Intellectual Property Forums (

(Message started by: ACD on Jul 5th, 2005, 3:58pm)

Title: What is the best route at a career in patent lit
Post by ACD on Jul 5th, 2005, 3:58pm
I am a senior Electrical and Computer Engineer who would be graduating with a BS in May 2006.  Ever since my sophomore year I have been looking into careers in intellectual property (preferably patent litigation).  Ever since the summer of 2003 (and every consecutive summer including this one) I have been working as an intern in a well-known computer company (one of the fortune 20 companies on the Forbes list <not giving out its name since this hint may be easy to grasp> ).  I need to make the right decisions quickly because before this summer ends I would be offered a full time position as an engineer but my real aspirations are to become a patent litigation attorney.  Looking through this forum at the various questions being asked and its corresponding postings (some of which seemed to be very argumentative) am I inclined to ask some questions of my own.  The following are some queries I have and would like professional opinions on:

1.  I would be graduating with from an Ivy League University with an engineering degree.  Within the past 3 semesters my GPA fell from a 3.7 to a 3.2 (largely to do with the fact that I have a 1 year old son whom I need to provide for).  I am contemplating on whether I should forfeit my May 2006 graduation and take an extra year and get a dual degree in the Liberal Arts field to get my GPA up to about a 3.5 or 3.6 so that I would have a competitive advantage in the top law schools.

2.  On the same issue as stated in question 1, would getting a higher engineering degree like a Master of Engineering serve me better at getting into these top schools.  

3.  Right after graduation (undergrad), should I proceed and take the patent bar exam to become a patent agent or would going directly to law school become a better option? The reason why I ask this question is because if I decide to turn down my offer from this engineering company, what other alternatives would I have to provide me income while I am in law school?

Title: Re: What is the best route at a career in patent l
Post by IPLVER on Jul 5th, 2005, 4:51pm
ACD having an undergraduate degree from an Ivy league school is certainly quite the feather in your cap.  I would say that especially if you are an EE, going for  Master's degree would not add that much.  For patent litigation you do not even need a technical background but it certainly helps.

If you want to support yourself while going to law school try finding a technical specialist/law clerk program.

Title: Re: What is the best route at a career in patent l
Post by ACD on Jul 6th, 2005, 9:34am
Thanks IPLVER, so is it worth the while for me to obtain the dual degree in Liberal Arts field and get my grades back up?

Title: Re: What is the best route at a career in patent l
Post by PiP on Jul 6th, 2005, 12:42pm
I think that it is not worth it to continue undergraduate study.  Your 3.2 is good enough, I think, as long as you do at least okay on the LSAT.  You can always mention that you have a child and have a difficult major in one of the top schools in the country and that should be enough to get you in to law school.  Staying in school will cost you big time (- 1 year tuition, - 1 year salary, for example.)  You can't ignore that amount of lost money.

Working with a large company gives you at least some advantages in going to law school. You should discreetly speak with the attorneys at your company to make the initial connections.  Often they have some connections to law schools in the area.  Also, see if your company will pay for schooling.  I got a job offer from a large pharma company and spoke with their HR and they offered to pay for law schooling, no problem!  Also, if you do law school part time you can have slightly relaxed admissions standards, in most cases.  I know you didn't ask about night school but it seems like a nice option to consider.

It is important to find a way to get some experience in law before you have to get out there as an attorney.  Maybe you can get into this company and try to move laterally into the legal department?  It's often really difficult to get your foot in the door of a large company, but relatively easy to move around once you are in.

I would say that the financial aid packages normally give you enough cash to live on.  In Philly, it's around $10k per semester for living expenses.  I know it's not that much, but it's just enough in the case that you go full time to law school and still have to provide for your child.  

Title: Re: What is the best route at a career in patent l
Post by ACD on Jul 6th, 2005, 1:25pm
PiP (IPLVER as well) I admire your intelligible response and you provide some thoughtful suggestions.  I have never really phased out night schooling and the possibility still lingers as one of my options.  
Since we are on this discussion, I would like to know if during my senior year I should study and take the patent bar exam before I graduate to became a patent agent.  Is this option more feasible than the possibility that I can work for this company as an engineer?
The real issue here is that even though I respect the field of engineering and adore its qualities, I realized early in my career that engineering is not entirely my satisfaction.  I figured that starting early at what I always wanted to do would give me a more competitive edge than if I stay in engineering and then move into patent litigation (correct me if this perception may be incorrect).  I know patent litigation is a very competitive arena, a competitiveness in which I am not afraid to embark, and I am willing to give what it takes to be successful.  I prefer to attend law school in NYC since I would most likely want to work for a firm in the NYC area (or the tri-state district).
Could any of you give more insight on this?

