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(Message started by: lawyertopatent on Jun 7th, 2007, 7:57pm)

Title: Going from JD to Engineering to Patent
Post by lawyertopatent on Jun 7th, 2007, 7:57pm
Hello all,

I am new to this forum and it has been very informative. I went to a top Ivy League undergraduate institution and had a typical prelaw triple major in Econ and Political Science type stuff, took 3 years off working for various large "brand name" law firms in their prelaw assistance programs, and then went to a respectable Tier 2 lawschool and obtained average grades. I have just graduated and am now considering taking a BS in EE in my area and then immediately taking the patent bar. This is obviously the reverse of the way it is usually done (first engineering school then law school). Does anyone on here have any idea how the average patent law firm would look at this situation? I will basically end up with three degrees, Ivy League BA, Engineering BS, and a JD. The engineering degree will not be from your "top" USNews engineering program. Would this make a difference? I presume ranking matters less for engineering programs than for law programs.

Thank you!

Title: Re: Going from JD to Engineering to Patent
Post by dsnutter on Jun 8th, 2007, 4:21pm
First, I would find out if you can even get a BS. Most programs that I have heard of will not allow you to get another bachelors degree, you may be required to do a masters.
Were you not able to find a job out of law school? It seems like that would be the only reason to take this route.

Title: Re: Going from JD to Engineering to Patent
Post by lawyertopatent on Jun 9th, 2007, 6:50am
Unless I am miscalculating something- it makes perfect financial sense to keep getting educated. A patent lawyer makes 1.5-2x more over the first 10 years than a regular lawyer. This seems to more than outweigh the additional loans needed to be spent on a low price BS engineering degree from a state school, which takes about 2 years if it's your second bachelors. Am I missing something with this calculation?

That wasn't really my main concern. My main concern was how firms look at getting your engineering degree after your law degree.


Title: Re: Going from JD to Engineering to Patent
Post by aa on Jun 9th, 2007, 7:16am

on 06/08/07 at 16:21:50, dsnutter wrote:
First, I would find out if you can even get a BS. Most programs that I have heard of will not allow you to get another bachelors degree, you may be required to do a masters.


This makes no sense, of course you can get another bachelors. I know people who have gone that route.

Title: Re: Going from JD to Engineering to Patent
Post by aa on Jun 9th, 2007, 7:32am

on 06/09/07 at 06:50:49, lawyertopatent wrote:
Unless I am miscalculating something- it makes perfect financial sense to keep getting educated. A patent lawyer makes 1.5-2x more over the first 10 years than a regular lawyer. This seems to more than outweigh the additional loans needed to be spent on a low price BS engineering degree from a state school, which takes about 2 years if it's your second bachelors. Am I missing something with this calculation?


Have you taken any engineering track math or science? These classes have a chain of prereqs which may mean more than 2 years to complete the bachelors. For example, you need calculus to take physics, and they are both 1 years tracks. Then you have to consider the EE courses which have even longer chains, and maybe certain courses are only offered certain semesters (spring or fall). That was how it worked at my school, albiet a small school.

The problem is that a BA and BS degree have such different requirements that your assumption that a large amount of coursework from your BA will help you fill the requirements of a BS, but this is probably not true. I'm thinking more like 3 years, but you would really have to look at a particular schools requirements.

Just something to think about and plan for. At a certain point the opportunity cost is not worth it.


Title: Re: Going from JD to Engineering to Patent
Post by lawyertopatent on Jun 9th, 2007, 7:55am

on 06/09/07 at 07:32:32, aa wrote:
The problem is that a BA and BS degree have such different requirements that your assumption that a large amount of coursework from your BA will help you fill the requirements of a BS, but this is probably not true. I'm thinking more like 3 years, but you would really have to look at a particular schools requirements.

Just something to think about and plan for. At a certain point the opportunity cost is not worth it.


AA,

Yeah you could be right, but here's what I'm thinking.  I've already taken Calculus 1 and 2 (albeit quite some time ago).  If I brush up on that on my own those can count.  Plus, I can take classes in the summer and get it done faster.  That was my plan, we'll see how it works out, I need to speak to the Fin Aid and Eng. Departments.

