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(Message started by: Drew83 on Mar 28th, 2006, 2:30pm)

Title: 2 paths - IP (Law) or MBA?
Post by Drew83 on Mar 28th, 2006, 2:30pm
Greetings All,

I am seeking advice for whether IP is for me.  I enjoy engineering (i.e. the concepts, theories, equations, etc...), but after working for about a year (I graduated with a BSME last year), I am quickly realizing that I don't want to pursue engineering as my career.

My two paths are either MBA or JD (JD - with the intent on pursuing IP).  Obviously, with the MBA I would change careers to finance, marketing, or sales.

It seems to me that Law in general is more documentation, whereas types of jobs with an MBA involve more innovative/creative activities.  One deterrent about getting an MBA is that is has become saturated - everyone is getting one or has one.  On the other hand, with law, I would have an engineering degree combined with a law degree, which I believe would definitley make me more marketable in other fields in case I find out practicing IP law isnt for me.  Any truth to this?

In regards to getting an MBA, it seems that there are a multitude of career options that you can choose from.  I understand that this also applies to law school, however, hypothetically lets say that you practice IP for 4-5 years and realize that this isnt for you.....what other career options do you have (excluding in-house careers)?

I do like writing, however, I dont love writing.  Will this be a problem?  I do enjoy reading.  I've reviewed some published patents, and the writing involved seems pretty monotonous - I'm not sure if I want to be drafting patents.  I guess what I like most about IP is the general concept of it.  The whole idea that IP can either make or break a company.  It is the largest asset that many companies have and it needs to be protected.    

I think that I would like everything about IP, except actually drafting patents.  I know that I can target litigation, but, to be honest the long hours of a litigator are not very appealing to me.  Is this going to be a problem?

Maybe I should target the MBA....?  Any thoughts?

Title: Re: 2 paths - IP (Law) or MBA?
Post by Isaac on Mar 28th, 2006, 2:45pm
There are a number of programs offering a four year JD/MBA degree.  Perhaps you don't have to chose yet :)

Title: Re: 2 paths - IP (Law) or MBA?
Post by SciGuy on Mar 28th, 2006, 3:31pm
The JD might give you more options down the road.  It is easier to do business with a law degree then it is to do law with a business degree.  In the biotech world some say that the best CEOs have a science background and expertise in tax and labor law.

Title: Re: 2 paths - IP (Law) or MBA?
Post by jd78605w on Mar 28th, 2006, 7:00pm
Unless you want to be a Lawyer, DO NOT get a law degree. Rather choose MBA.

Title: Re: 2 paths - IP (Law) or MBA?
Post by Drew83 on Mar 28th, 2006, 9:00pm
Thanks for your replies!

So from an attorney's perspective, if I do not think that I would enjoy drafting patents (as mentioned above, I think it is very tedious), would you still recommend pursuing IP law?

I do like the fact that IP deals with new technolgy, thereby, you are learning many new types of ideas/concepts, but how fun can drafting patents get?

Thanks in advance.

Title: Re: 2 paths - IP (Law) or MBA?
Post by byte on Mar 28th, 2006, 10:35pm
You've mentioned reviewing some issued patents, but is that the basis on which you don't think you'd enjoy drafting patents?  Have you found out what is required in the different sections of a patent, the peculiar and fascinating way in which claims need to be structured to be allowable, anything of the process involved in prosecution, etc?  Until you get a basic grasp on the prosecution process, I'd think it would be very hard to decide whether it's something you'll enjoy.  As a result of talking to some agents, I am pursuing patent law because of the logic, writing and argumentation involved.

I laughed a little when you mentioned an MBA allowing more creative activities.  Maybe.  From what I've seen, though -- and I'm in a very similar situation to your's except I am an electrical engineer -- MBAs in engineering are simply the ones piping the overzealous and often unrealistic schedules that no one can keep, and the ones looking at Microsoft Project and wondering why today's date isn't matching up with the date on the end of that blue bar in the Gantt chart.  Granted, I'm sure there are plenty of other options.  But I don't think it would be as intellectually stimulating, and yes, that's just my opinion based on my preferences.