Title: Re: What is the best route at a career in patent l
Post by Wiscagent on Jul 6th, 2005, 1:46pm
PiP asked "... if during my senior year I should study and take the patent bar exam before I graduate to became a patent agent."

The USPTO will not allow you to take the exam until you graduate.  You certainly can start studying while still in school, but you probably will not be able to take the exam until several months after graduation.  Assuming you pass the exam, it will be an additional couple of months before you are registered as a patent agent.

Richard Tanzer

Title: Re: What is the best route at a career in patent l
Post by Wiscagent on Jul 6th, 2005, 1:57pm
Sorry, misattribution – ACD asked about taking the patent bar while still in school.

- RT   ;)

Title: Re: What is the best route at a career in patent l
Post by PiP on Jul 6th, 2005, 2:25pm
Thanks Richard.  Your responses in these forums are EXTREMELY helpful and I enjoy reading your advice!

ACD, I noticed that there are a few agents (usually 3 or less) at many of the law firms in NYC and who are attending either Fordham or NYU part time.  I don't know how these people get these great positions, but I'll be their firms are paying for the schooling, too.  

Building your experience in law is far more valuable than building it in EE or CE since you plan to do law for the rest of your life.  Might as well start building your knowledge base now...  I am also considering this part-time schooling since I can earn a lot of money with my PhD, but I'm scared about the amount of stress I'll have to take on.  

I want to ask you ACD, as I am just in my application process as well, what do you (or anyone else) think of Cardova (Yeshiva)?  They seem to have put major effort into their IP program.  Also, this might benefit you ACD, they have part time programs that begin at each semester, including summer.   They also let you start law school BEFORE you finish college!  I think that they make up for experience loss (by going to too much school) by also putting focus on clinical programs.  Although I've lived in NYC for a time, I have never heard anyone speak even the name of Yeshiva?!  I'm not saying that it's on par with Columbia or NYU, which would be insane, but what tier would you guys put it?  Is it better than Fordham, St. Johns or Rutgers?  

Title: Re: What is the best route at a career in patent l
Post by ACD on Jul 6th, 2005, 3:23pm
Honestly PiP, I have never heard of Cardova (Yeshiva).  I cannot say where this school would stand when compared to Rutgers, Fordham or St Johns.  I live in NYC and never heard of Cardova.  From many of the other posting I have read in this forum, a school may be much more influential within its district than it would be on a national spectrum.  You might have to consult the school’s statistics to see how Cardova compares to other schools.  
PiP since your in almost the same predicament as I am, I would like to know something.  Even though I am graduating next May I plan to take a year off before I proceed towards law school what is your take on this?
As IPLVER suggested, I could also look into a career as a technical specialist/law clerk or I could even try the patent agent route.  I know this would not probably pay as much as I could obtain within engineering but I would like to know how you’re dealing with the transition from PhD to law?

Title: Re: What is the best route at a career in patent l
Post by IPLVR on Jul 6th, 2005, 5:42pm
ACD the technical specialist law clerk rule means that you have to go to school and work. As a return you will be able to get paid and get experience.

Title: Re: What is the best route at a career in patent l
Post by ACD on Jul 7th, 2005, 9:41am
Thanks IPLVR.  Now to get to the heart of this subject, I would like to know about the pros and cons between Patent Prosecution and Patent Litigation.  
My take is that prosecution involves more of the paper work (a lot of writing involved) and where there exists a lot of interaction between the inventor and the patent attorney.  Where as patent litigation deals more with the lawsuits associated with patents and the excess number of hours being put into preparation for trials.  Since I have a son, would this mean that once I become a litigation attorney I would no longer be there for him and if I am married would inevitably be divorced, or am I over exaggerating this?  Are there a lot of lawyers you know who have defied these odds?

