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   Current PhD student looking at Patent Law
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   Author  Topic: Current PhD student looking at Patent Law  (Read 7938 times)
Courtney Johnson
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Current PhD student looking at Patent Law
« on: Aug 4th, 2005, 5:50pm »
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Hi all! I am currently a graduate student pursuing a PhD in Pharmacology. I am very intereted in attending law school and entering the Biotech patent field. From reading the posts on this site, I am getting a very bleak picture of the future. Is it worth attending Law school and pursuing this option, or would I be better off exploring other fields?
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PiP
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Posts: 74
Re: Current PhD student looking at Patent Law
« Reply #1 on: Aug 4th, 2005, 6:36pm »
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Here is my salary breakdown.  Somebody else please chime in as to whether I'm correct?
 
Postdoc: $35-50k  (don't forget, HHMI pays more!) +/- benefits package with healthcare coverage
 
Biotech or Large pharma scientist: $50-80k postdoc or entry level assistant scientist position
 
Biotech Consulting: start at $70-90k
 
Biotech IP law without JD: start at $60-90k +/- bonus
 
IP law with JD: start at $120-150k + bonus
« Last Edit: Aug 6th, 2005, 1:08pm by PiP » IP Logged
Courtney
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Re: Current PhD student looking at Patent Law
« Reply #2 on: Aug 6th, 2005, 8:13am »
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What kind of opportunities and openings are available in each of those areas? From what I've been hearing, there are more people trying to get some of those jobs than there are jobs available (especially IP law with or without the JD).
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PiP
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Re: Current PhD student looking at Patent Law
« Reply #3 on: Aug 6th, 2005, 9:32am »
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Regardless of opportunity, I think the JD/PhD has the most job security which is why I am pursuing that track. What you do in that position is pretty obvious so I won't go into it. Consulting would rank second once you get a little experience and would likely provide the best environment in which you could take time to raise kids if you like as my friends in that field seem to have lots of vacation (without the kid factor) and a fluid work environment.  Notably, you can combine fields by working as a patent consultant.  Anyway, as consultant you would probably review a compound development pipeline or grant review process.  Something like that.
 
It is worth noting that as a biotech scientist you are completely expendable as there are at least 10 other people waiting to take your position at any time.  Plus, biotech work strikes me as high-level factory work as you hold shift-type hours and have a glamorous day of work, lunch, work, go home that is tightly regulated by GLP, etc.  The only biotech position that is not readily replaceable is Safety Assessment Toxicologist, as that function is integral to corporate profits and therefore too much turnover in that area is extremely dangerous to the company as a whole.
 
I think that job openings are equally difficult to land across these fields we are discussing (except postdocs, which you can get anywhere.)  Once you start talking about non-JD positions in law, however, I think these are MUCH harder to come by.  Either you have to know someone or be the right person for a position at the exact right moment in order to get a job.  The latter is often true anyway, but is worse if you don't have a necessary degree for the field.  However, obviously some guys on here are doing really well in IP law without a JD, such as 'PatentType.'  
 
The degree with the most potential is PhD/MBA, but that puts you in a completely undefined job and is risky, IMO.
 
It seems to me that in general PhD people hate competition, but in real life outside of grad school that is all you're going to get.  A job that doesn't have a lot of applicants is either poorly advertised or, more likely, is not a great position in the 1st place.  If you are unsure of what to do next, in my experience I see that postdoctoral work for about 2 years often directs people to a good position.  
 
Career-wise, I think you'll be happy and fine if you follow through on your dream to attend law school.  I started my PhD with that goal in mind and intend to follow through on it.  But it is definitely worth considering these other options.  The attorneys with whom I work in Tech Transfer at my University got out of large law firms due to the pressure and time requirements.  They wanted to spend more time with their families.  Notably, one of them blames her law firm for her divorce.  You have to assess your personal circumstances and go from there.  For me, finding my field was a bit like finding my PhD laboratory.  I 'rotated' through a series of potential options (pretty much the list in my above post) and then I just fell in love with biotech IP law. Hope you have the same epiphany.
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IPW
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Re: Current PhD student looking at Patent Law
« Reply #4 on: Aug 6th, 2005, 2:01pm »
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PiP,
 
Where are you looking at for law school?
 
I too am a soon to be Ph.D. with an interest in biotech IP law.
 
I'll finish with my Ph.D. in the spring of '06 and plan to attend law school next fall.
 
Sorting through all the information about law schools and their IP programs can be quite the daunting task.
 
Right now, I am planning on applying to these law schools and figuring it out from there: Stanford, Cal-Berkeley, Michigan, Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Notre Dame, Northwestern, Nebraska, Chicago-Kent, Wisconsin, UT-Austin, and Cal-Hastings.  
 
In case you are curious, I have an account at lawschoolnumbers.com.
 
My handle is IPW.
 
Good Luck!
Take care.
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