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Becoming a Patent Agent/Lawyer
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   Help.  Please.
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   Author  Topic: Help.  Please.  (Read 4036 times)
Eliz
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Re: Help.  Please.
« Reply #10 on: Jun 9th, 2005, 7:37am »
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Have you tried looking in Madison, WI?  Still the US, but a lot closer to Canada, and a good deal of biotech going on there.  But I don't know specifically about patent agent opportunities.  
 
I was in a somewhat similar situation.  I have a PhD in molecular/cell bio, and live in the St. Louis area (and need to stay here--my husband's job is too good for us to leave).  Even though there are several IP firms here that do biotech work, and Wash U, SLU, Monsanto, Pfizer, Sigma, Ralston Purina, etc. here, I couldn't find a job as a tech specialist....and while it might have been marginally easier if I had already passed the patent bar, the real challenge seems to be convincing them to hire someone who has not invested any real time (or money) in the law, and who from their point of view, might work for a year and then decide they don't like it (and then the firm has invested a lot of money training someone, without really reaping any rewards).  
 
Part of the problem, I think is just that the Midwest is always slower to jump on the bandwagon.  I wouldn't be suprised if 5 years from now, there were tons of tech specialists and patent agents.  What they need to be convinced of is that their clients are going to be looking for firms with PhDs.  If I was an inventor/company, I certainly wouldn't want someone with just a bachelor's degree in bio handling my highly complex biotech invention, even if they were a very good attorney.  Even if you, having a PhD, don't know more about the specific area that a given invention relates to than someone with a bachelors or masters in bio, you have a whole heck of a lot more scientific experience and thus will be able to talk to the client about the invention more easily, you know more basic biology, you will know better where to look things up if you need to, etc.  And lots of scientists have a LOW tolerance for being asked questions about their field that you should know the answer to, especially if it's on their dime.  
 
So...I am going to law school in the fall.  You might want to consider that route...with a PhD, you should be able to get at least some scholarship money (I got a full scholarship) assuming that your undergrad grades and LSAT are good.  You are probably thinking ugh, three more years of school? I just did 5, 6, 7, whatever on my PhD.  That was my feeling too...but on the other hand, I think it will open up a lot of opportunities, and three years isn't really all that long.  
 
I don't know if that helped at all (probably not Smiley...just my 2 cents.  
Elizabeth
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Vivian Chu
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Re: Help.  Please.
« Reply #11 on: Jul 13th, 2005, 10:07am »
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Mario,
 
Have you ever heard about "the Patent Examiner Recruitment" program which offered by Industry Canada. I attached their website for your reference. They are looking for people who has your background. I hope it would help.  
 
http://strategis.ic.gc.ca/sc_mrksv/cipo/patents/pt_employopps_p4-e.html
 
Good luck! Let us know how it goes.  
 
Vivian
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PiP
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Re: Help.  Please.
« Reply #12 on: Jul 13th, 2005, 11:29am »
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You really should consider doing a full post-doc.  I think you need more medline-searchable publications in high profile journals to stand out against other PhDs.  There are a lot of people out here with 5 gaudy pubs in Cell/Science/Nature who are doing the same thing as you.  Were I you, I would seriously consider doing a postdoc with a HH investigator or academy member in the USA.
 
But the better option is to just start law school--as suggested above--because that's going to be where you earn your money in the future, anyway.  Plus, if you do well as an L1 or go to a top school, you can probably get into firms via summer associateships and such.  I second everyone else in saying give up Canada, at least for now--not that I want more competition down here in the states but you gotta face the facts of where biotech IP law is happening.  
 
Having worked in a couple of the biotech companies mentioned by Eliz, I can tell you that THEY DO NOT HIRE PEOPLE THEY DON"T ALREADY KNOW.  End of story.  You must be connected to get a science job at one of these biotech campuses...let alone the legal dept.  This policy extends right down to the unionized animal caretakers!  Also, you must be the right guy in the right place at the right time for any of this job searching to work, hence the necessity for perseverence.
 
I have big questions about whether Houston actually has much biotech going on. Biospace doesn't even list it as a hotbed community (yet.)  I know there are a few companies and it's true that MDAnderson/Baylor/etc has around 70,000 medical personnel, but the biotech sector and drug development sector don't seem to be a focus of the area.  Houston is still an oil town.  That said, I'm still interested in UofH for law school...
 
Eliz, what do you think of WashU for law?  They seem to be a diamond in the rough, IMO.
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Eliz
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Re: Help.  Please.
« Reply #13 on: Jul 13th, 2005, 12:30pm »
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Ugh, just the thought of doing a post-doc makes me cringe...don't know if Mario feels the same, but I would definitely suggest law school as well.  
 
PiP--WashU has an excellent IP program.  I know, because I actually took several IP classes there in a Masters program (didn't finish the masters and ultimately decided to go to SLU for a JD).  I really liked the classes I took, and the professors were outstanding.  I ultimately decided not to go there for law school primarily because I was offered a MUCH larger scholarship by SLU, and because in some respects SLU is considered the better school for people who want to practice in St. Louis--i.e. more of the alums tend to stick around, so there is a larger network, whereas most WashU grads tend to leave for Chicago or the coasts.    
 
One irritating thing about WashU is that they do not consider anything beyond your undergrad grades and LSAT score in determining whether to offer you a scholarship and how much to offer...i.e. they will not take into consideration that you have a PhD (and in my case they would not take into consideration that I had taken, and ACED--highest grade in 2 of the 3 classes--several of their classes).  I understand why WashU operates this way (they are basically buying their ranking), but is still somewhat frustrating for someone who has done something else besides go straight to law school after undergrad.  SLU did take those other factors into consideration, and this was probably a big part of the reason I got so much more financial aid from them.  Since I only applied to those two schools, I have no idea how other schools handle that issue.      
 
Also, in my experience, there are very few "second-career" students at WashU...but since I seem to remember you saying you can't wait to hang out with the younger students, that probably wouldn't be an issue for you.  
 
I also wouldn't count on finding a part-time clerkship in St. Louis at an IP firm.  I have heard of it happening, but it's definitely not the norm.  Also, WashU does not have a part time program (although I seem to remember reading somewhere that they can make an exception where you are the primary caregiver for your children).  
 
All that having been said, WashU is a great place. Also, St. Louis is a great place to live on a student budget...VERY low cost of living.  Not a huge city, but plenty of things to keep you busy.  
 
Eliz
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PiP
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Re: Help.  Please.
« Reply #14 on: Jul 13th, 2005, 12:59pm »
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Thanks so much for the advice, Eliz!  It is helpful to know about WashU admissions' practices.  Their focus on rankings via numbers is really lame, IMO.  I have a low undergrad GPA which is the flaw in my law school applications--hence my repeated posts about mid-tier schools as I am worried about my applications to the big guys.  But I noticed on Law School Numbers that my GPA+LSAT numbers are getting admitted to WashU.  Might give them a shot...  
 
I have to say that I have a lot more respect for any school that takes a person, as a whole, into account rather than just their numbers.  With the bad ethical reputations that lawyers have nowadays, you would think that there would be more emphasis on who someone is.  I'm still amazed that there aren't interviews in the law school application process.  It's like they just don't care about personality.
 
Ha ha, it's scary now that people are remembering what I say on other posts!  I am definitely excited to get away from the nerdy graduate school students.  If anyone snort laughs at my first law school party I'm going to be majorly disappointed.
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