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(Message started by: Depressed_EE on Sep 28th, 2006, 4:39pm)

Title: Age Descrimination
Post by Depressed_EE on Sep 28th, 2006, 4:39pm
Is the issue of age descrimination in law firms (Big, Medium, Small) as bad as it is in Commercial EE ?

I mean, is it the case that regardless of ages, a lawyer with more experience will always be valued more than a lawyer with less experience ?


Title: Re: Age Descrimination
Post by Depressed_EE on Sep 28th, 2006, 4:42pm
I mean valued more by Firms/the employers and the Clients.

Title: Re: Age Descrimination
Post by joepassbar on Sep 28th, 2006, 9:49pm

on 09/28/06 at 16:39:47, Depressed_EE wrote:
Is the issue of age descrimination in law firms (Big, Medium, Small) as bad as it is in Commercial EE ?

I mean, is it the case that regardless of ages, a lawyer with more experience will always be valued more than a lawyer with less experience ?

Where'd you get that notion???? If anything, age is considered to be an advantage when going into law. I would suspect more clients are apt to chose a mature, experienced, and seasoned vet like yourself. You have interpersonal skills that I think the younger kin would have trouble following.

I think you're probably looking at it from a conventional engineer side of the house. It's different in law. FWIW

Title: Re: Age Descrimination
Post by Depressed_EE on Sep 28th, 2006, 10:38pm
I definitely hope you're right.

with doctors, i can clearly see why a doctor with more clinical experience is always better than one with less exprience, regardless the respective ages.

but with lawyers, I don't know...

I mean we all know that it takes forever for laws to change. So I figured that a lawyer with 10+ years of experience, will be just as technically competent as another lawyer with 20+ year of experience but is much older. I mean the younger lawyer who's just as technically competent, has the YOUTH and AFFORDABILITY advantages which I think have always meant ALOT to most commercial employers , over the much older lawyer. Am I wrong ?

Title: Re: Age Descrimination
Post by Isaac on Sep 29th, 2006, 6:49am

on 09/28/06 at 21:49:17, joepassbar wrote:
Where'd you get that notion???? If anything, age is considered to be an advantage when going into law.


I don't think this is correct.  At least it does not appear to be reflect in the way firms hire.

I'll agree that there seems to be less age discrimination than you find in engineering, but age is still an issue.


Title: Re: Age Descrimination
Post by smgsmc on Sep 29th, 2006, 7:24am
I don't quite get this discussion.  If we exclude some fields such as professional sports, in which a superstar rookie may outshine a seasoned player, years of experience will be critical in any line of work.  In science, engineering, teaching...you gain expertise by building technical knowledge on top of what you previously knew.  You learn a lot by making mistakes.  Who wants to be the guinea pig for a new surgeon?  This assumes that you continue to grow and not become deadwood.  If I were an inventor, I'd rather hire a 35 yr old with 5 yr experience than a 50+ yr old with 1 yr experience.  This has nothing to do with age discrimination.  This is the unfortunate situation with corporations these days.  Previously, in a stable career environment, experience would increase with age.  But if you're 50+ and reinvent yourself because your entire industry is in a state of exponential decay, you now have 0 yr experience to offer.   I know there are some skills which are transferrable...maturity in dealing with people, team work...but these will not override lack of experience.  There is one guy on this board who reinvented himself as a successful lawyer at 50+, but I think he's an exception (although I don't have any stats to back that up).  I'm wrestling with this situation myself.

Title: Re: Age Descrimination
Post by LF on Sep 29th, 2006, 7:54am
I agree with the posting about four up. In law, grey hair is seen as experience. In technology, grey hair is seen as obsolescence. That is just the way it is.

If you do not believe it, and are under 40, print this, save my e-mail, and send me the "you told me so" e-mail in 10 years.

Title: Re: Age Descrimination
Post by Isaac on Sep 29th, 2006, 8:40am

on 09/29/06 at 07:24:55, smgsmc wrote:
If I were an inventor, I'd rather hire a 35 yr old with 5 yr experience than a 50+ yr old with 1 yr experience.


In an employment situation, a 50 year old with zero years experience is competing for an entry level position against 25 year olds with zero years of experience.    Obviously, hiring a more experienced person cannot be considered discrimination, but refusal to consider the 50 year old because of his age would be.

Further, a 50 year old former engineer or scientist who becomes a patent practitioner is not completely reinventing himself.  They do bring domain knowledge and experience to the table.




Title: Re: Age Descrimination
Post by Wiscagent on Sep 29th, 2006, 9:50am
I donít know if I am typical of ďolderĒ individuals getting into the patent field, but Iíll share my experience for whatever itís worth.  I have a B.S. in chemistry.  I worked in various product development and research roles for more than twenty five years, accruing a number of patents (as an inventor).

