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   Uh oh.. am I in trouble?
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P. Nagel
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Uh oh.. am I in trouble?
« on: Apr 17th, 2004, 2:16am »
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I apologize if this question has been asked before;  
I did a cursory search of the forums and didn't  
immediately see an answer. Here's my conundrum...
 
I'm heading to UConn law this upcoming fall  
(almost) straight out of undergrad with a B.S. in  
Computer Engineering.  
 
I got my PTO registration # a few months ago, but
have no appreciable industry experience.  
 
Even if I do well in law school, will I be roundfiled  
by most IP firms due to inexperience? After having  
spoken with a few people who seemed to be in the  
know, I'm terrified that the months I spent pouring over  
patent code will come to nothing. I would appreciate  
any wise words before I commit my dog-eared MPEP  
to the rubbish bin.
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Isaac
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Posts: 3472
Re: Uh oh.. am I in trouble?
« Reply #1 on: Apr 17th, 2004, 9:02am »
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Who knows.  Certainly having experience is better than not having experience, but if you really want to be a patent attorney, you are going about it the right way.  Do well in law school and look for some opportunities to do some patent work.  Maybe you'll be able to intern somewhere during the summer.
 
What alternatives are you considering?
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Isaac
P. Nagel
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Re: Uh oh.. am I in trouble?
« Reply #2 on: Apr 17th, 2004, 4:29pm »
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Alternatives?
 
As in other schools, other branches of law, or other professions?
 
At the moment I'm waitlisted at a few more highly ranked schools, although I wouldn't be terribly upset to end up in Hartford. All the schools I'm looking at have semester or yearlong study abroad programs which interest me greatly. I can't say how valuable they are, but I suspect they might provide the background to start me off in international law should my house of patent cards collapse.  
 
Staying in a technical field at my present location isn't a sustainable option. The market is tight and the local engineering university mechanically belches out a large batch of new employment seeking grads at unnervingly frequent intervals.  When I hit the classifieds for the first time this past June, I naively hoped to find some sweet job at a small fab or chip prototyping outfit, but instead I've found myself living hand-to-mouth from the proceeds of dead-end freelance software development. unfun.
 
Law school it is then. As far as 1L summer internships go… If I can’t find a patent-related position, would you suggest taking a general clerical-type clerkship at a non-IP firm, or trying to flesh out my background doing something engineering-related?
 
Thanks the input.  
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Isaac
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Posts: 3472
Re: Uh oh.. am I in trouble?
« Reply #3 on: Apr 17th, 2004, 11:08pm »
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By other alternatives I meant assuming you want to go to law school and given that you currently have no patent experience, are you considering some alternative that will have you going to law school but giving you some patent experience?   I occasionally run across adds from law firms targetting patent agents who wish to go to law school.   I don't think those opportunities are all that common these days.
 
First, you should take my advice with a grain of salt.  
 
I didn't follow the advice I'm giving you because my situation was completely different.  (Attended evening program whilel working, went to school summers so no summer job, lots of engineering experience before law school)
 
I'd suggest going to the best law school you can, getting good grades, and getting that patent bar credential under your belt.   If you are dead set on being a patent attorney, I don't think it matters what kind of summer job you get if a patent related isn't available, but by all means do something.
 
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Isaac
JimIvey
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  jamesdivey  
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Re: Uh oh.. am I in trouble?
« Reply #4 on: Apr 19th, 2004, 8:42am »
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Is your concern that your school isn't prestigious enough?  or that real-world experience in computer engineering is required for a meaningful career in patent law?
 
I have no idea how prestigious UConn is.  I can't help there.  As has been said over and over, it's best to go to the best school you can get into.  Although it's not entirely insane to consider other factors like cost.  For example, if you get into Boalt and Stanford, go to Boalt -- it's better and cheaper.  However, in those years in which pollsters think Stanford is slightly better, I'd still go to Boalt due to cost differences.  In the interest of full disclosure, I did go to Boalt.
 
As for work experience, it's not nearly as critical in computer engineering as it is in other areas (like life sciences).  Computer engineering is still a bit of a hot topic, and I disagree with conventional wisdom in "the Valley" (Silicon Valley) that every patent attorney can do software patents.  Some software inventions are relatively easy, but don't even try to draft an application of a kernel optimization, 3-d rendering engine, or true artificial intelligence without some fairly thorough understanding of the software arts.  
 
What I'm getting at is that there's a bit of a shortage of truly capable software patent attorneys in the Valley, even if they don't know it.
 
Now, will that translate into a great job in a great firm in the Valley?  I don't know.  Assuming your bachelors degree accurately reflects your technical competence, and further assuming that you do well in law school and can write well (good writing sample), I don't see why that can't happen.
 
Good luck!
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James D. Ivey
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