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   Help! college student needs adive to become p.l
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aarista
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Help! college student needs adive to become p.l
« on: Nov 12th, 2006, 8:29pm »
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Hey to all of you experts out there, im a very curious student with loads of questions and need answers. Im a student in college right now getting a degree in biochemistry and someone recomended I look into patent law. Law school is something I have been considering recently so I have a lot of questions.  
 
1) What exactly is the process of becoming a patent attorney?
 
2) Is a b.a in biochemistry and J.D from law school enough or do I need a PhD in biochem?  
 
3) What exactly does a patent lawyer do on a typical day?
 
4) if I got a degree in biochemistry, can I go into other fields in patent law?
 
5) If you happen to know, what would the starting salary be in new york? Are patent lawyers needed in ny?
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Linus83
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Re: Help! college student needs adive to become p.
« Reply #1 on: Nov 15th, 2006, 10:17am »
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Hey Aarista, it’s good to know you are asking some of the right questions this early in your endeavor.  I have done my best to answer all of your questions.  I hope this helps.  
 
If anybody else disagrees or finds errors in this message, please correct me!  I hate to give out false information.  
 
1) What exactly is the process of becoming a patent attorney?
 
First, get a college degree in one of the majors listed on page 6 of the General Requirements Bulletin (sorry, this forum won’t let me post the link).
 
From here, you can decide to go to law school.  Whether you do or don’t, you can take the patent bar exam any time you want.  You will need a particular type (science or engineering) of college degree to take the exam.  Passing the patent bar exam without a J.D. will make you a patent agent.  Passing the bar exam with a J.D. will make you a patent attorney.  You will also need to be admitted to the state bar to be a patent attorney.  
 
There are two types of patent practitioners:  Attorneys and agents.  A patent agent is one with a degree in science or engineering that has passed the patent bar exam and is registered with the USPTO.  Furthermore, an agent does not have a law degree, and cannot draft trademark applications or perform litigations.  A patent attorney requires a J.D., and admittance to the state bar and the patent bar.  Yes, you are allowed to go to law school after passing the patent bar exam.  Upon graduation from law school and passing the state bar, you would automatically become a patent attorney, provided you are in good standing.  
 
It is not absolutely necessary to become a patent attorney at this point in time for you, but that is just my opinion.  I graduated in 2005 with a B.S. in biochemistry, and have not applied to any grad schools yet.  This is because I would like to get some experience drafting some applications and then decide a) if I like it, and b) the best course of action to take from there (Ph.D., J.D., quit my job, etc...).    
 
I find biochemistry as a rather strange degree to have.  On one hand, you can’t really do much with just a bachelor’s degree; it just carries potential.  On the other hand, once you choose a graduate career (Ph.D., M.D., J.D., etc.), you’re pretty much stuck doing that for the rest of your life.  If you’re not careful, grad school can turn out to be the worst decision you’ve ever made and will paint you into a corner.  
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Linus83
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Re: Help! college student needs adive to become p.
« Reply #2 on: Nov 15th, 2006, 10:28am »
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2) Is a ba in biochemistry and J.D from law school enough or do I need a PhD in biochem?  
 
Technically, a BS is enough.  From here, you have options:
 
If you read some of the job descriptions out there, they usually mention something like “Ph.D. a plus,” but not always required.  Of course, the pay goes way up with job experience and the more letters you have after your name.  
 
I wouldn’t recommend doing something like getting both a Ph.D. and a J.D. (although I know some people who have), because personally I don’t see the point in working that hard and spending that much time and money for something you might not like doing once you get out of school.  Also, I personally have no reason whatsoever to dedicate my life to patent law.  
 
3) What exactly does a patent lawyer do on a typical day?
 
I wouldn’t know the answer to this.  I am setting my sights on landing a job as a patent agent right now.  The good news is that you have plenty of time to figure this question out.  For now, the best insight I could give would be to focus on finishing your degree, and then focus on passing the patent bar exam (if you still feel inclined to pursue patent law after you graduate).  
 
4) if I got a degree in biochemistry, can I go into other fields in patent law?
 
I’m assuming you mean fields like biotech and chemistry?  I believe so.  Can anybody else verify this?
 
Also, I’m not sure if you knew this, but patent law is only one of several fields of intellectual property law.  There’s copyright law, entertainment law, etc.  In this case, yes, you can pursue any type of law you want with a biochem degree because you can get into law school with any major.    
 
5) If you happen to know, what would the starting salary be in new york? Are patent lawyers needed in ny?
 
You can use any search engine for info on starting salaries.  You might not make $100,000 starting off, though, so don’t get your hopes up.  
   
My advice is “don’t chase money.”  Especially in this field.  A lot of people are drawn into it by the dollar signs, and are unhappy working for a paycheck rather than doing something they like.  That is why you should never let any school or corporation convince you what the job market is seeking and how you can “easily get in on it” and make money.  If you don’t chase money, then you eliminate the hot button that these schools and corporations use to get to you, and hence you will have a good head on your shoulders and also have a better chance at success.    
 
Patent lawyers are needed all over.  An important trend to know is that different cities require different science degrees.  For instance, San Fransisco is Silicon Valley, and usually hires patent attorneys with computer science degrees.  San Diego is the Biochem corner of the world, and hence would most likely have a need for people like us.  The trend I have noticed in New York City is a need for people with engineering degrees.  Keep in mind that these are trends, and there are exceptions.
 
Hope this helps!  
 
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katie
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Re: Help! college student needs adive to become p.
« Reply #3 on: Nov 16th, 2006, 10:46am »
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I would say a BS in Biochemistry cannot be a successful patent attorney, if you are going to focus on your work for patent drafting, infringement analysis. Let's face it a PhD in biochemistry not only did 4 or 5 more years of schooling, that effort is translated into a system of how to understand the complicated issues in biotech area. I myself work in a law firm with PhD in biochem, without passing the bar/going to law school yet, but will do. My firm has a BS in Biology who did almost 6 years patent attorney work but has not drafted one piece of biochem patent. why? the client simply won't let you do it if you have no advanced degree in the this area. It is different from chemistry, engineering,etc., biotech sussessful attorneys all went through the training of PhD in our local law firms, therefore earn the respect and credit from their clients. remember No Pains No gains.
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disagree
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Re: Help! college student needs adive to become p.
« Reply #4 on: Nov 16th, 2006, 11:08am »
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I disagree completely.   4 or 5 more years is wasted on a single subject.   Those with a broad B.S. touch on all areas and can understand the science.   It just isnt that complicated.   There is nothing a PhD can do that a B.S. cannot.   It really just comes down to the initals and a law firms ability to promote.   Clients can say they have a PhD on their application.    
 
Seriously,  you spent years problem solving, while great, you can learn that in law school.  Moreover, a B.S. has a foundation and anything new will not be beyond comprehension, you just need to look it up.   I work with plently of PhD's and sometimes things are said that I am not sure of, I go to my reference desk, and say "Oh ya, I remember that".   It is not a big deal.
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