At that time I took a lateral move to a patent facilitator role (i.e. patent liaison, patent engineer).  I enjoyed the work and I also recognized that having stronger patent-related skills would be advantageous for my career.  I studied, took and passed the patent bar exam.  I continued in my role as a patent facilitator and also did limited preparation and prosecution of patent applications.

A few months ago I was informed that my services were no longer needed.  So at age 54 I started looking for a new job.  It was quickly apparent to me that I had a better chance of getting a job as a patent agent rather than going back into the lab.  To Isaacís point, I didnít reinvent myself Ė I leveraged my experience.  Iím glad to report that I will start my new job as a patent searcher / patent agent next week.

Iím sure that my age counted against me to some extent, also I have limited experience doing regular patent agent work; but that was balanced with having more than 31 years of experience as a scientist, having been granted 22 US patents, and having a practical understanding of business aspects of intellectual property.

Potential employers may consider new graduates (lawyer, PhD, BS, etc.) who are otherwise inexperienced as being interchangeable.  But a few decades after graduation, the more experienced job applicant needs to have some distinctive characteristics to make them stand out from the crowd.

Title: Re: Age Descrimination
Post by Isaac on Sep 29th, 2006, 9:58am

on 09/29/06 at 09:50:18, Wiscagent wrote:
†Iím glad to report that I will start my new job as a patent searcher / patent agent next week.


Congratulations on the new job!  Are you still a Wiscagent in fact as well as in name?

Title: Re: Age Descrimination
Post by passedit on Sep 29th, 2006, 11:09am

on 09/28/06 at 16:39:47, Depressed_EE wrote:
Is the issue of age descrimination in law firms (Big, Medium, Small) as bad as it is in Commercial EE ?

I mean, is it the case that regardless of ages, a lawyer with more experience will always be valued more than a lawyer with less experience ?


One more thing: I don't know the source of your woes but you really should get off the depression kick. Unless you've shown an actually "they told me I was too old" story, then you can't use your potential experience as a patent agent to reflect your prior "life" as an engineer.

In general, I found that aerospace wasn't where it's at and they "flog" their engineers until they reach 45-50 and then put them out to pasture in favor of some 30 soemthing Masters candidate who will work at the same or lesser amount of money. It's an eye opening experience to hear about that stuff. I'm now in my mid 40's and have accepted that type of stuff as reality and have chosen to lateral over to a law/patent career.

At least my chances are better in this field to get a job than as an engineer. Good luck!

Title: Re: Age Descrimination
Post by smgsmc on Sep 29th, 2006, 12:24pm

on 09/29/06 at 09:50:18, Wiscagent wrote:
I donít know if I am typical of ďolderĒ individuals getting into the patent field, but Iíll share my experience for whatever itís worth. †I have a B.S. in chemistry. †I worked in various product development and research roles for more than twenty five years, accruing a number of patents (as an inventor).

At that time I took a lateral move to a patent facilitator role (i.e. patent liaison, patent engineer). †I enjoyed the work and I also recognized that having stronger patent-related skills would be advantageous for my career. †I studied, took and passed the patent bar exam. †I continued in my role as a patent facilitator and also did limited preparation and prosecution of patent applications.

A few months ago I was informed that my services were no longer needed. †So at age 54 I started looking for a new job. †It was quickly apparent to me that I had a better chance of getting a job as a patent agent rather than going back into the lab. †To Isaacís point, I didnít reinvent myself Ė I leveraged my experience. †Iím glad to report that I will start my new job as a patent searcher / patent agent next week.

Iím sure that my age counted against me to some extent, also I have limited experience doing regular patent agent work; but that was balanced with having more than 31 years of experience as a scientist, having been granted 22 US patents, and having a practical understanding of business aspects of intellectual property.

Potential employers may consider new graduates (lawyer, PhD, BS, etc.) who are otherwise inexperienced as being interchangeable. †But a few decades after graduation, the more experienced job applicant needs to have some distinctive characteristics to make them stand out from the crowd.



Actually, your example proves my point.  You didn't step out of the engineering world cold into the patent agent world.  You were already working as a "patent facilitator,"  that is you did have IP/patent experience, even if not specifically as a patent agent.  I've talked to a number of people who made the transition from experienced (older) engineer to patent agent.  In each instance, they went through an intermediate phase such as yours...that is, they worked in some form of IP, tech marketing, whatever, first.  My original plan was to transfer from engineering to IP (not necessarily as a patent agent, but as a tech writer/tech specialist/tech market support. ) Unlike you, however, I was declared redundant before I made the move.  Additionally, that whole IP group got declared redundant shortly thereafter.   I haven't seen anyone on this board yet (I may have missed it), who has written, "I'm 54.  Got my PhD in Physics.  Worked for 23 yrs in telcom.  Lasted through 10+ rounds of layoffs.  Planned to break the cycle of layoffs by transitioning to IP.  Corporate law programs demolished years ago.  Layoffs caught up with me before I could make the move.  No brother-in-law who's a patent attorney.  No girlfriend who's a CEO of a hi-tech startup requiring in-house engineer to work with outside patent attorney firm.  Landed a great job after I passed patent exam."

