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   Patent Law vs. Engineering
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Dani
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Patent Law vs. Engineering
« on: Nov 19th, 2006, 2:57am »
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ok, well first off, im 20 years old and attend Lawrence Technological University in Detroit Michigan, im a junior and going for my CE degree. I am considering going into Patent Law and becoming a Patent Attorney, I have not taken my exam too become a Patent Agent yet. I had a few questions , if any people would be so kind to bestow their knowledge on me, it would be greatly appreciated.
 
1  in the long run considering in the future I got a MD in CE, whos average salary would be larger?
2  Is it worth time and effort to become a Patent attorney?
3 what is starting salarys of both fields.
4  what are work aspects of both fields.
5 Which field must more time be put in, once the title is aquired meaning hr/wk.
 
Thank all for posting, this would really help me out into making a decision for myself. --- Dani
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Ian
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Re: Patent Law vs. Engineering
« Reply #1 on: Nov 19th, 2006, 10:48am »
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I'm not a patent attorney, but I'm in law school right now trying to become one.  I have a computer science degree and I worked as an engineer for about 5-6 years before going to law school.
 
My salary as an engineer was near 6 figures, but I didn't enjoy the work.  My starting salary as a lawyer probably won't be as high as my engineering salary.  The difference is that an engineer's salary tops out at around 100 (depending on location) where as a lawyer can earn much more.  You really have to think about the cost.  I'm going to have 100k in student loans when I'm done.  I wonít earn any money for 3 years and I'll be 29 when I graduate.  (So Iím like 400k behind where I would have been if I continued my career as an engineer)  Also as a lawyer, youíre going to have to work a LOT more hours.  I worked 40-45 hours as an engineer and left my job at work.  From what I gather from other students and 1st/2nd year associates is that I'll be working 60-70 hours a week at least for the first few years.  
 
Itís really hard to do, and maybe it takes life experience for someone to see it themselves, but money really isnít important.  Youíre going to be comfortable whether or not youíre an engineer or a lawyer.  100k or 150k isnít going to make you happy.  What does the extra 50k a year buy you?  500 more square feet in your house?  A German car instead of a Japanese?  Your main goal should be to really enjoy your job and like the work you do.  If you like engineering, and it makes you happy then you should do engineering.  
 
Personally, as an engineer I felt like I was just a well paid grunt.  I was just a line item on a budget, a cog in the machine.  I was in a cubical 40 hours a week with very little person to person interaction.
 
Also make sure you enjoy writing.  If youíre thinking about becoming an attorney, take as many writing classes as you can.  (Technical writing rather than creative)  I took all math/science/engineering in college and my writing was horrible (itís still not very good).  It just makes it much more difficult in law school if you have to learn basic writing AND legal writing at the same time.    
 
Good luck.
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Bill Richards
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Re: Patent Law vs. Engineering
« Reply #2 on: Nov 19th, 2006, 11:48am »
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I'm sure Ian's comments reflect his own circumstances and may, in fact, be the norm.  But, let me offer another perspective.  (I spent over 30 years in engineering and engineering management, 25 at a major oil company.)  
on Nov 19th, 2006, 10:48am, Ian wrote:
The difference is that an engineer's salary tops out at around 100 (depending on location) where as a lawyer can earn much more.

This is probably true in many companies, but there are two other things to think about.  First, many companies offer very highly-paid technical positions where one has no supervisory or management responsibilities.  Second, engineering management can offer substantial economic benefits.
on Nov 19th, 2006, 10:48am, Ian wrote:
You really have to think about the cost. †I'm going to have 100k in student loans when I'm done. †I wonít earn any money for 3 years and I'll be 29 when I graduate. †(So Iím like 400k behind where I would have been if I continued my career as an engineer)

I agree.  While I was fortunate enough to be able to not only go part-time (another option) and work full-time (good income all the while), my employer paid for most of my tuition.  There are companies out there that will do that, but probably not for entry-level engineers.
on Nov 19th, 2006, 10:48am, Ian wrote:

 †Also as a lawyer, youíre going to have to work a LOT more hours. †I worked 40-45 hours as an engineer and left my job at work. †From what I gather from other students and 1st/2nd year associates is that I'll be working 60-70 hours a week at least for the first few years.

This is true in many law firms, but not all.  I spent my first two years at a major Midwest lawfirm and there were associates that worked long hours and those that came in, did their billable hours, and went home.  It took lots of self-discipline, but it was possible.  Having said that, most lawyers do work long hours.  But, then so do some engineers and, especially engineering managers. †
on Nov 19th, 2006, 10:48am, Ian wrote:

Itís really hard to do, and maybe it takes life experience for someone to see it themselves, but money really isnít important. †Youíre going to be comfortable whether or not youíre an engineer or a lawyer. †100k or 150k isnít going to make you happy. †What does the extra 50k a year buy you? †500 more square feet in your house? †A German car instead of a Japanese? †Your main goal should be to really enjoy your job and like the work you do. †If you like engineering, and it makes you happy then you should do engineering.

Ian is speaking with wisdom well beyond his years.  This is absolutely the bottom line.  And, it's a personal decision which no one can make for you.
Good Luck!
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William B. Richards, P.E.
The Richards Law Firm
Patents, Trademarks, and Copyrights
614/939-1488
Dani
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Re: Patent Law vs. Engineering
« Reply #3 on: Nov 19th, 2006, 11:03pm »
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Thanks guys, that helps out alot, if anyone else could leave some feed back that would be great, Also was wondering about job security in these fields if anyone knows?
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jer2911tx
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Re: Patent Law vs. Engineering
« Reply #4 on: Feb 4th, 2007, 7:43pm »
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i'm planning on starting law school in the fall (probably smu, still waiting on scholarship $$$ from some acceptances).
i did nuclear engineering in the navy, got my mech eng degree from texas a&m, then went into aerospace engineering (american airlines, then lockheed martin).  i just got a sweet promotion at work, but the guy i replaced retired at one pay level ahead of me, so i'm looking at 3-5% raises from here on out, with one possible promotion.  i may take a paycut my first gig out of law school, but i won't be as limited in earning potential after that.
 
now, if i can just decide which patent bar prep course is the right choice for me to take the patent bar exam before this fall.
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