Title: Re: What is the best route at a career in patent l
Post by PiP on Jul 7th, 2005, 12:28pm
Wow, I can't believe that even you, who are from NYC, haven't heard of Cardovo.  That does not bode well for applying there!  I think I'll focus on Fordham, NYU and Columbia in Big Apple Land.

For my transition from PhD-land to law, I've been trying to gain experience at every avenue and to make connections.  For the actual move over, I'm still up in the air due to graduation date (which is why getting a PhD is horrible--you only vaguely know when it will end.)  I am considering full-time school and part-time school.  I'll likely apply to some of the top schools as a part-timer with the hope that they may have lower admissions standards in that pool of applicants.  In that case, I hope that I can get a firm to allow me to's not so easy.  But school name appears to be the MOST important factor in law school choice and that's what I'm focused on with my apps.  

I generally don't think that time off is a good idea but I'm totally hypocritical in saying that because I benefitted from taking time off from academics, myself.  I worked for 2 years in a research lab before I realized that I wanted to go into biotech patent law and it was during the 2 years that I even realized biotech IP law existed.  In addition, because my research background is critical to getting a PhD, I feel much more mature as a scientist in comparison to my peers who generally have to deal with a steeper learning curve. So the time off helped me academically, gave me direction, and made me more mentally confident.

You don't have this situation.  You know what you want to do!  That is so great!  Use it to your advantage.  Were I in your shoes I wouldn't take time off because that is lost money and time.  There are only two things you can do with time off IMO: get more experience or take a lot of vacation.  If you are working on getting experience, then you are working and it's not really time off.  However, if you want to get your thoughts together to apply to schools or whatever, any sort of mental benefit, then it can be helpful.  I really enjoyed working in the real world, by the way, but it is not easy to study after a full day of work.  And I have to say that I was so tired most Fridays that I eliminated that day from the social calendar. On the other hand, if you are taking a long vacaction, I envy you big time.

Regarding relationships, a lot depends on the personality and the attitude of your wife.  At my graduate school there are a lot of married people, including PhDs, MDs, and MD/PhD students who have very little extra time and lots of academic responsibility.  I notice that these people become more focused by their family life.  While I may play on this forum during my free time, they rush straight home to do family stuff.  But their spouses have to be realistic, and you cannot ignore the personality of your wife and child and don't push them too hard.  You probably know what they can and can't take--just don't forget that.  Also, I notice that relationshps for people who have massive time commitments are better when the students communicate to their spouses exactly what they are up to.  It's almost as though they are teaching their spouse what they do in school!  I guess that also helps, because everyone who is married seems to do it.  It would definitely be beneficial if you can cut your commute time down as much as possible.  Going home for lunch could mean a lot!

I should mention that most people in professional schools who are single tend to date other people at their professional schools because they end up having so much in common in time commitments and understanding of those commitments.

Title: Re: What is the best route at a career in patent l
Post by x-zibit on Jul 7th, 2005, 1:05pm
The reason no one has heard of cardovo is because you are spelling it cardovo. The correct spelling is Cardozo.

These posts are annoying because people that are not attorneys and have never been to law school are giving advice to people about what it is like. Geez.

Title: Re: What is the best route at a career in patent l
Post by PiP on Jul 7th, 2005, 2:04pm
Yo, Pimp-My-Spelling, I mentioned Yeshiva ( as well.  I know it's a real difficult connection to make between Cardozo and Cardovo when you have only Manhattan to examine.  Do you actually know anything about the school because that would be more helpful?  I hope you don't go after the grammar in my previous posts...   By the way, you spelled "exhibit" wrong which is very confusing.  

Cardozo ( is in the Greenwich Village/MPD area.  Does anyone have an opinion on it?  It looks really quite excellent on paper to me.

BTW, I agree that it would be really f-ing awesome if some law students or attorneys would come on here and give good advice and have lively conversations.  They won't.  On the other hand, I hate people who think that law school, med school, or any professional school is some sort of radically different activity from every other bit of schooling you've had up to this point. It's not.  However, EVERY school is different somehow.  So if you want to know what it's like, take the advice of every viewbook and go sit in on classes.  