My suggestion, though I am hardly one in a position to offer one, is to consider studying for and taking the patent registration exam.  This will allow you to a) Gain familiarity with patent prosecution as it concerns questions on the exam, and b) Upon passing the exam, work as a patent agent (if you can find a job) and find out if you like it _before_ investing the considerable time and daunting money required to obtain a JD.

Title: Re: 2 paths - IP (Law) or MBA?
Post by Drew83 on Mar 29th, 2006, 6:38am
Thanks byte for your reply.

You are correct - Just by reviewing issued patents is the basis to which I am determining whether I would enjoy drafting patents.  I know the best way is obviously practicing, however, I am trying to get a feel without having to leave my engineering job.  I have taken a class on IP and I did enjoy it (but then again, this was an just overview of patents, trademarks, and copyrights - not drafting patents).    

As for the MBA, I do not want to manage engineering with it.  I would definitely leave engineering for the sales/marketing/finance side of things (whether at an engineering company or a marketing/finance firm).  This is why I felt it involved more innovative activities....  


Title: Re: 2 paths - IP (Law) or MBA?
Post by Drew83 on Mar 29th, 2006, 6:57am
Just to add on a little more......

I feel that if I pursue becoming an IP attorney, much time will be needed to practice, thereby, giving no time for investment opportunities, such as realestate, opening a business (i.e. restaurant), spending time to invest in the stock market.  Is this true?

These are some of the things that I would like to do in the near future and I feel that it can be done much easier if I pursue the MBA route (i.e I would have MORE time).  Any thoughts?

Thanks again!

Title: Re: 2 paths - IP (Law) or MBA?
Post by guest on Mar 29th, 2006, 6:02pm
Sounds like an MBA is overkill for what you want to do, and has its own opportunity costs which might outweigh the benefits.

FWIW, I have an MBA, work at the USPTO, and am planning on starting law school in fall of '07.

Title: Re: 2 paths - IP (Law) or MBA?
Post by Jimmy on Mar 29th, 2006, 8:40pm
Drew, I'm in the *exact* same position as you it's almost scary.  The only thing different is that I graduated last year with a BSEE instead of a BSME.  Otherwise, our situations/thoughts are almost identical.  I keep going back and forth between MBA and JD.

Title: Re: 2 paths - IP (Law) or MBA?
Post by Drew83 on Mar 29th, 2006, 8:53pm
Jimmy,

I guess I should say I feel bad for you....lol I'm sure there are several others in our shoes as well (maybe?). That is very random how our feelings/thoughts are identical. Luckily we were able to find this forum. It has provided much insight, however, reading about it is no where near actually practicing - so decisions are still very difficult.

How serious are you considering IP law?

Title: Re: 2 paths - IP (Law) or MBA?
Post by Kim_MSME on Apr 18th, 2006, 1:07pm
Drew and Jimmy,

I too am in a similar position.  However, I took things a step further by getting a master's degree in mechanical engineering.  I figured I would need more than a bachelor's, since it seems everyone is getting a four-year degree now.  I'm currently writing my thesis, and I've recently been toying with the idea of going into patent law.  A lawyer friend suggested it to me a couple years ago, though he himself is not a patent lawyer.  It should also be noted that I am currently in Michigan, where your average automotive union worker with a GED makes much more than your entry-level MSME, and I'm having a tough time just getting interviews for engineering positions.

I have also considered the MBA route.  If you find anymore information, or hear any more opinions, please post it.  I'm really interested to hear what you find.

Thanks,
Kim
   

Title: Re: 2 paths - IP (Law) or MBA?
Post by L on Apr 18th, 2006, 3:31pm
In terms of money-making potential--

If you can get into a top-5 MBA program, go to business school.

Otherwise go to the best law school you can get into.