Title: Re: Going from JD to Engineering to Patent
Post by guest23423 on Jun 9th, 2007, 9:14am
I went back and got a BSEE after law school.  However, i already had a BS in an unrelated engineering discipline.  It took me a little over 2 years and i had all the required math, physics, etc. courses.  If you have all the gen ed requirements already, this means all of your courses will be physics, EE, math, or CSC courses.  Good luck taking more than 4 or possibly 5 a semester.  This degree in my opinion was much harder than law school or my other engineering degree.  It is a different world compared to law school or your undergraduate experience in poly sci or whatever.  I don't think non-eng majors quite understand what is involved, but I guarantee you will not finish a BSEE in less than 3 years and that's full-time.  I don't mean to discourage you, but I don't think you have a realistic view.  There are probably better options for you to pursue.  However, don't try to pursue a MSEE with a non-eng major.  People in the field know that an MSEE with a non-eng BS only understands a small area of EE and most likely doesn't have a sufficiently broad EE base knowledge.

Title: Re: Going from JD to Engineering to Patent
Post by plex on Jun 9th, 2007, 9:49am
Most importantly, a MSEE doesn't qualify you for the patent bar.

As others have said, it is perfectly possible to take a second degree later.

Also as others have said, you won't be able to transfer a lot of credits, and normally an EE degree takes 4.5-5 years going full time, it has a lot more credit requirements than a BA. If you have Calc I/II done (and they accept both calc I and II and don't just start you in calc II as I expect they would), you will be able to also transfer over whatever liberal arts credits they allow and that would be it. At my school, that would have been seven classes at most, which is about 3/4 of a year of classes. I am sure there are engineering courses, perhaps at schools with a broader selection of programs, which will allow you to transfer enough so you get a whole year. That still leaves you with 3.5-4 years of full time classes, and the most difficult of the classes as well.

As you mentioned, you can go summers as well, I would imagine this would drop it down to 3 years if you found just the right school that lets you transfer lots of credits, has a significant summer program, you manage to get exactly the classes you need each term and don't fail a single one, until perhaps near the end when you will be taking the engineering electives. Failing a class may seem like a foreign idea, but engineering classes, of which, EE is the most difficult, tend to cover very difficult material and many professors use bell curves. The attrition rate at engineering schools is much higher than other types of schools, mine was probably unusually high, but it should give you an idea, it was 40%. So be prepared for it, it will be much more difficult than anything you have done before.

Title: Re: Going from JD to Engineering to Patent
Post by aa on Jun 9th, 2007, 11:07am

on 06/09/07 at 07:55:15, lawyertopatent wrote:
AA,

Yeah you could be right, but here's what I'm thinking. I've already taken Calculus 1 and 2 (albeit quite some time ago). If I brush up on that on my own those can count. Plus, I can take classes in the summer and get it done faster. That was my plan, we'll see how it works out, I need to speak to the Fin Aid and Eng. Departments.


Another option is to qualify for the patent bar under Catagory B, where you just take 24 credits of physics and can sit for the bar since you technically have a "bachelors degree in another subject". Since you have calculus you could easily finish in a year. I'm not sure firms would like that very much, but you would be able to prosecute patents before the Office. Its just a thought.

I'm interested in your situation because my wife is starting law school at a top-25 school but has a political science degree. She wishes now that she had a technical degree. I'll probably be following next year, but not at a top-school unless i ace the LSAT. Doubtful.





Title: Re: Going from JD to Engineering to Patent
Post by daven on Jun 9th, 2007, 12:04pm

on 06/09/07 at 11:07:08, aa wrote:
Another option is to qualify for the patent bar under Catagory B, where you just take 24 credits of physics and can sit for the bar since you technically have a "bachelors degree in another subject". Since you have calculus you could easily finish in a year. I'm not sure firms would like that very much, but you would be able to prosecute patents before the Office. Its just a thought.


That's definitely the fastest route to the patent exam.

Title: Re: Going from JD to Engineering to Patent
Post by guest47 on Jun 9th, 2007, 12:55pm
I believe the fastest route to the patent bar exam is to live in a state that allows taking of the FE test without achieving a BS in engineering.

Title: Re: Going from JD to Engineering to Patent
Post by biopico on Jun 9th, 2007, 8:42pm
If you are strongly interested in litigation (e.g., patent infringement), you don't REALLY have to be a patent lawyer.