Why don't you read some law blogs by lawyers:
Bag and Baggage (http://bgbg.****/): is by an appellate IP lawyer, has been in the media a lot lately, and has semi-cool podcasts.  You can use the "Blawgs" links on the right side of the home page to find more blogtastic information, right from the law-student's'/-yer's/judge's mouth.  You can also go check out your local book store...

I think your threadcrapping is x-aspirating, x-zibit.  This is a forum for discussion and I would be thrilled if you would x-tend your posts to be more informative about the questions I asked rather than my spelling.

Title: Re: What is the best route at a career in patent l
Post by x-tarded on Jul 7th, 2005, 2:07pm

Title: Re: What is the best route at a career in patent l
Post by x-zibit on Jul 7th, 2005, 2:30pm
Well, in the legal profession, spelling and precision matter. You spelled the school's name wrong twice in the posts above.

Why are you so defensive and easily drawn to arguing? Chill out. Geez.

Title: Re: What is the best route at a career in patent l
Post by Real_IP on Jul 7th, 2005, 2:53pm
Well x-zibit, your observation on the wrongful spelling was very helpful.  I believe you would make a very good “spell checker” for this forum and should apply for a job here doing just that since you'll probably get paid more than your current job  ;) .  I have been a professional IP attorney for probably more than you walked this earth (that's if your not older than 25).  From what I have been reading, the responses that PiP gave to ACD are actually helpful and legitimate responses.  Actual lawyers do not have the time to keep posting information here on this forum so people like PiP who know a lot would be the proper supplement.  From his experiences and insights he gives the proper perspective for people entering into this field.

PiP, keep up the good commenting.......

By the way, x-zibit since you have so much time on your hands and would want something positive to do, I would advise you to read the Terms of Use within this forum.

Title: Re: What is the best route at a career in patent l
Post by PiP on Jul 7th, 2005, 3:07pm

Title: Re: What is the best route at a career in patent l
Post by x-zibit on Jul 7th, 2005, 3:08pm
Thats funny. Well, your assumptions about my age, experience and salary are way off. Details and precision do matter. If they don't to you then your clients should be afraid.

By the way, the terms of use state, in bold, the following: "If you use the forums you do so entirely at your own risk."

Title: Re: What is the best route at a career in patent l
Post by Wiscagent on Jul 7th, 2005, 3:21pm
I'm not all that concerned about the spelling of Cardozo.  But I am disappointed that no one mentioned the namesake of the law school, Supreme Court Justice Benjamin Cardozo (1870-1938).

excerpted from Social Security online:

Justice Benjamin N. Cardozo was a distinguished jurist who had been appointed to the court by President Hoover to fill the seat of the legendary Oliver Wendell Holmes. Modest in demeanor and with a strong philosophical bent, he was the author of four volumes of essays on the philosophy of law prior to being appointed to the court. Cardozo's view of the Constitution was in sympathy with Hamilton's, which he expressed this way: ". . .the great generalities of the Constitution have a content and a significance that vary from age to age. The method of free decision sees thru the transitory particulars and reaches what is permanent behind them."

One historian would describe his work this way: "Every law school graduate can recognize a Cardozo opinion by a quick perusal. His style is unmistakable: limpid clarity, conciseness suffused with a moral almost spiritual luminosity, and a command of historical material that is unrivaled in the entire common-law tradition. The beauty of his prose must be rated with those of the Greek and Roman classicists whose works he read in the original language for his own pleasure." 1 Another would appraise his place in history: "Except for Holmes himself, Justice Cardozo was the preeminent judge of the first half of the twentieth century. Indeed, Cardozo was the outstanding common-law jurist of the twentieth century." 2 And one biographical dictionary would summarize his legacy this way: "Shy and sensitive, immensely learned yet natively humble, Cardozo transcended the heated controversies of this day to take place as one of the dozen or so truly great judges in the Court's history."

excerpted from the Jewish Vertual Library

In 1932, President Herbert Hoover appointed Benjamin Nathan Cardozo to the Supreme Court of the United States. Cardozo was the second Jew, after Louis D. Brandeis, to serve on the nation’s highest court. Previously, Cardozo served as a judge on the New York State Supreme Court and as Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals. Throughout his distinguished career, Cardozo was shaped by his background as a Sephardic Jew.