Title: Re: 2 paths - IP (Law) or MBA?
Post by guest on Apr 18th, 2006, 3:58pm
With a lot of patience and networking, you could transition into a job that would introduce you to the patent or business field.  For example, a job as a technology specialist or patent researcher or business development associate or marketing associate would give you some hands on experience and get your foot in the door.  If you are working for a medium or large size company, start introducing yourself to people in other departments, especially business development (aka strategic planning), marketing and if there is one, the legal department.  

There is a lot of work that goes into patent prosecution and reading an issued patent is not an accurate way to gauge the work.  Most of the work is spent researching the invention, determining how it is different from everything else out there, (this is were creativity can come in handy), and presenting arguments to the examiner.  There is a lot of writing, however, once the bulk of the application is written (background, summary and description) and submitted, changes generally are only made to the claims.  Additionally, if you are filing several patents for one client you can cut and paste from one application to another, if the technology is similar.  To get a glimse, go onto the USPTO website and pull up a recent patent under the PAIR search engine (http://portal.uspto.gov/external/portal/pair) and look at the "image file wrapper" tab.  Clicking on the title will link you to a PDF of the document.  Reading through several different patent file wrappers should give you a better idea of all that goes on during prosecution.

Other patent related legal opportunities, aside from prosecution and litigation, include licensing, opinion writing (determining the validity of a patent), IP portfolio managment and patent valuation (helping companies determine how much to spend for IP rights).  

Title: Re: 2 paths - IP (Law) or MBA?
Post by chada on Apr 18th, 2006, 8:44pm
why don't u do dual degree MBA/JD
you can do it in 4 years!!


Title: Re: 2 paths - IP (Law) or MBA?
Post by bjr on Apr 19th, 2006, 1:04pm
I have a BSME, MBA, and I attend law school by night and work as a Patent Agent by day.  I had many of the same feelings as you at one time or another.  

After I graduated with an MBA from an unranked school, I found it very hard to land an interview for a high-level finance position (e.g. venture cap or IB).  My mechanical engineering experience was absolutely worthless in that realm.  But, marketing and sales may be a different story.  

Patent law always sounded like an interesting career to me.  I like to write, as opposed to love, and I love to analyze.   Keep in mind that drafting a patent app isn't all about writing.  In fact, IMO drafting claims, for example, is 95% analysis/strategy and 5% writing.  My love of new technology and analysis keeps me fascinated in this field.  

I suggest that you search for a marketing or sales position with a technical company before investing in either an MBA or JD.

Title: Re: 2 paths - IP (Law) or MBA?
Post by JAYC on Apr 19th, 2006, 6:15pm

For bjr,

Do you think having an MBA as well as a law degree will help in your future career as a patent attorney?  

Title: Re: 2 paths - IP (Law) or MBA?
Post by bjr on Apr 20th, 2006, 8:00am
I don't think that the MBA will have a direct impact on my law career.  

However, the MBA has its merits, e.g. if I ever manage a business or law firm I will be more familiar with the financial side, then I would have been sans MBA.  

The MBA was gratis and at that time in my life I wanted to stay intellectually active after my day job ended at 5pm.

Title: Re: 2 paths - IP (Law) or MBA?
Post by Drew83 on Apr 20th, 2006, 8:16pm
Thanks everyone for your replies!

That's intersting Kim_MSME that you are in Michigan.  I too am in MI and currently work in the auto industry, however, I am with a Japanese company and luckily we are doing quite well.

That advice (bjr) is one I've heard often.  I can try to move into consulting or sales/marketing and try it for a year.  It would probably be the best move.  That way if I dont like it, more power to law school.  However, I am in a good position now (financially and experience related), so it would have to be worth it.

I thought about the JD/MBA, however, having an engineering, business, and law degree might not be the best thing.  How does the saying go?  "Jack of All Trades, Master at Nothing."  But I guess if you are doing IP this doesnt apply because you need the Eng degree...

