this wasn't such a good idea... can we get some sort of filter to block the spam-post bots!?

Title: Re: starting the law school search
Post by Melissa on Jun 10th, 2006, 12:08am

Thank you very much for the response.  I found it very helpful.

I will be working for the next year at a law firm and hope to speak to some lawyers there as well.

Should application questions arise, I will post.

Thanks again,

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