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   Career Change from EE to Patent Lawyer?
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   Author  Topic: Career Change from EE to Patent Lawyer?  (Read 62962 times)
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Re: Career Change from EE to Patent Lawyer?
« Reply #25 on: May 21st, 2006, 7:17pm »
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"However, in legal world, getting a job is hard and keeping that job is harder."
 
Nope.  It's not.  It's pretty easy to find a job and, as long as the attorney has some grasp of how to behave in an office, it's easy to keep the job.  That is assuming the attorney graduated from one of the top 50 or 100 law schools or so and lives in or near a big city.   If you've got the science background and have passed the patent bar, it's even easier.
 
I constantly hear the above quote.  I can't for the life of me figure out why.  Maybe unemployed attorneys complain a lot?  Maybe people going into the legal profession are pessimists?
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Re: Career Change from EE to Patent Lawyer?
« Reply #26 on: Jun 12th, 2006, 9:13pm »
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I must say, I'm rather taken aback by the comments on this forum. I'm a 23 year old electrical engineer, who graduated in December 2005 and now works for a mid-size engineering firm in the midwest, making somewhere around, say $65K. A law school, one ranked in the top 50-100 schools offered me a scholarship (first year free) to go to school from this fall. Hence, I have decided to quit my job (which would pay for a Masters and MBA but not law) and go to law school, primarily on the premise that patent lawyers make much more money than electrical engineers. Now I'm hearing that even this $120k figure is doubtful. I still haven't told people at my work yet, but I have to decide within the next 2-3 weeks. I hear a lot of people saying that they wished they could turn back time. Well, I am at that time now. Could the people that either are, or went through similar situations guide me as to what they think is the best way to go. They could e-mail me too at kansean_2001@Hotmail.com. Any insight would be appreciated. Again, I'm an EE who has the opportunity to go to law school (I'll probably go for patent law so as to not waste my engineering), and want to know if the patent lawyers here think its worth it.
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A Patent Lawyer
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Re: Career Change from EE to Patent Lawyer?
« Reply #27 on: Jun 13th, 2006, 3:22am »
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"A law school, one ranked in the top 50-100 schools offered me a scholarship (first year free) to go to school from this fall. Hence, I have decided to quit my job (which would pay for a Masters and MBA but not law) and go to law school, primarily on the premise that patent lawyers make much more money than electrical engineers."
 
How much you make will depend on how high your law school is ranked, how well you do in law school, and where you end up practicing.
 
If you end up in St. Louis or Kansas City, it looks like starting salaries are around $95K to $105K with very small raises each year.  You can check out St. Louis and Kansas City salary charts here:
 
http://www.infirmation.com/shared/insider/payscale.tcl?state=MO
 
If you end up in Chicago, you can make up to $135K, but that will require you to put in at least 2000 billable hours per year.  2000 billable hours is 40 billable hours per week for 50 weeks.  To get 40 billable hours per week, figure on at least 50 hours worked and it will probably be more like 55 hours worked.  Chicago salary charts can be found here:
 
http://www.infirmation.com/shared/insider/payscale.tcl?state=IL
 
The competition for the $135K/year jobs is intense.  At a 50-100 school, you will need to finish in at least the top 25% and may need to be in the top 10% to get one of those jobs.  To finish that high in law school, you will need to put in a lot of hours studying because law school is as much about memorization as it is about raw intelligence.
 
If possible, try to get in touch with some third-year law students with BSEEs at the school you plan to attend.  Ask them how their job search is going.  This will give you a good idea of how your job search is likely to go.
 
Another thing to keep in mind is that very few people end up making partner.  Even if you get a $135K/yr job, after four years or so, you may get tired of the hours or may be asked to leave.  At that time, you would probably be making $180K-$200K, but probably your only option would be to go in house.  Most of these jobs will pay between $130K and $150K, so you will have to take a pay cut.
 
It is very likely that you will make more as a patent attorney than you would have as an electrical engineer.  However, when you figure in the lost salary during law school and the extra hours patent attorneys have to put in, you would probably be better off sticking with your engineering job and using those extra hours to work on developing your own business or doing consulting work.
 
Good luck with your decision.  One thing you could do is to take the free first year of law school and see if you can get a summer job at a patent law firm.  If you aren't able to get a job and/or you do poorly in law school, then you can go back to engineering without having lost much in terms of time or money.  Try not to burn any bridges if you quit your job because you may want to go back and your current employer could end up as a client someday.
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RMissimer
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Re: Career Change from EE to Patent Lawyer?
« Reply #28 on: Jun 13th, 2006, 6:36am »
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I agree completely.
 
If I had a dollar for every engineering Law Student I know that has complained about the "better salary in Law" and said they "wish they knew before they started."; I could pay for law school.
 
But as of late,  I have heard more complaints about not being able to go back to EE after working in patents.  I also do contract work,  and I find that including my Law degree on the resume kills interviews.  So, I have an Engineering resume,  and an Engineering Resume (w/ JD).  So, I have personal experience to that side of the complaint.
 
As for high paying jobs, there were maybe 3-4 openings for our spring class.  Everybody else had to fend for themselves.  When that occurs the prices fall quickly.
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RS Missimer
Patents Penned, Inc.
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Isaac
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Re: Career Change from EE to Patent Lawyer?
« Reply #29 on: Jun 13th, 2006, 6:57am »
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on Jun 13th, 2006, 6:36am, RMissimer wrote:

As for high paying jobs, there were maybe 3-4 openings for our spring class.  Everybody else had to fend for themselves.  When that occurs the prices fall quickly.

 
When you refer to 3-4 openings for your class, are you counting offers made via on campus interviews?
 
 
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Isaac
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