Title: Re: Going from JD to Engineering to Patent
Post by lawyertopatent on Jun 9th, 2007, 11:31pm

on 06/09/07 at 11:07:08, aa wrote:
Another option is to qualify for the patent bar under Catagory B, where you just take 24 credits of physics and can sit for the bar since you technically have a "bachelors degree in another subject". Since you have calculus you could easily finish in a year. I'm not sure firms would like that very much, but you would be able to prosecute patents before the Office. Its just a thought.

I'm interested in your situation because my wife is starting law school at a top-25 school but has a political science degree. She wishes now that she had a technical degree. I'll probably be following next year, but not at a top-school unless i ace the LSAT. Doubtful.


Well if you pursue law my main advice to you is don't expect easy riches over and above your technical degree any time soon. With the massive debt load that I have and the typical starting salary of a lawyer, I won't be making any serious savings until late 30s at best. In the end it is worth it. You will basically give up your entire young adult life to make it big later. If you have children or a family I do not recommend you take the time to go to a low Tier 1 or Tier 2 law school unless you can pay for it out of pocket and are willing to live like a monk for a number of years.

Also, be sure you really like law, otherwise you WILL be miserable.

The positive side- for those people who like a constant challenge, the pressure, the "eye of the tiger" and the push to get somewhere better in the future, this is definitely the ultimate profession.  Litigation is exciting and you will end up making alot of money.

One thing I don't understand is what all this fuss is about bigfirm this and bigfirm that among law students.  Of the 10% that make it there, 70% will get booted and never make partner.  But eventually almost every lawyer strikes big dollars and will reap the rewards of the profession, unless they stay in public interest their entire life which is unlikely.

Title: Re: Going from JD to Engineering to Patent
Post by lawyertopatent on Jun 9th, 2007, 11:33pm

on 06/09/07 at 20:42:20, biopico wrote:
If you are strongly interested in litigation (e.g., patent infringement), you don't REALLY have to be a patent lawyer.


Biopico, that is true, but isn't it a highly competitive field to get into these days?

Title: Re: Going from JD to Engineering to Patent
Post by guest1040 on Jun 10th, 2007, 12:09am

on 06/09/07 at 23:31:36, lawyertopatent wrote:
Well if you pursue law my main advice to you is don't expect easy riches over and above your technical degree any time soon. With the massive debt load that I have and the typical starting salary of a lawyer, I won't be making any serious savings until late 30s at best. In the end it is worth it. You will basically give up your entire young adult life to make it big later. If you have children or a family I do not recommend you take the time to go to a low Tier 1 or Tier 2 law school unless you can pay for it out of pocket and are willing to live like a monk for a number of years.

Also, be sure you really like law, otherwise you WILL be miserable.

The positive side- for those people who like a constant challenge, the pressure, the "eye of the tiger" and the push to get somewhere better in the future, this is definitely the ultimate profession. Litigation is exciting and you will end up making alot of money.

One thing I don't understand is what all this fuss is about bigfirm this and bigfirm that among law students. Of the 10% that make it there, 70% will get booted and never make partner. But eventually almost every lawyer strikes big dollars and will reap the rewards of the profession, unless they stay in public interest their entire life which is unlikely.



This is a lot of interesting stuff you've said.  Is practicing law a lot like law school?  Because I enjoy understanding and applying the law, but I can't stand law school.
 

Title: Re: Going from JD to Engineering to Patent
Post by plex on Jun 10th, 2007, 12:31am
School and work are two very different things, in any field, even with a hands on degree like engineering, they are pretty different. You won't know for sure whether you enjoy practicing law until you actually start doing it.

Title: Re: Going from JD to Engineering to Patent
Post by lawyertopatent on Jun 10th, 2007, 12:46pm

on 06/10/07 at 00:09:12, guest1040 wrote:
This is a lot of interesting stuff you've said. Is practicing law a lot like law school? Because I enjoy understanding and applying the law, but I can't stand law school.


Since I'm not licensed yet (taking the bar in July) I really can't say. But from what I've seen with the partners I've worked with as a clerk, it's completely different from law school.