The Cardozo family is one of America’s oldest and most distinguished. Cardozo forebears were numbered among the founders of Congregation Shearith Israel, the oldest congregation in North America and the central, social institution of New York’s Sephardic community. One 18th-century forebear served as the first Jewish incorporator and trustee of Columbia University another helped found the New York Stock Exchange in 1792; and poet Emma Lazarus was his cousin.

Professor Roscoe Pound of Harvard considered Cardozo one of the ten best legal minds in American history, and his writings and opinions contributed greatly to the evolution of American common law. As a jurist and committed Jew, Justice Cardozo brought honor to the United States and to his people.

Title: Re: What is the best route at a career in patent l
Post by xieta_IP on Jul 7th, 2005, 4:01pm
To answer the question, it is better to go to Columbia, NYU or Fordham if possible.  Cardozo may well give you a good legal education, but it does not have as much of a reputation because it has not existed for very long.  It is only about 30 years old whereas the other schools I mentioned are much older.  Generally, older equals more prestigious (Yale is a good example of this).  Older schools rank higher in reports such as the U.S. News rankings.  This is why the older NYC law schools have many Jewish students with undergraduate degrees from Yeshiva that chose not to go to Yeshiva's law school (Cardozo).  Fordham also has a well regarded evening program.

As for Cardozo the person, he is well known to all law school students.  Take torts class and you'll be sure to hear about his famous opinion in Palsgraf v. Long Island Railroad Co.

Title: Re: What is the best route at a career in patent l
Post by Real_IP on Jul 7th, 2005, 4:10pm
X-zibit, first thing first.  I never in my comment made an assumption on your experience or salary.   It seems you lack the proper ability to pay attention to details because I said that you’d make a good spell checker.  If your an attorney or at the very least trying to be one, "I believe" that you should pay attention to detail else your cross-examiner would make you look like an idiot during a trial.

The only thing I assumed was your age.  If you pay attention to detail you'll notice that I made a disclaimer "(that's if your not older than 25)" so clearly that assumption was based on whether you fit the disclaimer.  

Thirdly, I saw that you had a chance to view the Terms of Use of this forum.  Yet still I could see you don't pay attention to detail.  You just used the first line on that page: "If you use this forum you do so entirely at your own risk".  If you had read the Terms of Use you would have noticed under the section "Terms of Use" and from the first bullet it states:
"You agree, through your use of this forum, that you will not post any material which is false..." I thought you would have used this to show that the main reason for your bashing PiP was that he gave a false misspelling of the university.  This would at least give you a weak (but better than anything you said thus far) argument so that you would have some sort of credibility within this discussion.

As I stated before and hold my point of view, you don't pay attention to detail but you are good at correcting other people's spelling.  So therefore, I think you'll have a better career as a good spell-checker for this forum  ;) .

Title: Re: What is the best route at a career in patent l
Post by ACD on Jul 7th, 2005, 4:38pm
Wow...didn't expect that this discussion would have strike up a debate session.  Anyhow, thanks a lot for the responses (some informative, other argumentative).  

xieta_IP, you made a very good point.  Since I am trying to get the best possible outcome my best bet would be to apply to a well-known school.  When applying to law schools I would still apply to Cardozo but if accepted to any of the top 15 schools then I'll prefer those.  

PiP, when I said take a year off I meant that I would probably work as a law clerk or so (if I am lucky) and while working study for the LSAT.  I wish I could use it to go on vacation but I can never have a vacation now that I have a lifetime responsibility :(  

On that note, would anyone know if a law firm would view me as a liability if I come to work for their firm and already have a son?  Since a lot of law school students are single and don't have any children they essentially prove that they could commit the time needed for the job.  But in my case I want to pursue patent litigation and yet still my son would be young.  Would a firm think that as an employee I would not be able to make my billable hrs?

Title: Re: What is the best route at a career in patent l
Post by TEN on Jul 7th, 2005, 6:03pm
Real IP and x-zibit need to relax.

Real IP - I think you did make a statement saying that x-zibit would make more as a spell checker than at his/her current job. So I dont think you are entirely correct because you sort of did make a comment.

Also I dont think x-zibit was bashing PIP at at all - just correcting the spelling in a rough manner.

