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   Phd EE going to IP
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   Author  Topic: Phd EE going to IP  (Read 1762 times)
mosfet
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Phd EE going to IP
« on: Apr 25th, 2007, 3:54pm »
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Hello all,
 
i am 37 yrs old, have a phd in EE and have worked for 7 yrs in the IC industry, i am interested in becoming an IP attorney.
 
my questions are:
1) is IP law financially worth abandoning EE (lower six figures income currently).
 
2) is age a major drag (graduating at the age of 40, 41)?
 
3)how important is law school ranking for someone with my credentials?
 
thanks
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Ian
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Re: Phd EE going to IP
« Reply #1 on: Apr 27th, 2007, 5:01am »
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I'm only a 1st year student, so take my thoughts with a grain of salt.  (This is just from research I have done and talking with other students, so I may be wrong)
 
Most big firms in big cities start at like 125-145 for 1st year associates.  While that sounds really good, those firms expect their associates to work like 65-75 hours a week just to meet their billable hours requirements.  
 
To even get into these firms you have to go to a really good law school OR do really well in lower tier school.  
 
In a smaller firm you might only have to work 50-60 hours, but the compensation may only be 75-100k.  
 
So if it were me, I would go to law school if I was sincerely interested in the law/patent law.  Law school is very very time consuming, at least in the first year.  I use to be an engineer, and I went in thinking I was going to treat it just like a job.  Wrong, I work on average 12-14 hours per day and don't have time for much else.  I might get to watch 30 minutes of TV before I go to bed.  
 
The time commitment between law school and being a new associate at a firm is going to be very intense for probably 5-6 years.  That will take you into your low-mid 40's and depending on your firm, you may or may not be making more than you are now.  You may also have student loans, and the cost of a law degree now-a-days is close to 100k.  If that is a sacrifice you are willing to make, then go for it.  I would just make sure I wasn't doing it for the money, but rather a sincere interest in the law/patent law.  
 
I was making close to 100 as a software engineer before I went to law school.  I don't want to work 70 hours a week so I'll probably end up at a smaller firm making LESS than I did as an engineer. PLUS, I'll have a 100k loan.  I really enjoy the law so hopefully it was the right choice, but looking at it from a time/money perspective, it probably won't "pay off" until 10 years from now.
 
I'm not trying to discourage you at all.  I hated being an engineer and I love law school.  But if I didn't really hate my engineering job and I left it to make equivalent money and work MORE hours, I probably would be upset.
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mosfet
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Re: Phd EE going to IP
« Reply #2 on: Apr 27th, 2007, 11:38am »
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thank you Ian for your reply,
 
to be honest, it is about the money. since working 70-75 hr/week is all too familiar, i figured why not do a more lucrative thing, and besides i think practicing law is not as cumbersome as doing engineering work.
 
what about job market demand for IP attorneys, does everyone in class eventually lands a job, or is there more supply than demand?
 
thanks
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Ian
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Re: Phd EE going to IP
« Reply #3 on: Apr 28th, 2007, 5:11am »
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Mosfet,
 
It totally depends on your location and the quality of the school.  If you went to a really good school and did at least average, you would probably have no problem.  If you go to a lesser school, something ranking in the 3rd or 4th tier, you probably would want to be in at least the top 20%.  
 
Location is also very important.  You either need to live close to a large city that has a lot of technology, such as Boston, NY, DC, San Fran or be willing to relocate upon graduation to wherever you get a job.
 
I imagine if your smart enough to get a PHD in EE, you'll have no problem in law school at all.  I was an engineer and I find that law school exams are very much like writing a software program.  The way engineers think is very adaptable to legal analysis.  The analytical skills you develop as an engineer give you a huge advantage over other students who came from liberal art backgrounds.  
 
If you do decide to go to law school.... Make sure you do really well on the LSAT.  Take a prep course, study for at least 3-4 months.  Its by far the most important factor towards getting into a good school.  Your going to spend 3 years + 50-100k dollars, so its in your best interest to spend a few months studying and 1000 bucks on a review course.  The quality of the school you attend is critical to getting a high paying job.  
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Zinger
Newbie
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Posts: 11
Re: Phd EE going to IP
« Reply #4 on: Apr 28th, 2007, 8:36am »
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1) is IP law financially worth abandoning EE (lower six figures income currently).
 
If I were 37 with your credentials and salary, I would just stick it out with engineering.  Making the transition will be a long, arduous process.  I personally do not think it is worth it.  If you want to move on to something else later in life, why not consulting?
 
2) is age a major drag (graduating at the age of 40, 41)?
 
To be honest, your age is not going to work in your favor, especially at the large firms that pay 145-160k for first year associates.  A boutique firm might place more emphasis on your education and experience (which is certainly a plus for you) and overlook your age.
 
3)how important is law school ranking for someone with my credentials?  
 
Depends, what do you want to do?   If you're interested in IP litigation at a large firm, law school ranking is very important.   If you're interested in patent prosecution at a boutique, your technical expertise will usually be more important than your law school credentials.
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