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(Message started by: bozo on Aug 13th, 2006, 7:37pm)

Title: Way to get into patent law after graduating?
Post by bozo on Aug 13th, 2006, 7:37pm
So, if I graduate from law school with no patent job, how can I ever get into patent law?

Working for PTO is not an option. Changing practice groups inside a firm is not an option. I'm talking about up and moving to a different city and "starting over." I've noticed that most law firms hire nearly exclusively from their 2L summer associates. As someone in another thread mentioned, 2L summer gigs are for 2Ls, not graduates. So it seems graduates are screwed...

Is it safe to say that getting into patent law after graduating with no job is extremely unlikely?

Title: Re: Way to get into patent law after graduating?
Post by guest on Aug 14th, 2006, 7:11am
<< Working for PTO is not an option. >>


Why is working for the PTO "not an option"?

Title: Re: Way to get into patent law after graduating?
Post by Never been to on Aug 14th, 2006, 8:44am

I'm assuming you have an engineering degree...

"Is it safe to say that getting into patent law after graduating with no job is extremely unlikely?"

Not at all.  With due respect, you don't understand the business.

There are several "huge" law firms--Jones Day, Fulbright, Fish & Richardson, etc.  Those firms have a pretty rigorous approach to hiring lawyers.

Corporation want to hire lawyers with 2-3 years of experience.

BUT:  There are many, many smaller boutique IP firms, especially in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Dallas.  They don't have a budget for internships, so they hire people right out of school.  They also don't advertise their jobs as much.  So, you might have to look at some trade publications (IPLaw or the Journal of Patent Law) for their advertisements.

In many ways, working for a boutique is preferable to working for a large law firm.  They are much more flexible and generally are more fun.

Title: Re: Way to get into patent law after graduating?
Post by bozo on Aug 14th, 2006, 9:54am
No, I really don't understand the business. In some ways, it's disgusting to me.

Do all these boutiques even have websites? For example, when I peruse nalp, I only seem to get the huge megacorporations. Their salaries are attractive, as are their clientelle, and I wouldn't mind the law hours. I guess I really don't have a shot because my law school/grades are unimpressive (even though, looking at their attorney profiles, it seems some "bottom feeders" sneak in anway--connections?).

So, for the boutiques, is it appropriate to "mass mail" them? I am told they generally do their hiring late in the year, Novemberish? These are the firms which care less about law school reputation and grades? How do they pay vis a vis (always wanted to use that expression!) the big megafirms?

Thanks for your input.

Title: Re: Way to get into patent law after graduating?
Post by never been to on Aug 14th, 2006, 10:18am
If you are disgusted by the business (and the practice of law is a business), then perhaps you had better find a different line of work.

Everyone cares about law school grades and reputation.  It is simply that it doesn't matter as much in a boutique.

There are lots of people at smaller law firms that went to obscure law schools or who weren't Order of the Coif.  So, they tend to be more flexible about the grades.

I wouldn't mass mail.  Find some firms near where you want to live, and then read up on them--what is their practice, who are their clients, etc.

You probably will make 20% less at a boutique as opposed to the megafirms.  But, you probably will have more free time  to enjoy what you make.  

Title: Re: Way to get into patent law after graduating?
Post by bozo on Aug 14th, 2006, 2:28pm
Sure, perhaps the law is not for me. If I could invent a time machine, I would probably go back in time to the day when I applied to law school, and kill self.

You don't find it moderately disturbing that striking out during 2L OCI effectively eliminates 1/2,--1/3, 2/3, whatever--of your career opportunities for the rest of your life? It seems that making a career out of working at boutiques will not be easy. My understanding is that a great deal of attorneys at boutiques start these firms or lateral there after working at big firms. I've never really heard of attys soley doing boutique work through out their careers. Is this common?

Title: Re: Way to get into patent law after graduating?
Post by Zing on Aug 14th, 2006, 10:16pm
"never been to" has it right.

If you have an engineering degree and a law degree, you should be able to find a boutique that is willing to give you a look.  Although, if your law and/or undergraduate grades are horrible, you might have a tough road ahead of you.

If your grades are decent, a little persistence and/or networking will work wonders.  You need to think outside of the NALP directory box.

Title: Re: Way to get into patent law after graduating?
Post by never been to on Aug 15th, 2006, 7:52am
bozo:

I'm not trying to be a pain, but you really don't understand the business side of practicing law.  Working at a law firm, whether a boutique or megafirm, isnt' like working as a school teacher, an engineer or a doctor.  

Your starting job as a lawyer is, generally, grunt work.  You work somewhere for a few years to figure out how to be a lawyer.   With luck, you find someone who is a good mentor and helps you become a good lawyer.

After about 5 years, any firm, whether a boutique or a megafirm, expects you to have clients.  Clients pay you for your work.  You build your business by getting clients.    Clients can come either internally at a firm or externally from the street.

So, your first goal when you get out of law school is to find someone to help you become a good lawyer.  Your second goal is to learn how to develop clients.

Many patent attorneys work at boutique firms.  The boutique firms give a lawyer the most flexibility in developing their practice.  If you find a good one with some good senior lawyers, it can be a very rewarding experience financially as well as metaphysically.   People who get in a good boutique firm love it.  They have a whole lot more direct control over their life than lawyers at the megafirms.

Title: Re: Way to get into patent law after graduating?
Post by IPNewbie on Aug 16th, 2006, 7:29am
I'll tell you what a partner at a boutique firm told me.  They really want someone with litigation experience, even if not in patent law.  He said he'd prefer to see an application from an associate with 2-3 years of experience at an insurance defense firm (or something similar where you get a lot of in-court, practical experience) than one from someone right out of law school, because then they don't have to train that person on the basics.