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Title: Re: What is the best route at a career in patent l
Post by Eliz on Jul 7th, 2005, 6:52pm
ACD--I don't have know for sure whether a firm would see it as a liability that you are married/have a child, but I'm pretty sure they aren't allowed to ask you about that during an interview.  Of course, they would most likely find out once you were employed, but there is no reason that you need to volunteer the information in an interview.  

Plus, lots of people get married and/or have children during law school.  I wouldn't say it's the norm, but it's not all that uncommon either.  
Also, if you are a bit older than the "traditional" law student (I am guessing you are since you have a child) you are likely more mature and better at managing your time that the younger students.  This will likely give you a leg up in law school.  If you can manage to do well in law school, I doubt that an employer is going to be all that concerned about your personal life...and if they are, they probably aren't the type of firm you want to work for anyway :)  I am am starting law school in the fall, but have taken a few law school questions already (it's a complicated situation)...I have found that the younger students, while many of them are very bright, tend to:  1) spend an inordinate amount of time drinking and staying out really late and 2) be intimidated by the professors to the point that they will not ask questions in class or participate unless called on.  (This is certainly not true of all of them though...don't want any nasty posts in response from an angry law student who does not fit into that:)).

Good luck with your decision!

Title: Re: What is the best route at a career in patent l
Post by PiP on Jul 7th, 2005, 8:57pm
TEN, go post that crap in your MS Word document or something.  Keep it off of the forums as it takes up space.

ACD, don't worry about it, man.  Like Eliz says, a lot of people are getting lifetime commitments at this age!  The firms are going to judge you on work output in the end and you are just going to have to be efficient about it.  Don't worry about it.  Everyone is in the same boat on this stuff.  Oh, and I'm sorry about the vacation thing not working out.  I was totally hoping you'd get to go!

I can't wait to interact with the younger students.  This whole getting my PhD thing has totally ruined social activities and I miss all the work hard/party hard people.  If I don't get into a top tier school I'm going some place fun, goddamnit!  Miami sounds okay...

xieta_IP, thanks for the information.  At least one person has heard Yeshiva!  I totally agree with you: Fordham has nice rep.  This one's tough tho: is Yeshiva better than St. John's?  My god, these applications are going to drain any last bits of money I have!

Title: Re: What is the best route at a career in patent l
Post by PiP on Jul 8th, 2005, 10:08am
Cardozo discussion on another forum (,212.0.html) in case anyone is interested.

Title: Re: What is the best route at a career in patent l
Post by tech spec on Jul 12th, 2005, 3:46pm
This may have been beaten to death, but if possible, go to the best school you can get into, unless a large ammount of financial aid is involved.  I am a tech spec in one of the largest IP firms and even though my firm is a technical background sleeper, they still look at your law school and your law grades.  Very closely. If you don't have an MEng from MIT, you'd better be in the top 10% of Cardozo (or a comparable school).  If you go to Fordham/GW/BU, you will be OK if you are in a top 1/3 and have a EE degree (or PhD. in Bio/Chem, etc).  Columbia and NYU pretty much guarantee you a job (at least here) and depending on your technical background, you might be pushed either in litigation or prosecution.  Anyways, as usual, selectivity varies among firms and there will be firms that are either more or less selective. However, by going to the best school and getting the best grades, you will keep the most doors open by the time you graduate.    

Title: Re: What is the best route at a career in patent l
Post by PiP on Jul 12th, 2005, 3:54pm
Thanks for the insight, Tech Spec!

What do you know/think about clerking during law school?

This thread makes me smile every time I read it! ;D

Title: Re: What is the best route at a career in patent l
Post by tech spec on Jul 12th, 2005, 10:44pm
first of all, in my previous message, the admins replaced "technical background wh*re" with sleeper(?) Hmm... It reads weird.  

Anyways... First, if you want to attend part time law school in NY, you can only go to Fordham and maybe to other lesser schools, like Brooklyn, Cardozo, etc. Columbia and NYU don't have part time programs.  

Second, going to school at night is hard. It pays the bills, the employer pays for the tuition, you get credit towards partership, and get the actual experience, BUT - you give up on 4(!) years of your life, so think hard.  I don't have much time during school year for fun things, get home around 11-12 (assuming some studying after class) & get up at 7-8. Four times a week. Deadlines at work, finals in the school. Not that much fun.  This kind of lifestyle definitely suits older, married people, who, btw, will abound in your evening classes.  Just something to think about.

