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chem
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questions before considering IP career
« on: Jun 11th, 2005, 10:40am »
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Dear all,  
 
I have been reading this forum with great interest. Currently I am seriously considering a career as a patent attorney. I am targeting Fordham (part time) and major NYC law firms (day time patent agent).  
 
Regarding my background I am a PhD chemist with postdoc in the US. Currently I am working as a med chem team leader in a major pharmaceutical company in Europe(since 2 years after postdoc). I have some experience with patents (1 inventorship, several others to be published). Clearly after reading almost all of the postings, some questions still remain. I am considering this because I am very fascinated by the idea and this kind of work. To make a more informed decision, I thought to throw in a couple of additional points I am interested in.  
 
- What's the typical ( = typical student, not the top 1% - super brain student) workload one would have to expect (working hours in the firm + classes + preparation time (writing assignments, research courses...))?  
 
- Are there classes every night during the week?  
 
- Is it likely to be hired by the same firm as an attorney after completion of law school?  
 
- Is it very likely to be abused as a "research machine" after graduation by the partner you are working with?  
 
- what would a typical day look like during law school? What kind of work would one mostly be expected to do in the firm?  
 
- what would a typical day look like after law school, as a recent graduate (% administrative work, counseling, application preparation, ect...)?  
 
- Many firm have a certain number of billable hours in their NALP forms... What's a typical ratio of working time:billable hours (clearly >1, but is it 1.5?)  
 
- How many hours does the typical person (typical in terms of efficiency and talent) work?  
 
- What is the typical career path in a law firm? Are there a certain minimum number of years you have to work to be in theory considered for a partnership? I remember one law firm that stated that the years during law school would be considered as years towards partnership. Is that the rule, or the exception?  
 
Maybe some of you could comment on one or the other point. This would be very appreciated!  
 
Thank you all so far for your help. Bye, Chem.
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guest
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Re: questions before considering IP career
« Reply #1 on: Jun 11th, 2005, 10:58am »
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I went to a day-time only law school, but I hope this information helps somewhat. I'll be working at a major IP firm come this Fall, assuming I pass both the state and patent bars... mind you that I'll be a litigator, and not a prosecutor, so take this for what its worth
 
- What's the typical ( = typical student, not the top 1% - super brain student) workload one would have to expect (working hours in the firm + classes + preparation time (writing assignments, research courses...))?  
 
I know a number of people who enroll in law school after spending some time as an technology specialist/patent agent for a firm.  Under these circumstances, the firm might pay your way through law school.
 
Law school by itself consumes a lot of time.  Assignments and classes pretty much took up my entire day.  On top of that, if you're thinking about working full-time, it can be very busy.  People do it, but I can't recommend it.
 
 
- Are there classes every night during the week?  
 
This depends on your school and schedule.  I would suspect so, though.
 
 
- Is it likely to be hired by the same firm as an attorney after completion of law school?  
 
If you work as an agent for a firm first, you might get lucky enough to have the firm pay your law school bill.  After you graduate, you can start at this firm as an attorney.
 
Some firms will hire students as interns, and then give you a full time offer.  I don't know how this works with evening students.
 
 
- Is it very likely to be abused as a "research machine" after graduation by the partner you are working with?
 
Yes.  This is just how the legal profession works.
   
 
- what would a typical day look like during law school? What kind of work would one mostly be expected to do in the firm?  
 
Typical day is basically classes, and then reading.  If you have any writing courses, then you have to do the writing assignments on top of your other courses.
 
In your first years as an associate, you mainly write memoranda for the senior level attorneys.  This is basically legal research and writing.  Document review.  It can be mundane.
 
 
- what would a typical day look like after law school, as a recent graduate (% administrative work, counseling, application preparation, ect...)?  
 
I'm a recent law school grad, but I haven't started to work.  Expect little client interaction.  You mostly do research for the higher ups.  Perhaps you'll get some small application preparation assignments.
 
- Many firm have a certain number of billable hours in their NALP forms... What's a typical ratio of working time:billable hours (clearly >1, but is it 1.5?)  
 
My experience from working in firms - in an efficient 10 hour day, you can maybe expect to bill 7.5 to 8 hours.  Depends on how you take your lunches and breaks.
 
- How many hours does the typical person (typical in terms of efficiency and talent) work?  
 
- What is the typical career path in a law firm? Are there a certain minimum number of years you have to work to be in theory considered for a partnership? I remember one law firm that stated that the years during law school would be considered as years towards partnership. Is that the rule, or the exception?  
 
This is the exception.  In fact, I've never heard of that policy.
 
General timeframe to become an equity profit-sharing partner is 8-10 years.  It'll depend on the firm and your work habits.  Many people make it in less than 8 years.  Those who don't make it are generally asked to leave the firm.
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guest
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Re: questions before considering IP career
« Reply #2 on: Jun 11th, 2005, 11:02am »
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oops, forgot one -
 
 - How many hours does the typical person (typical in terms of efficiency and talent) work?    
 
This heavily depends on your firm and your work habits.
 
In most big firms, you can expect a 10-12 hour day.  More if its busy time, like right before a trial, etc...
 
Half a day each weekend.
 
 
 
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melwrc
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Re: questions before considering IP career
« Reply #3 on: Jun 11th, 2005, 12:36pm »
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The FT patent agent/PT law school is a very good route to go for your career and to avoid debt.
You'll graduate with 4 yrs experience, but will have only taken a yr longer to get the degree.  If you decide that you don't like the firm that you work at, you can leave it at graduation and be considered a 2nd or 3rd yr associate by other firms, including the big ones.  I know several people that have received such offers from other firms.
 
Of course, it isn't all positive.  It does grind on you to work all day, then attend 2-3 hrs of class and come home at 9.  You'll pretty much do this 3-4 days a week almost the entire year if you want to graduate in 4 yrs.  If law school doesn't come easy for you, you'll be in a real time crunch.
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chem
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Re: questions before considering IP career
« Reply #4 on: Jun 12th, 2005, 5:02am »
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Thanks so far for given information.
 
Melwrc (or anybody else):  
What would be a good predictor if one does well in Law school? How could I estimate if it would be relatively easy or extremly hard?  
I studied chemistry and worked a number of years in the lab. I can be quite persistent, consequent and I am able to cope with frustration.  What I don't know is if the type of stuff I will learn would be easy for me to understand and to absorb. Does the science degree offer an advantage since we already trained in abstracting and analytical thinking?
Thanks. Chem
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