Title: Re: Age Descrimination
Post by Depressed_EE on Sep 29th, 2006, 8:39pm
I'm 28 doing my EE masters, will be done Just short of 29 which is more than 5 years older than most EE masters. So I think I got excuses to be depressed.

My question can really be summed as...

At what age range, does a Lawyer with 20+ yrs of experience become a prime candidate as a layoff fodder, in favor of a 25ish new law grad (no experience, BUT high GPA and|or Name School), or another lesser experienced lawyer BUT still in his prime ?

Isaac or anyone else knowledgable in this subject, please be brutally honest.

Title: Re: Age Descrimination
Post by Agent_X on Sep 30th, 2006, 12:31am
Let me preface this by saying I am a 27 year old 2nd year law student.

IMO 25 year old new law grads are pretty useless in firms

I'm under the impression that it takes a few years of on the job experience for a lawyer to become profitable for the firm that trains him.

In patent prosecution specifically the learning curve is approximately 2 years.

I am also finding that firms are more receptive to students who have some experience working and demonstrate maturity.  My peers who came straight from undergrad are having completely different interviewing experiences than I am.

Title: Re: Age Descrimination
Post by smgsmc on Sep 30th, 2006, 7:02am
While it is important to plan for the future, I believe that it's premature for an engineer in his late 20's/early 30ís to be preoccupied with age discrimination.  (a) Even if you get laid off after 10 yrs, youíll be 40 and still have plenty of time to change careers.  If youíre 54, however, there are fewer options (I know, I know... there are people on this board who have done it). (b) People starting out on engineering careers can learn from the experiences of my generation who advanced in their careers almost solely on their technical skills and then got caught up in massive industry meltdowns (I know, I know...general work experience, teamwork, dealing with bosses from hell can count a lot).  I serve as a mentor in a program for undergrads and grads in science and engineering.  I advise them to take business, language, and writing courses in addition to technical courses.  Gives them an edge, more flexibility, more options in the future.  No one ever gave me that advice. (c) One major financial incentive (besides lower pay for new kids on the block) for corporations to ditch older employees is rapidly disappearing:  defined pension plans.   I wonít go into details here.  But corporations can sneak around age-discrimination suits and ditch older employees who are on the verge of accruing significant (whatever that means these days) pension benefits (costs  $$$ for the corporation).  That wonít be an issue for an engineer now in his late 20ís/early 30ís.

Title: Re: Age Descrimination
Post by fly2thesun on Sep 30th, 2006, 7:16pm
Dear smgsmc,
it's so relieving to hear that even 10 years from now won't be too late. I'm in early 30's, soon getting a EE PhD, and am realizing an engineering career is quite vulnurable.. Actually, it's not just me.. Many of my classmates know that and talk about that. But most say 'hey, it's too late now'.. But I don't want to agree. I'm looking around intently, but it doesn't look easy. Well, I think my situation is rather atypical, not being a US citizen nor a native speaker of English. I'm not sure, there might be a niche market for an Asian guy who can 'repair' poorly translated Asian patents? (I can read/write 3 East Asian languages.. one as mother tongue, the others as my favorite pastime) I could go back to my home country, but that option has its own problems.  Well, not easy, but I still think I'm young enough to look for a new path..

I couldn't agree more about the lack of career advice for undergrad science/engineering students. It almost feels as if somebody wants us to remain replaceable &  consumable.

Title: Re: Age Descrimination
Post by biopico on Oct 2nd, 2006, 1:37pm
Real life begins at the age of 60.  

Title: Re: Age Descrimination
Post by LF on Oct 2nd, 2006, 2:34pm
Dear Fky2...

Not sure anyone is conspiring. The problem for so many getting a PhD, is that their role model is some professor somewhere. As a rule, Academicians do not know about the real world (their world has job security, pensions, etc.), none of the things we deal with in the real world. ;D

Never too late to make a change, as long as you are willing to make the sacrifices in benefits and prestige. You might even end up working for someone you TA'd for that you thought was not that smart. But I have news for you, most A students (typical PhD) end up working for C students anyway (those guys who barely graduated, but that most of the time have those intangibles the real world is so interested in). 8)



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