I recently enrolled in a GMAT prep course (Company pays for it).  I'll see how I do.  If do not do well enough to get into a top 20 school, I don't think that the MBA will help me much.  I'm probably better off having those two years of work experience that I would lose by going go B-school.  Anyone disagree??

Anyways, I'll probably take the LSAT as well this fall.  I might as well take both tests until I make up my mind.  

Thanks
Drew

Title: Re: 2 paths - IP (Law) or MBA?
Post by guest on Apr 22nd, 2006, 6:24pm
I'd take both the practice LSAT and GMAT from one of the review course orginizastions (Kaplan, Princeton,etc.).  They'll let you do it for free (or at least they used to). Then based on whichever one you score higher in (compared to the other applicants) take the review course for that one, and then the actual test.

For all practical purposes, whether you get an MBA or JD isn't going to matter that much.  What will matter is the quality of the school you get into.  You'll have no idea whether or not you'll like the job you think you want until you've worked for a few years.  What career planning, recruters, and the career books tell you about a career has no real bearing on whether or not you'll like the career.   The only way to tell is to work for a while.  If you have a degree from a top 30 or so law school or top buisness school, it'll make it a lot easier to change careers and will open up more options for you.

That being said, if the scores are close, look at what the enrollment situation is like.  If everybody is enrolling in buisness school, go to law school, and vice versa.  It makes it a lot easier to find jobs if you're in a market where the supply is lower than demand.

One other thing, don't believe all this garbage you here about how hard you're going to have to work.  It's easy enough to find a job that has reasonable hours.  The problem is nobody wants to do it.  I think it must be something about the psychology of people who get JDs and MBAs.  Lots of type A personalities.  Whatever, good for them, let 'em compete for the 80 hour work weeks.  I'm out of the office at 5:30.

Title: Re: 2 paths - IP (Law) or MBA?
Post by Drew83 on Apr 25th, 2006, 7:33pm
Thanks for the advice.  I have spoken to a couple of IP attorney's, however, not so much with people in the sales/marketing field.  I must say that I got a much better vibe from speaking with the attorney's then I do reading forums like this....

I am assuming that you are a practicing attorney.  I understand that you dont "have " to work the crazy hours, however, isnt it a trade off with salary?

And then once you become partner (assuming that you stay with the firm), it seems that you would need to be there (at the firm) ALL the time....which relates back to the crazy hours.

Title: Re: 2 paths - IP (Law) or MBA?
Post by guest on Apr 27th, 2006, 3:48pm
I am assuming that you are a practicing attorney.

yeah, I'm a praticing attorney.  


I must say that I got a much better vibe from speaking with the attorney's then I do reading forums like this....

That's because the attorneys know what they're talking about  ;)


I understand that you dont "have " to work the crazy hours, however, isnt it a trade off with salary?

Yes and no.  For example, compare a 1st year attorney in a small firm making 100k, but only working 40 hours a week, with an attorney at a big firm making 120-130K, but working 70-80 hours.  That's a difference of 30-40 hours a week for 20-30K pre-tax.  Now consider taxes, you have to pay 50% or so tax on that 20-30K, so it's relly 10-15K.  Is that worth an extra 30-40 hours per week?  

There are somedrawbacks (or pluses depending on your personality) of working at a small firm.  First, you have to produce and be flexable.  They're not going to put up with screw ups and poorly wriitten applications.  The screw ups cost the partner time and money.  Also, clients come and go, so you have to be able to deal with different technologies.  Second, big firm jobs look better on a resume, but they limit you on the technologies you've worked on.  From what I've heard (I was lucky enough never to work at one), big firms pigeon hole people that aren't on a partner track.  I've got an aquantance who worked on different aspects of the same technology for 5 years.  Can you imagine!!?! 70 hours a week, working on the same thing.  Maybe they let you do a little litigation (i.e., going threw a bunch of files and highlighting privlage) or an opinion letter here and there, but it strikes me as pretty boaring.



