Intellectual Property Forums (

(Message started by: Powerman on Jul 28th, 2005, 10:54am)

Title: Advice on changing career to patent agent
Post by Powerman on Jul 28th, 2005, 10:54am

I will greatly appreciate anyone's answering my questions.  First, let me give you my situation.

I am yet another person who is just starting to look into being a patent agent.   I am software engineer with about 20 years of experience and, frankly, I'm pretty much fed up with the constant layoff anxiety in this field.
So, I'm looking into working in the legal field, hoping that I can be less subject to layoff pressure.  

I applied to (and was accepted) at the Dallas-area law schools but, at 46 years of age, it really doesn't seem like a viable option for me.
So, instead, I'm looking at passing the patent exam and getting some sort of paralegal training and then hitting the streets to look for a job.  

Here are my questions:

1)  What is the best paralegal certification to get?
    If anyone knows where to get this in the Dallas area
    that will be great to know.

2) Assuming that I get paralegal training and pass the
   patent exam, what is the likelihood that I could get
   a job?  In a firm?  In a corporation?

3) I assume that working in a firm would b preferrable
   to working in a corporation; I disagreeumption is based
   on I disagreeumption that firms will allow a person to
   work as long as they are healthy and productive,
   whereas corporations seem to have an "out with the
   old, in with the young" sort of an attitude.  
   Any comments on this assumption?

4) What percentage of patent agents work in firms,
   as opposed to corporations?

5) With the resume I would be presenting (ie, 20 years
   as an engineer, paralegal certification, and patent
   exam) would I have a reasonable chance to get on
   with a decent-sized (not necessarily BIGLAW) firm?
   Would I have a significantly better chance to get on
   with a corporation?

6) What would my starting salarly likely be?  What about
   salary projection over, say, the next 10 to 15 years?

Thanks again in advance for any comments!

Title: Re: Advice on changing career to patent agent
Post by PiP on Jul 28th, 2005, 2:28pm
I cannot advise on most of what you are interested in.

However, during your 20 years of experience have you been involved with a large enough company to have a dedicated legal department or have enough connections through your work to make some sort of legal connections through which you could find a job?  This would be by far your best bet to find a job.  Even if others can guage your potential options, you need to find a job by this method 1st.  In what I've read, you may be faced with paycuts to move into law as a patent agent. :'(

You also might want to hang out at your current company depending on your pension options, particularly if you have a non-contributory defined plan (or nice non-defined plan and assuming you have the minimum service time.)  Seems so risky to change over for only $60-80k per year for minimal job security. :-/

Title: Re: Advice on changing career to patent agent
Post by Dean on Jul 29th, 2005, 8:31am
I would not advise it. See my response to rrogers, below.


Title: Re: Advice on changing career to patent agent
Post by Wiscagent on Jul 29th, 2005, 8:52am
You may want to consider leveraging your interest in patents with your experience as a software engineer by looking into jobs as a patent facilitator (a.k.a. patent strategist, patent engineer, patent liaison).  These kinds of jobs involve working with technical and legal staff, usually in a large organization, to encourage disclosure of inventions, to act as a "translator" between technical personnel and legal personnel, and to add in-depth understanding of business needs and a technical perspective to legal decision making.  

The patent facilitator may have the responsibility of tracking competitive patent activity, have a voice in filing decisions, and developing i.p. strategy.  While not generally required, being registered as a patent agent is desirable for such positions.

Title: Re: Advice on changing career to patent agent
Post by bjr on Jul 29th, 2005, 9:35am
Just a passing comment that you do not need a paralegal certificate to work as a patent agent.  A paralegal certificate is irrelevant and would not be beneficial to your goal of becoming a patent agent.  

Title: Re: Advice on changing career to patent agent
Post by Eliz on Jul 29th, 2005, 12:27pm
I tried to reply to this the other day, but lost my post because I forgot to log in.  But I was also going to say that I'm not sure getting a paralegal certification is going to help you much.  I would at least try to talk to some attorneys in your area first and see what their advice would be on that.  I know that in some cases, having such a certification can even hurt you--e.g. I know one attorney who will not hire anyone with such a certification because he likes to train people himself, to do things his way.  He doesn't like people coming in with preconceived notions of how things should be done.  However, I don't know how widespread that is.  In any case, I would think concentrating on passing the patent bar should be your priority (and also, as much networking as possible).  

Also, if you are tied to the Dallas area, I would highly recommend looking at the websites of the firms in your area to see if they even hire patent agents.  While this is a fairly common thing in big cities on the coasts (and to some extent in Chicago), in other areas it is pretty rare.  I don't know anything about Dallas per se, but I would definitely look into that before you go too far down this path.  If you are willing/able to relocate, your options may open up considerably.  

Good luck!

Title: Re: Advice on changing career to patent agent
Post by John Robottom on Jul 29th, 2005, 2:29pm
Thanks to everyone for the thoughtful replies.

Here's another crazy idea that involves law school (I know, I said I had decided not to go, but I guess I just
hate letting go of that dream).  I will definitely bounce
this idea off of local (Dallas) firms and legal headhunters,
but your comments would also be appreciated:

  1)  Pass the patent exam.
  2)  Find a firm that will take me on as a patent
       agent and will agree to "significantly" assist
       with law school tuition, while I agree to
       be a lawyer for them at graduation.

If I could pull this off, then that would alleviate my
major fear about law school:  The cost of it.

I wouldn't mind too much having to take low pay as
a patent agent / student as long as I could get a
more reasonable salary when I can change my job
title to "lawyer".

Again, thanks in advance for your comments.
By the way, if you know of anyone that has taken this
route, I would be most appreciative if you could let
me know how to contact them.


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