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   Patent attorney w/o advanced degree
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derek
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Patent attorney w/o advanced degree
« on: Apr 30th, 2006, 1:36pm »
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I have a BS in chemistry and  I wanted to go into intellectual property law to eventually work in the biotech company as a patent attorney. I have noticed that many people who do this have advanced degrees, however some only have bachelors. Is it a requirement to have an advanced degree to prusue this type of work? Is it possible to go in this field with only a bachelors? Thanks.
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chemichael
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Re: Patent attorney w/o advanced degree
« Reply #1 on: Apr 30th, 2006, 6:14pm »
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Derek,
 
With only a Bachelors degree, your desired career path is going to be tough.  The competition for in house counsel positions can be very tough.  Most companies want someone who has at least 5-7 years of law firm experience in patent prosecution and/or litigation.  Most firms that do prosecution work in Biotech are looking for agents/attorneys with an advanced degree (masters may work for some positions).  You do not need an advanced degree to do patent litigation.
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Isaac
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Re: Patent attorney w/o advanced degree
« Reply #2 on: Apr 30th, 2006, 6:57pm »
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Is all of the work for chemists biotech related?
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Isaac
chemichael
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Re: Patent attorney w/o advanced degree
« Reply #3 on: Apr 30th, 2006, 7:31pm »
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Isaac,
 
Your question is a good one.  No, all of the work for chemists is not biotech; however, my experience has been that even with chemists, firms are looking for folks with advanced degrees.  I think there are several reasons for that.  One, even in firms that have a separate chemical and biotech group, there is often significant overlap in terms of the cases they work on.  Second, alot of firms don't separate these practices into different groups (My firm has always operated that way).  I certainly cannot speak for all firms, but that has been my experience here in the southeast U.S.  
« Last Edit: Apr 30th, 2006, 7:33pm by chemichael » IP Logged
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Re: Patent attorney w/o advanced degree
« Reply #4 on: May 1st, 2006, 4:48pm »
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Hi Derek,
 
You do not need an advance degree to do patent prosecution, you only need to pass the patent exam.  Keep in mind you will be competing against people with advance degrees, but with enough patience, networking and perserverance, you can find a job, it may not be your ideal job, but it will eventually lead to your ideal job.  If you want to do patent litigation, copyright, licensing or trademark work, (all of which fall under the umbrella of intellectual property law), you have to have a Juris Doctorate.    
 
I work in the patent department for a medium size biotech company.  The department has 2 patent agents, (one with a PhD, the other with a BA - that's me), and four patent attorneys, (one with an engineering degree, two with BS degrees and one with a PhD).  All the attorneys here previously worked in law firms for at least 3 years, but left before becoming partners at their respective firms.  Talking with the attorneys here, the general trend for law firms is if you have a PhD, you tend to do patent prosecution, if you have a Bachelors, you tend to do patent litigation.  The in-house attorneys I work with do everything from prosecution to litigation to licensing.  
 
Keep in mind that in-house generally does not pay as much as a law firm, (trade off for better hours), if you are willing to take a small paycut, or accept matching pay, you have a great chance of being hired over someone with outstanding credentials that would demand too high of a salary.  
 
Also, there are other ways of getting into patent prosecution with out going through a law firm.  My co-worker, the patent agent with a PhD, was recruited and trained by the patent department for the University where he was working as a researcher.  Other people have transitioned from patent liason or technology analyst positions.
 
Seeing as you have a chemistry degree, are you currently working?  If you are, does your company have a patent department?  If they do, have you started networking with the attorneys?
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