Title: Re: Going from JD to Engineering to Patent
Post by squaredeux on Jun 12th, 2007, 6:17pm
i'm in a very similiar situation and we are probably around the same age but am pursuing a different course of action than you are. here is what i've done and will be doing.

went to a top public school, majored in polisci and history but was very math and science oriented throughout my life. i finished calc II when i was 16 and got burned out and didn't want to pursue math/science anymore, hence polisci/history and law school.

i did well in college, bombed the LSAT because i took that when i was 19 (not mentally ready) but still went to a high tier II straight out of college.

graduated law school, took the bar and i've been working for over 2 years now doing litigation. i hated law school but being a lawyer is not that bad. i don't hate it, but i find the kind of work i'm doing unmotivating and i've always wanted to do IP (am just more interested in it than anything else and wanted to do from the beginning of law school but did not have a technical degree.)

i always figured i would go back to school and get a technical degree in CS and weighed my options to pursue either a 2nd bachelor's at a UC (i live in CA) or get a master's at a cal state.

practically speaking, getting a master's makes a ton more sense than getting a 2nd bachelors. why? because a master's in computer science (or ee) are usually geared towards people or way more accommodating to people who have no background in that field. so its usually less prerequisites and the prereq's are usually more relaxed. also a lot of schools don't allow you to get a 2nd bachelor's for whatever reason. almost all of the UC's dont allow it in fact.

with that said, i still have about a year's worth of full-time classes (fall, spring & summer - 4 to 5 classes each semseter) to complete all my prerequisites. by the way, i HIGHLY recommend you retake calculus I and II again as it is something you need to have down cold if you want to have a decent chance getting a degree in EE.  

for me, it works out because i am going to be taking most of my prereqs at a community college, along with 2 physics classes and by the time all my prereqs are done (with my physics + lab classes at community college) i'll be able to do my masters AND qualify for the USPTO exam under category B.

in the end, i'll save a ton of money (320 bucks per semester at community college), qualify for the USPTO exam and have a master's in 2 years flat.

Title: Re: Going from JD to Engineering to Patent
Post by SoCalAttny on Jun 13th, 2007, 10:38pm
Most law firms rate law school academics first then engineering school. They do not like to pollute the firm's attorney resume book.

Get the engineering degree and you will do fine.

Title: Re: Going from JD to Engineering to Patent
Post by jjGirl on Jun 14th, 2007, 4:25pm
aa - that's an excellent idea.

You have no idea what you are getting yourself into with EE - Calc 1 isn't even close to the amount of math and theory that goes into it. Besides that, as others have mentioned, it's going to take you ALOT of time to graduate. EE isn't a subject that you can just push yourself through - you have to really like it.

On another note, I have had several people in my classes that were lawyers that were going back to school just to do patent law. So, it is doable. I don't think a law firm would really care about your previous schooling. To be honest, patent lawyers are in such high demand they'll take anyone with a background.

Keep in mind that most all engineering schools are small so all the 1st, 2nd year and alot of the third year courses are during the days. You can't really work fulltime and go to school.... unless you have a very flexible job.

Good Luck!

Title: Re: Going from JD to Engineering to Patent
Post by Guest1040 on Jun 14th, 2007, 9:37pm

on 06/14/07 at 16:25:30, jjGirl wrote:
aa - that's an excellent idea.

You have no idea what you are getting yourself into with EE - Calc 1 isn't even close to the amount of math and theory that goes into it. Besides that, as others have mentioned, it's going to take you ALOT of time to graduate. EE isn't a subject that you can just push yourself through - you have to really like it.

On another note, I have had several people in my classes that were lawyers that were going back to school just to do patent law. So, it is doable. I don't think a law firm would really care about your previous schooling. To be honest, patent lawyers are in such high demand they'll take anyone with a background.

Keep in mind that most all engineering schools are small so all the 1st, 2nd year and alot of the third year courses are during the days. You can't really work fulltime and go to school.... unless you have a very flexible job.

Good Luck!


"To be honest, patent lawyers are in such high demand they'll take anyone with a background"......<- is this true?  I don't think it's in this much of a demand.  You still need to show you're a competent engineer to do patent prosecution, correct?  Just having an EE degree from "Harvey Mudd College of Engineering" is not necessarily enough, is it?



Title: Re: Going from JD to Engineering to Patent
Post by jjGirl on Jun 15th, 2007, 1:10pm
Well, of course you have to be competent. But, I don't think it matters much where you received your engineering degree (except if it's from Strayer or something like that). I went to a school that doesn't have a reputation of being an "engineering school." I didn't have any trouble finding a job.

And, where I'm located (DC) patent attorneys/agents are in demand. Just think, how many engineers did you graduate with that are going to law school or taking the patent bar? We're a rarity! A law firm will snatch you up in a heart beat!



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