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   Considering Career Change to Patent Attorney
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   Author  Topic: Considering Career Change to Patent Attorney  (Read 1339 times)
rrogers
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Considering Career Change to Patent Attorney
« on: Jul 13th, 2005, 4:15pm »
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I have  25 years experience in IT, with a BS in Physics and an MSEE with top grades at good schools.  I also am 1/2 completed with an MBA. I currently have my own IT consulting firm, and am doing OK.  I am growing weary of this industry, both the type of work, and the  
demanding hours. I am a 50 year old female, and have attempted to get  part time work. I would like to have more time and flexibility for other interests, but would also like to continue with challenging work indefintely. It is almost impossible to get high paying ( $60/hr) part time work in IT.  
I am considering law school- patent law being a good fit, but I am also interested in tax and elder law. I would like to do something different, and the possibility of having my own firm that I can grow at my own pace, and work at part time well into retirement attracts me.
I have been accepted at a local law school into the part time evening program, starting this Fall. Do I have realistic expectations? After spending $80,000+ of my own money and losing  up to 4 years of productivity( and I will be 55) am I setting myself up for a big disappointment?  Is this a bad investment of my time and energy?
 
Also I would appreciate suggestions as to what type of jobs might be available part time during law school to generate income and experience in law. I am still looking for part time IT work for income (and to keep my options open), but so far have not had much luck. I am very concerned about keeping a full time job in IT and going to law school at the same time.
 
I know I need to speak with a lot of people, and the schools to arrive at realistic expectations , but I discovered this forum today, and think it is a fantastic way to get some additional feedback.
 
Any thoughts?
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Tech Spec
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Re: Considering Career Change to Patent Attorney
« Reply #1 on: Jul 13th, 2005, 10:37pm »
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I've heard of people switching tracks in their 40s, but 50 is quite late... You gotta ask yourself: how many more years do I want to work before I retire?  If you can get a legal job working as a patent agent while in school, then maybe you'll get the necessary training before coming out at 55.  If you stay at your consulting job, then your legal degree by itself will not make you attractive to the employers (because of your age).  It also depends on the economy, but one thing is for sure - if a firm has to choose for a 1st year associate position between a 25-year old and a 55-year old, guess who's going to get it?
 
Of course, if you want to start your own practice right out of school, no one can stop you, but patent field requires ALOT of experience, so at 55 you'll be as green as someone straight out of law school at 25.  Maybe you can leverage you connections in the industry, I don't know.  At any rate, for me, the cost of going to school at 50 would outweigh the potential benefits, but don't let me dissuade you. Maybe there are people who made the successful swich, but I bet it was not very easy (at least in this economy).
 
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Dean
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Re: Considering Career Change to Patent Attorney
« Reply #2 on: Jul 14th, 2005, 8:57am »
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I advise strongly against your plan.
 
I tried that strategy and it turned out to be a very expensive mistake. At 49 I went to law school (nationally recognized for IP). Though I graduated with honors, 15 credits beyond graduation requirements, 7 CALI awards, and passed both state BAR and USPTO exam on first effort, I was 53 at graduation. I have been unable to find any legal job after nearly 3 years of searching and now work at the worst job that I have ever had earning less than half of the salary that I was making 10-15 years ago.
 
Background:
 
BSEET, MBA, 2 CIS degrees, 20+ years engineering experience including design of both hardware and software.
 
The law school experience was very expensive in terms of both money and time and has resulted in no viable job prospects though it has served to, in effect, disqualify me for some technical jobs that I might have been able to secure prior to to earning the JD.
 
Think long and hard.
 
Dean
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rrogers
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Re: Considering Career Change to Patent Attorney
« Reply #3 on: Jul 18th, 2005, 9:12am »
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Thank you so much for your replies and recommendations. It doesn't sound very positive, and I definitely need to consider your feedback before I start down this path. Fortunately its not an irreversible decision, and I am also exploring other areas of
practice besides patent law. Thanks again for your honet realism.
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