And then once you become partner (assuming that you stay with the firm), it seems that you would need to be there (at the firm) ALL the time....which relates back to the crazy hours.

Assuming you want to make partner at a big firm.  There are other options available.  If you can make partner you're also competent enough to get a corporate in-house position.  Doesn't pay as much, but so what, it's reasonable hours.  You might as well have time to enjoy the porshe or the time share at the hamptons.  Or if you decide you don't like working that much, you can  find a roommate, legal temp for 3 months or so, and spend the other 9 months lounging around a beach in India, partying in St. Petersburg, or backpacking around South America.  Just don't go to Japan or Western Europe (they're too expensive).

Besides, if you want to make the REAL money in patent law (or any law for that matter), you've got to generate your own clients.  You're not going to be able to do that working 80 hours a week in a big firm.  You've got to be out networking (e.g., conventions, engenering societies, science societies, country clubs, etc.).  Considering that writing and filing an application costs 10-15K, if you can do 20 or so a year from home, you've made about as much as a partner in a firm would make.  And fiiling applications is only one aspect of patent law.  Also, if you're an associate or partner and you're working for a firm, but generate your own clinents, you can take a percentage of the profit from that work.  You can also do whatever you feel like with regard to showing up in the office, since you could leave with the clients.

Title: Re: 2 paths - IP (Law) or MBA?
Post by Isaac on Apr 28th, 2006, 1:16am

on 04/27/06 at 15:48:38, guest wrote:
Yes and no. For example, compare a 1st year attorney in a small firm making 100k, but only working 40 hours a week, with an attorney at a big firm making 120-130K, but working 70-80 hours. That's a difference of 30-40 hours a week for 20-30K pre-tax. Now consider taxes, you have to pay 50% or so tax on that 20-30K, so it's relly 10-15K. Is that worth an extra 30-40 hours per week?


I think this math is a bit questionable.   Someone working 80 hours a week at a big firm is likely earning a fairly sizable bonus.
Quote:
 

I've got an aquantance who worked on different aspects of the same technology for 5 years. Can you imagine!!?! 70 hours a week, working on the same thing. Maybe they let you do a little litigation (i.e., going threw a bunch of files and highlighting privlage) or an opinion letter here and there, but it strikes me as pretty boaring.


That can happen.   It can also happen that in a small firm you are undercompensated for working just as hard as do large firm attorneys.

Title: Re: 2 paths - IP (Law) or MBA?
Post by Brian Matlock on Apr 28th, 2006, 11:56am
I will add my thoughts to this thread.  I have the dreaded trifecta you mentioned, a JD, MBA and an Engineering background(BS Chemical Engineering).  I also am a Registered Patent Agent.  I worked during days as a patent agent while I attended law school in the evening making a mid-career transition to law.  Although I am still awaiting bar results from having taken the bar exam, I am working at a small firm assisting senior partners with litigation matters.  Lot's of discovery, drafting of motions and briefs.  

Upon admission into the bar of my jurisdiction, I would like to focus on what my strengths will be to new clients.  Simply put, the breadth of my experience will be a strength to many clients, probably mostly small to medium size, technology oriented clients.  I think a broad background probably fits best in small to medium size law firms as a result.  

As to whether YOU should choose such a route, I only offer this one piece of advice.  Do what you love!  Your background might be well received at a large firm as well as a small one, especially as a litigator.   As to pay differences, I think anyone making representations about making more or less in a small firm versus a large firm is speaking in gross generalities.  Both avenues often excellent opportunities and unfortunate, frustrating circumstances as well.  Only you can be the judge of each individual situation.  

Ask yourself this one key question.  Do you enjoy being the subject matter expert or the generalist?  If the latter is your choice, then don't hesitate to go the JD route.  There are plenty of places, such as IP licensing for example, where a background of both the JD AND MBA would be valuable.  On the down side, probably talking five years of school minimum to complete both degrees even working in a joint program.  