Title: Re: What is the best route at a career in patent l
Post by Wiscagent on Jul 13th, 2005, 6:17am
“... going to school at night is hard. ... get home around 11-12 (assuming some studying after class) & get up at 7-8. Four times a week. Deadlines at work, finals in the school. Not that much fun.  This kind of lifestyle definitely suits older, married people, ...”

I started going to graduate school at night.  About one month into the semester, we found out that my wife was pregnant.  I finished the semester, but then missed a year of school because I wanted to be home with my wife and the baby when I wasn’t at work.  After the third time of going to school and then finding out that she was pregnant, I gave up on grad school.  PS – we then had a fourth child.

I admire and respect people who can go to school part-time, work full-time, and maintain a decent family life.  But I was unable to do it.  I’m glad to say that I was able to set priorities: my family and my day job are more important than an advanced degree.  No complaints, that’s just how it worked out for me.  Everyone has a different story.

By the way, our youngest will be graduating college soon.  I was thinking of going to law school, but the closest law schools are 100 miles away so I’ll probably pass on that.

One bit of advice I will offer –Don’t let other people define for you what is ‘success’.  Take some time and decide what’s important to you.  And don’t be surprised if your priorities change in a few years.

Richard Tanzer

Title: Re: What is the best route at a career in patent l
Post by PiP on Jul 13th, 2005, 10:41am
TS - Ha!  Think of all the good times you could have by substituting wh*re for  You bring some excellent points.  As I consider applying for part time versus full, I am very concerned about being able to balance job versus school, as you point out.  Having looked into clerkships, I did notice that patent agents at a lot of firms in NYC were going to NYU or Fordham at the same time.  So I guess their firms are paying for them and giving them reduced workload.  If I ran a firm I'd have some majorly high future expectations for anyone that I'd pay for to attend school + their salary!

From RTs story, I think full time is probably a lot better to just get the law school bs overwith (since I am without commitments so far.)  

Thanks for your opinions, guys!!!

I hope I get into at least one decent school.

Title: Re: What is the best route at a career in patent l
Post by ACD on Jul 18th, 2005, 2:59pm
I think I could finally put things into perspective.  After talking to actually patent lawyers who have years of experience I was somewhat able to tally-up my analysis.

PiP, you are taking a perfect road by acquiring your PhD because in your field of study a higher degree would be acceptable.  Since I am an engineer a BS would be suffice but I would still have to worry about my competition.  I spoke with some of the admission representatives of law schools here in NYC and they all basically said the same thing: "there are no set guidelines by which they accept their candidates for law school but a higher degree and some work experience is plus"  

So with that I would pursue my Master of Engineering (or Master of Science depending on if I would like to spend an extra year above the MEng) at Columbia, Cornell, MIT, Princeton, Carnegie, or Univ. of Michigan (Tech Spec what your input here?)  Then with a higher technical degree a patent agent position would be of an easier grasp for me.

Now with about 1 year patent agent experience, a MEng degree or MS degree and some corporate experience a resume should stand out when it comes to looking for that summer associate position in a law firm.

From the lawyers I spoke with, they said that the best way to start of a patent litigation career is to know some prosecution (this is not a requirement but heavily accepted) and what better way to get such experience than from my summer internships while in law school.

With all this accomplished by the time I graduate law school (approx. 5 or 6 years from now) I could eventually start in a law firm doing litigation.

After all I realize that nothing comes easy and since I am young I should not be too hurry to start law school right away.

Any input?

Title: Re: What is the best route at a career in patent l
Post by tech spec on Jul 19th, 2005, 2:01pm
My input?  Well, an MEng from any of the schools you've listed will make you feel good :)   Personally, I got mine because it was free and only took a year.  Then, I spent 5 years in the industry where my MEng arguably gave me some weight.  You, however, are thinking of getting your Masters purely to improve your credentials for law school/law firms.  Honestly, I don't think it's worth the time for that specific purpose. Since you are for Ivy undegrad and have discent grades (make sure to explain the drop in your grades in a letter to law school admissions), if you do well on LSAT, you should have a good chance of getting into a top 25 or maybe even top 14 school.  

