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Becoming a Patent Agent/Lawyer
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   biotechy
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BPM
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biotechy
« on: Mar 11th, 2005, 12:26pm »
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I was wondering if anyone know how hard it is it find employment as  a patent attorney with just a BS in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology? I have seen many places prefer a PhD, but have seen many BS at BigLaw firms, Corporations, and Universities.  
 
I am currently a PhD student in genetics that will be leaving school after only completing 2 years (school does not offer MS, so thats not an option). I love the science, but the PhD isnt really what I am cut out for. In addition to my 2 years of PhD study, I also have 4 years research experience in a molecular genetics lab.  I have accepted a  research position that I would be working at during 4 years of part time law school. So by the time i finish law school I would have ~10 years research experience,  PhD level graduate school experience.  
 
I was wondering if there were any thoughts on how this would play in the job market. I would hope that my extensive research experience would be beneficial and could substitute for an advanced degree.
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Re: biotechy
« Reply #1 on: Mar 14th, 2005, 11:45am »
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Why not spend the next four years doing patent prosecution?  If you are in a large enough market, you should be able to find some firm or boutique that will take a look at you.  
 
But you need to show that you are serious, and not just another disgruntled scientist.  In other words, show them that you are going to blah blah blah school of law, that you have a registration number, that you are a member of the local AIPLA chapter, etc.  Go to the AIPLA meetings and lunches -- start introducing yourself to patent attorneys in the area.
 
Why do all this?  Well, you could spend the next  years in the lab.  You obviously are qualified.  But, you could also spend that time doing what you plan to do for the rest of your career, and make more money in the process.  I can guarantee that patent agents make more money than lab techs.
 
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Re: biotechy
« Reply #2 on: Mar 14th, 2005, 12:44pm »
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Thanks for the input, I think Chicago should be a large enough market. I will be going to John Marshall, hopefully this fall, but more likely in January (due to Waitlist).  
 
I was just under the impression that patent agents for biotech/pharma/life science needed a PhD, or at least thats what Ive been told.  
 
I guess Ill get prep course and take the bar. Even if I make less than $50k as an agent, it will be more than enough for me to get by during law school, and like you said, a lot better than a lab tech position.  
 
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Re: biotechy
« Reply #3 on: Mar 23rd, 2005, 8:33pm »
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As a previous poster aptly noted, experience does trump everything...if you are fortunate enough to land a patent agent job while you are in school then you wont have to worry so much about the degree since your future employment will be based on your prosecution skills.  However, if you cant find a patent job then working in the lab wont really get you anywhere in the patent world.  The reality as I see it, is that a PhD is really important (in pursuing patent prosecution in the biological sciences).  First, there are a number of PhD/JDs out there and scores more going to law school right now.  Second, there are scores of PhD grads, post-docs, scientific researchers, and professors currently considering or actively pursuing a change to patent law.  It will be very difficult for you to land a patent agent job in the biological sciences without a PhD...Thus, instead of working in the lab, I would try to do whatever I could while in Law school to get some IP experience....volunteer if you have to to get your foot in the door, but at all costs get the experience, b/c in the end that will be what sets you apart from other scientists (with better scientific credentials than you).  
 
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Re: biotechy
« Reply #4 on: Apr 7th, 2005, 3:22pm »
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If I were you, I would finish your PhD. If you were going to Northwestern or UChicago, then your job prospects would be ok. John Marshall is a 4th tier law school. A person with a phd and coming from a 4th tier law school is hard enough. I know people who try and go into IP and end up doing something totally outside of IP. If you can get the experience, good for you, but be prepared for the major uphill challenges that await you. Even Phds are having a hard time finding jobs. the market is pretty saturated.
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