If your grades are poor, then the goal is just to get a job.  Do well at your job.  Get involved in the local bar, make contacts, get to know people.  When you are ready to move into a patent law firm, use the contacts you have obtained to find a firm that is looking for someone.  

Title: Re: Way to get into patent law after graduating?
Post by bozo on Aug 16th, 2006, 11:06am
IPnewbie, thanks for your input, it is very encouraging. However, are you referring to only patent litigation boutiques? I am not sure I will or even want to do patent lit. Also, I am told that patent lit boutiques are getting eaten up rather fast by the big firms.

Networking. ugh. It's not my thing. (Yes, I know what you're thinking.) Unfortunately, the city in which I attend law school is not a feasible place to practice patent law. And the emails I fire off to practicing attorneys in my target markets asking for advice/etc. usually just get ignored.

Title: Re: Way to get into patent law after graduating?
Post by IPNewbie on Aug 16th, 2006, 12:26pm
So, you want to get into patent law, but you will only do patent prosecution, and you won't work for the PTO?

Well, start with this:  do you have a science degree?  Have you taken the patent bar?

If you have identified a "target market", I don't think that just "shooting off" random emails is going to get you anywhere.  Send a resume and cover letter and ask for an informational interview (better yet, put in the letter that you will call on "x" date about arranging an informational interview).  

As for networking, do you have friends?  That's all a network is.  I'm currently job searching, and all I have done, pretty much, is ask my lawyer friends who they know who might be interested in talking with me.  Then I can put in my cover letter that "x suggested that I write to you."  I'm finding that it opens a lot of doors.

And, the networking thing goes back to the "business" of law.  If you want to be a successful lawyer, as someone has already pointed out, you are going to have to bring in clients.  Guess how you do it?

Title: Re: Way to get into patent law after graduating?
Post by bozo on Aug 16th, 2006, 12:57pm
Yeah, so I suck. But you didn't address my question above re if you were referring to lit/pros boutiques.

Maybe I'm completely crazy (not uncommon for law students!)? If you're intested in doling out advice, here's my situation: undergrad liberal arts major/physics minor. attend lower-ranked law school on roughly 2/3 academic scholarship. grades not terrible, not good. have been taking EE classes while in law school and have essentially all the math, physics, and EE that a BSEE has (not that it's necessarily worth anything to anyone). Contemplating applying to MSEE programs and completing one commensurate with my JD. It would likely be a unprestigious school in TX (which is where I want to practice; my law school is in a state adjacent to TX).

As far as PTO and patent lit, sure, I'd give them each a shot, but it looks like my background is pointing me in the prosecution direction. I think.

As for networking, yes, I've tried what you recommend. Attorneys usually seem almost indigant over "X said I should call you." Usually I just email asking for advice, not job interviews; the advice I HAVE gotten was pretty bad. And, in my opinion, none of the strategies mentioned is going to make much difference to a law firm recruiting director (just my opinion).

I feel like I'm about *this close* to not showing up to class this Monday. Anyone else wish they had applied to med school? I just want a career where I can make a little dough, enjoy what I do, and feel secure in my job. More and more, it looks like this law thing is not realistic for me. Should I seriously consider getting out? All told, I'm about 30K in debt.

I really appreciate whatever comments/advice/insults you have to offer.

Title: Re: Way to get into patent law after graduating?
Post by IPNewbie on Aug 16th, 2006, 2:13pm
I'm not trying to be insulting, Bozo, I'm just trying to understand your situation.

Okay. You have the classes necessary (probably) to take the patent bar under Part B (Part A doesn't apply b/c you don't actually have a degree). EE is pretty hot right now, from what I understand, so it's good that that is your field.

I think it's fine if you want to be a patent prosecutor as opposed to a litigator--different strokes and all that. It just sounded to me like you wouldn't even consider a firm that *does* patent litigation. You may know better than me (there is only one patent firm in my city), but it's not my impression that a patent boutique is either prosecution or litigation--usually it's a bit of both. The boutique I've applied to does both, plus a fair amount of trademark.

I don't think you need to get an MSEE. You'd probably be better off taking the patent bar if you can do so without your grades suffering. That's a big qualification right there. And, firms love it when you have experience, which is why I suggest you do a stint at the PTO if you can.

As for your approach to lawyers/firms in your target areas, have you been working with your career services office? If not, they may be able to help you fine-tune your approach.

Title: Re: Way to get into patent law after graduating?
Post by Isaac on Aug 16th, 2006, 2:51pm

on 08/16/06 at 12:57:29, bozo wrote:
As far as PTO and patent lit, sure, I'd give them each a shot, but it looks like my background is pointing me in the prosecution direction. I think.


Why do you think your background points towards prosecution?   You may have enough course work to qualify to take the patent bar under category B but your major is non-technical.  Other than some old school math majors from back in the day before computer science degrees were widely offered, your background is decidely atypical for an attorney doing patent prosecution.   Do you have some relevant work experience?


Quote:
Attorneys usually seem almost indigant over "X said I should call you." Usually I just email asking for advice, not job interviews; the advice I HAVE gotten was pretty bad.


I've been cold called on occasion.  I'm not all that helpful with regards to getting you a job interview, but other than possibly asking you to call back a little later because I'm in the middle of something, I would not be inclinded to put anyone off.   Try calling some fellow alumni.


Quote:
I feel like I'm about *this close* to not showing up to class this Monday. Anyone else wish they had applied to med school?


That has been fairly evident in every one of your posts.   You seem to be trying to confirm that you have no chance to succeed at patent law.   There are some obstacles in your path, some of which are self created.  You may have to take some steps that those Boalt grads don't need to take in order to land that first job.




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