If you do well in law school, you will not have a problem getting an IP litigation position.  Patent litigation positions are law-school-credentials-heavy (when compared to patent prosecution positions).  Most firms require some technical background, but in my firm, we have bio/chemisty people litigating EE patents, so it's not a  huge factor.  They all did Law Review, however :)  

On the other hand, if you want to prosecute, MEng and practical experience may give you additional credibility with the clients.  Thus, it's hard to say whether Meng is worth getting purely for the sake of Meng.  The sooner you go to law school, the sooner you'll start getting $125K salary, assuming your other credentials are good.

PS. I don't think an outside student can get a EE MEng in MIT. You'll have to get an MS.

Title: Re: What is the best route at a career in patent l
Post by ACD on Jul 20th, 2005, 12:46pm
Thanks for your input Tech Spec (it seems more vital than what some actual IP attorneys told me).  Well at least I still have one more year to bring my grades back to its competitive edge from where it was. That would be my goal for this senior year.
My summer job is planning to extend a full time offer for me to start working with them when I graduate.  As I stated in my earlier posts, I do not really don't want to work as an engineer and would like to probably start off working in a law firm (i.e. a law clerk or something low) before I start law school.  Would I do more harm if I turn them down?  I plan to work for a year and within that year take the LSAT and apply to law school for the following fall semester.  I know its ultimately hard finding a job in a law firm with no legal knowledge though but I still know that it’s not impossible.
It would be considered unethical from a business perspective if I come to work with this company for just one year and leave to pursue a different endeavor (i.e. patent law) so that's why I was thinking of trying to work in a law firm as oppose to a technical company.  Is this good or bad?
Btw - how were able to pull off your job in a law firm? it in NYC?...what's their perspective on students in my predicament?

Title: Re: What is the best route at a career in patent l
Post by PiP on Jul 20th, 2005, 1:18pm
Ya, I would also like to know how you pulled it off, TechSpec...?  U're in perfect situation, sounds like!

ACD, I don't think that people will find it v unethical if you work for them for a year and then jet.  In considering postdoc opportunities for me while I wait for law school, I thought that it would be really bad of me to start somewhere and then quit to go do law.  The people I ran the idea past didn't really get phased by it, on a moral level or otherwise!  However, it is hard for me to accept that level of ambivalence.  How can you want someone to work for you and then not care very much if he/she leaves?  I think that a big change of fields suggests that you have made a life-altering choice that should be supported, but it still seems wrong somehow.  Anyone else got feedback on this?

Also, the administrator needs to change the forum so that when you are replying to a message, the most recent messages appear beneath the reply window.  Would make it easier.

Title: Re: What is the best route at a career in patent l
Post by tech_spec on Jul 20th, 2005, 2:34pm
Getting a technical specialist position is not easy, but it can be done. It's easier to do around DC/NY/Boston where there are many patent firms. Go to and search for TECHADV (or pull up msg 42501 and look up search codes for other useful stuff as well, such as litigation vs prosecution).  Some of the messages on that board are very useful for identifying which firms have tech. specialist programs, how much they pay, etc.

I landed my job because I have decent grades at a decent law school, good undergrad degree from a top engineering program, and some previous industry/patent experince.  I doubt you need all of that to land a job, but it helps, in my opinion, to have either good (read marketable) engineering experience in the area in which the firm is prosecuting patents or a flashy degree, such as EE from MIT/Berkeley. Or PTO experience. Or, just get lucky and hit on a firm which really, really needs someone and doesn't mind training. It really varies.

However, one advice I could give for finding a tech spec. position is to do research before sending out a ton of resumes.  You will be most likely hired for your technical knowledge, so find a firm that prosecutes/litigates in the area that you are an expert.  It will be much easier to sell yourself to a firm if they think you can help them with technical details.  Once you identify some firms that recruit tech. specialists, go on PTO's website and figure out if these firms file patents in your background. If yes, there is a good chance they will be interested in you.

Title: Re: What is the best route at a career in patent l
Post by PiP on Jul 20th, 2005, 3:30pm
Some of my favorite highlights from that thread:

"...Oh, and you have to supervise all those associates and review and be responsible for all of their work, too. This can lead to a side effect of multiple spouse syndrome.

Think of being an associate going for the brass ring of partnership as a pie-eating contest. If you win, you get the prize--MORE pie!"

:) ;) :D ;D

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