Title: Re: 2 paths - IP (Law) or MBA?
Post by Drew83 on May 10th, 2006, 9:13am
Thanks again for all your replies -- very helpful.  I've actually taken a break (month or so) from stressing over my career decisions.  

I'm taking things one at a time.  As already mentioned, I am currently in a GMAT prep course, soon to be ending.  We'll see what happens...

Questions for Brian Matlock:

In regards to the MBA did you feel that it helped you much?  Were you still in engineering after you got the MBA, or did you switch to the business side of things?

As to the answer to your question -- I would say that I would enjoy being the generalist....

Title: Re: 2 paths - IP (Law) or MBA?
Post by Dot333 on May 19th, 2006, 1:20pm
Not sure if I can describe how excited I was to read in this thread that spelled out exactly what I was feeling.  Just from reading this thread, it does seem like there are a lot of people in the same position.  

Just to share my story, I'm an EE with about 5 yrs of experience.  I am leaning towards starting law school this fall full-time, but I still haven't completely sold myself on it yet.  And obviously I'm also thinking about B-school.  Like the others in the same situation, I'm looking for the degree that'll land me a job that i'll enjoy, while not killing me with the amount of work I'll have to do.

Which brings up one of my main concerns with law.  I have a feeling law would be stimulating, but the stress which is sort of inherent in the profession due to frequent deadlines, etc., (i'm not stressed at all right now, which i value a lot) and possibly the long hours could end up really cramping anyone's personal life.  And, to be frank, considering the divorce rate is at about 50% (at least in California), these added pressures could really screw family relationships up.  

Asking personal questions to lawyers you don't know that well isn't easy to do, but finding out how happy lawyers are outside of the job and how stable their personal lives are I think are very important in anyone's decision to practice law.  Unfortunately, I'm not really sure how to get those questions answered, except for maybe on this forum.

Thanks in advance for anyone willing to share their thoughts on this! :)

Title: Re: 2 paths - IP (Law) or MBA?
Post by Markus on Jul 6th, 2006, 10:13pm
Hello all:

Add yet another engineer to the group who is struggling/has struggled with the same dilemma...maybe it's the quarter-life crisis??

I'm 25 y/o BSME from a top 10 school, currently enrolled in the evening MBA at a top 20 school with 20/55 credits done.  I have a great job at a great company and am paid well.  But I know I am not going to be happy doing this the rest of my life.

I have found the MBA very interesting but not too challenging thus far, and, as I said above, have been rethinking my career path.   I have always wanted to eventually do Law (IP or other), so I just sold my house and moved back home (yes, with Mom/Dad, in the basement) so I could start saving serious $$ for Law School (I plan to quit my job and go FT to a tier 1 school starting in Fall 2007)  LSAT last year of 172.

My plan is to continue the MBA PT over the next year so I have approx 20 credits remaining by the time I start Law School.  From there, I'll try and pick up an MBA class here and there over the next three years in an attempt to finish both degrees at the same time. (I spoke with the school and they said this is rather unusual as most law students do the joint program with the FT day MBA and never happened before, but okay to do) I think it is reasonable to take 3 credits a year (summers) and I'd have an opportunity to do several 3 week 4 credit seminars abroad that line up perfectly with J-term and early summer when Law School is on break.  I'm not planning to take any MBA classes during regular Law School sessions, at least not the first year.

My main concern is the trifecta that has been mentioned:  engineering, MBA, JD.  It looks impressive, but what else does it do for you? In what types of positions (in Law or business) do they compliment each other or set one apart?  Anyone with the trifecta or experience with someone who has one, please write.  

Im too far in to the MBA to stop, I do find it interesting and my employer is picking up the bill. (I'll only have to pay back 5-7 k when I leave)

When I do this, all degrees will be from the same school that has a great reputation.   Its not like the MBA is online and a JD from Timbuktu U.  

Thoughts??  Comments??

Thanks!



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