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Becoming a Patent Agent/Lawyer
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anon
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Re: biotechy
« Reply #5 on: Apr 10th, 2005, 7:43pm »
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You should definitely try to finish your Ph.D.  I am not sure that even ten years of what managers would consider 'technician level experience' would help you find the type of position your are looking for.
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E Coli
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Re: biotechy
« Reply #6 on: Jun 4th, 2005, 7:36am »
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It also depends on your market. On the east coast, a PhD is much more important than it seems to be on the west coast. Frankly, a PhD doesn't give you a leg up as a patent lawyer. Chances are you will never prosecute a patent in the subject matter that you did your PhD.
 
However, in the competitive market of attracting new clients, firms are making it a point to hire as many PhD's as possible as a marketing tool. And it seems to matter to clients. But so far, it doesn't seem to have taken root as much on the west coast as the east coast.
 
As for the other posters here, I would tend to agree with them. Regardless of the reality of whether a PhD would somehow make you more qualified as a lawyer, probably not. But as far as finding employment, it makes a huge difference (at least for prosecution).
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ramireza
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Re: biotechy
« Reply #7 on: Jun 14th, 2005, 8:07am »
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Well, I must admit I had illusions of becoming a patent attorney.  After reading much of this and related discussion (and looking for jobs around my hometown) I'm quite discouraged. I have only a bachelor's in biology and three years of graduate work (molecular biology), as well as 1.5 years of benchwork experience. I just graduated from law school (4th tier), and thought this might be enough to get a job, but everything I'm reading points to: "no, thank you, but you're welcome to send your resume" aka "shredder fodder," "kindling," or "future recycled coffee filter."  
 
Should I be this discouraged? Is there room for hope on the west coast?
 
Thanks for any opinions, useful or funny.
 
~Ram
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Patent_Type
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Posts: 80
Re: biotechy
« Reply #8 on: Jun 14th, 2005, 9:45am »
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Keep in mind that these are anonymous postings on an internet forum -- don't make career decisions based on what myself or some other person you have never met says.  Instead:
 
1) Use your law school career office for help with networking.  Are there any alumni of your school who are now doing patent prosecution of any flavor?  Give them a call.
 
2) Network on your own.  I didn't know any attorneys in the city I wanted to work in.  I began calling friends of friends of friends.  Even though I sent out several dozen resumes, I only had two interviews -- both of which arose out of my personal contacts (ie: busting my bottom doing lots of hard work outside my comfort zone), not from the resumes!  
 
3)  Be willing to work for free for a small firm or for a company for a while.  Chances are they will still manage to pay you something, but at this point, the pay means nothing compared to the experience.
 
4)  If you haven't already, pass the patent bar exam.  There is no excuse now -- it sounds like you have lots of time on your hands.  You really should have taken this exam BEFORE you even started law school, but taking it now at least shows you are serious and takes some of the pressure off a partner who dreads having to train you and pay for you to prep for the exam.
 
AND FOR ALL THE REST OF YOU BIOLOGY PEOPLE OUT THERE READING THIS --  
 
Don't think that the market is so hot that all you need to do is go to some 4th tier law school and three years later jobs will be falling into your lap!  If you don't have a PhD, or significant experience with small molecule chemistry, you are in for an uphill climb.  Be prepared to work hard at networking, volunteering, and anything else that can set you apart as serious and that can give you experience.  Otherwise, be prepared to look for jobs doing trademark and licensing (if you are extremely lucky) or real estate, divorce, personal injury, public defender etc type of legal work (if you are lucky).
 
PT
« Last Edit: Jun 14th, 2005, 9:48am by Patent_Type » IP Logged
Eliz
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Posts: 107
Re: biotechy
« Reply #9 on: Jun 14th, 2005, 10:53am »
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I don't know that I have much substantive advice to offer as to how much a Ph.D. really matters to getting a job, but I have a few points I wanted to bring up.  
 
1.  It sounds like you've already decided to leave grad school, and finishing the Ph.D. is not really an option at this point, right?  I know this is a very tough decision to make (especially for someone who is probably an overachiever to begin with--which most people who even go to grad school in the first place are), and if you feel that it's the right decision for you, stick with it.  It is SO not worth making yourself miserable for four more years in the lab (or longer).  If it was a problem with the lab you were in, I would say switch labs and try to finish, because it's still pretty early in your grad school career, but it doesn't sound like that's the case from your post.  
 
2.  I actually think that in the market I live in (St. Louis), the value of a Ph.D. is not yet being realized by the local law firms (although I think this is changing).  Right now, they are hiring a lot of people with JD's who only have a bachelor's degree.  Tech specialist and patent agent positions, even for someone with a Ph.D. are few and far between.  I only know of three biotech attorneys in my area who have Ph.D.s (I'm sure there are more than that, but the point is that they are certainly not the norm here).  Of course, who knows what the situation will be three years from now.  
 
3.  Personally, I think that the law firms need to be hiring more people with Ph.D.'s because:  (a)  Even if you never end up prosecuting an app related to your thesis work, you still have had a whole lot more experience thinking about science, reading papers, talking to scientists about their work, etc., and you are going to be able to do this much more competently that someone with only a BA or BS; and (b) From talking to some of the local biotech people, the Ph.D. is a credential that clients want see--i.e. they don't want someone who knows nothing about the science of their invention to be prosecuting an app for them.  
 
But, BPM, with respect (a), you have more experience that other people (probably more from the Ph.D. program than from your time as a tech) and maybe this is something you can spin to your advantage in an interview.  
 
Good luck!
 
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