Intellectual Property Forums (

(Message started by: JennyJ on Jun 9th, 2006, 8:52am)

Title: Biology PhD - now what?
Post by JennyJ on Jun 9th, 2006, 8:52am
I'm just finishing my PhD in molecular biology and neurobiology at Yale.  I've realized now (after 6 years) that I'm just not interested in becoming a professor or a scientist.  

I'm quite interested, however, in intellectual property law.  As an under-grad I was sort of involved in an intellectual property suit.  My advisor was being sued, and I was able to see the whole process.  My advisor won the suit, by the way.  Anyway, this has always been a fascination for me, and now I'm considering pursuing a career in IP law.

Do you have any advise?  I've seen firms that offer to hire PhDs as patent agents and then pay for their law school.  Is this a good idea?  Is it better to acquire my own law degree first?  What is the job market like for a patent attorney with a PhD in biology?

Title: Re: Biology PhD - now what?
Post by Isaac on Jun 9th, 2006, 9:28am

on 06/09/06 at 08:52:55, JennyJ wrote:
Do you have any advise? I've seen firms that offer to hire PhDs as patent agents and then pay for their law school. Is this a good idea? Is it better to acquire my own law degree first? What is the job market like for a patent attorney with a PhD in biology?

Given the expense of law school, it's unquestionably better to find someone to pay for law school than to pay for it yourself.   The tradeoff would be that working while going to law school can be very difficult, but lots of attorneys accomplish it.  It would take you an extra year to complete law school part time, but you'd also have 4 years of experience upon graduation.

Title: Re: Biology PhD - now what?
Post by guest on Jun 12th, 2006, 5:00am
Thanks Jenny for posting that question. I am also in a very similar position (Ph.D in biology).
As Isaac suggested, I had already started applying to law firms. But my biggest concern now is that with the outsourcing wave in today's scenario, I understand that some of the law firms have already started sending some of their work to get it done off-shore (to countries like India). Will this impact my future in a negative direction? Will my job be on stake down the line?

Please reply.

Title: Re: Biology PhD - now what?
Post by Jane Guan on Jun 16th, 2006, 11:54pm
It is a good idea.
If you donot like to be just a professor in molecular field, just do what you want. It is a good choice to be attorney of patent.
It is ok by any way you choose to complete your goal.
I am a doctor in China. I am interested in law. You know, what happend? I got the license of a lawyer.
I am interested in patent law. I will take the exam of a patent attorney this year.
Good luck, both you and me.

Title: Re: Biology PhD - now what?
Post by guest on Jun 26th, 2006, 5:17am
I think you should ask yourself why you are interested in law.   Seriously.  Be honest about it.  Include even the most trivial things.

What is it specifically that you saw that attracted you?
What specifically is it that deters you from pursuing science?

Many people who enter the law become dissatisfied with it as you surely are aware.  I believe it is largey due to selective perception when they entered law school i.e. they only saw what they want to see - an ideal image of lawyers, of the law, of the subject matter, etc.  Even worse, there's much brainwashing while in law school - you are fed all sorts of propaganda about the profession, job market, etc.  Overstressed students are susceptible and take the bait hook line and sinker.  Trust me, it's not positive stuff.

I would bet few if any of them actually sat down and wrote out what their reasons were for pursuing law, specifically.  

It took 6 yrs for you to learn you are not interested in becoming a scientist.  

It often only takes people about 3-5 yrs to realise they are not interested in law (or at least that they cannot stand another day in their present law firm).

There are heaps of 'other factors' involved besides just the ideal images people have.   These are things you experience on the job.  And the point is people often end up asking themselves "Why did I do this?" once they are fully exposed to these 'other factors'.

You may find the things that drew you to the law are actually only a minor part of your job as a lawyer.  Better to know that before you jump in.  

You've got some golden qualifications but the other half of the equation is knowing what you can do with them.

You certainly won't be the first to combine an Ivy League PhD in MolBio with a law degree and USPTO admission.  But that doesn't mean there are not heaps of opportunities.  The creativity you learned in research can help you here.  As you know the law is not a very 'creative' field, most of us suffer from left brain dominance - you can't avoid it.  You have an advantage!

I'm embarrassed to say what my reasons were for entering the law (I'm not sure I even had any to speak of), but lucklily part way through I discovered IP and made the right in-house connections.  This was back when no one cared about IP and few students ever considered working anywhere but in a law firm.  One thing I did know however was what type of work environment (people, surroundings) I wanted.... and that one specific thing helped me so much in guiding the choices I made.  And to this day it is still one of my most important criteria.  

If you know EXACTLY what you want out of it before you jump in, you will be miles ahead of everyone else, who just have a vague idea and lots of idealised images.

The law is a solid career of course (it always has been).  It is also a fantastic angle to get into many areas of the 'business' of science and other areas but you need to see and pick those angles yourself.  Many people never see them.

First step methinks is making that list I referred to above.  

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