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Author Topic: Too many transitions in law. What can I do now?  (Read 1475 times)

screwed

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Too many transitions in law. What can I do now?
« on: 01-26-18 at 08:48 pm »

Hi,
I am a disaster. I have a PhD in biochemistry and law degree/patent agent, but unfortunately in around 12 years, I worked a four law firms and one inhouse job. To be fair, I was laid off of one of the firms due to lack of work and I left the last firm to go inhouse. However, I have now been laid off from my inhouse role, due to the company having mass layoffs. I do not have any clients and I guess with my numerous career transitions, I am not even getting any one (law firms or companies) returning my emails or responding to my resume. All my firms were decent firms, and I worked for a big company, but I guess none of this matters. I have been laid off for more than 3 months, with only 2 or 3 calls that never went further. It is also great to see how all those external lawyers who were always after my work when I was inhouse have completely ignored me. Being laid off teaches you who your friends are.
My questions are: Is there any way to hide job transitions on a resume or would law firms check my employment history anyway? Also, has anyone here sought work in another country such as Australia, the middle east, Singapore, etc. It looks like I may need to travel far away if I ever want to work as a lawyer again.
Thank you in advance.
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MYK

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Re: Too many transitions in law. What can I do now?
« Reply #1 on: 01-26-18 at 09:32 pm »

Every place is going to check your job history.  You could try Asia;  Taiwan had a big biotech push a couple of years ago.  However, at one of our larger patent crowd get-togethers, I was very surprised to see how many USPTO-registered biotech patent agents/attorneys are already here -- mostly native Taiwanese who recently returned.  Also, salaries are going to be a LOT lower than in the U.S.  Like, well below what a first-year associate makes in the U.S.

Don't know about Singapore and the others;  they probably hire, and you can probably get a better salary than Taiwan, which is notoriously cheap, so much so that the government has been talking about how it's a national security issue.  Anyone with any skill at all can double their pay by working for a Chinese company.
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"The life of a patent solicitor has always been a hard one."  Judge Giles Rich, Application of Ruschig, 379 F.2d 990.

Disclaimer: not only am I not a lawyer, I'm not your lawyer.  Therefore, this does not constitute legal advice.

fewyearsin

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Re: Too many transitions in law. What can I do now?
« Reply #2 on: 01-26-18 at 10:00 pm »

There is nothing inherently wrong with 5 jobs in 12 years, if they were all patent related.  I know a guy that changes firms about every 2 years, almost like on a schedule.  That is just his nature.  I think the biggest problem is that you are not currently employed.  I don't know how to "paper over" that fact.  Have you tried the "less desirable" firms?  The large, foreign prosecution firms, like Oliff and Oblon?  They are sometimes a bit more lax in their hiring requirements because (1) they pay a little less than other big firms, (2) they know that people often don't last long at their firm, and (3) they have longstanding clients with plenty of work and just need drones to bill the work.

Also, the PTO just announced more patent examiner openings.  If you have any interest in working for the PTO as an examiner, apply now.  They are hiring a lot less than they used to, so who knows when more openings will become available.
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This comment: does not represent the opinion or position of the PTO or any law firm; is not legal advice; and represents only a few quick thoughts from the author, not a well-researched treatise.  Seek out the advice of a competent patent attorney for answers to specific questions you may have.

screwed

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Re: Too many transitions in law. What can I do now?
« Reply #3 on: 01-26-18 at 10:16 pm »

Hi,

I have not tried Oliff and Oblon, so thank you for that advice. I will try that. Are there any others?

I hate that I am laid off. My company used to give laid off employees working notice, but then, they just started these mass layoffs with no notice. It was awful. I had a corporate lawyer as my boss and he had zero clue what I did as I was the only IP lawyer. So, that made it an easy decision for him I guess. The postings about going inhouse are correct: you really ought to be careful before taking an inhouse job. My first boss at my company knew about IP. Then, I got a new boss who thought corporate lawyers could do licensing and patents were useless. So, I got laid off.

In terms of job searching, say, I live in San Antonio (and I don't, but using this as an example) and there are no jobs there. Would it be worth my money to rent a place in New York for a month, and try to meet firms in person? I am finding sending resumes from another remote location tend to get ignored.

Thank you.

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chap5

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Re: Too many transitions in law. What can I do now?
« Reply #4 on: 04-08-18 at 10:29 pm »

Transitioning after two years is actually closer to the norm that I've seen, specially at the beginning of the prep/pros career.
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trustme

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Re: Too many transitions in law. What can I do now?
« Reply #5 on: 04-09-18 at 09:31 am »

I am sorry to hear about the layoffs. I know exactly what that's like, and it ain't no picnic. It can be comparable in impact to a death in the family, a divorce, etc.

I second the advice of others above that if you need a job, go for the horrible patent mills and/or the PTO. It sounds like you have enough experience that there should be jobs for you. Good luck and let us know how it turns out.
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Toot Aps Esroh

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Re: Too many transitions in law. What can I do now?
« Reply #6 on: 04-09-18 at 12:30 pm »

Sorry to learn of your ill-fortune.

I don't have any real advice not already given above, but wanted to address the "Would it be worth my money to rent a place in New York for a month, and try to meet firms in person?" question. 

In my opinion this would not be worth the money.  If they're not returning your calls (or responding to your cover letter/resume, which I assume you're sending out with blizzard-like coverage), being there in person likely won't help, either.  And will just hurt your wallet.

Best of luck to you in any event, and I hope something turns up.
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novobarro

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Re: Too many transitions in law. What can I do now?
« Reply #7 on: 04-09-18 at 02:01 pm »

Quote
I second the advice of others above that if you need a job, go for the horrible patent mills and/or the PTO. It sounds like you have enough experience that there should be jobs for you. Good luck and let us know how it turns out.

I've worked at firms that specialize in foreign and domestic based prosecution.  I know Oliff has a bad reputation, but I though ti was more for their culture.  What is it about foreign-based prosecution "mills" that are different than other types of firms?  I didn't really see a difference and I've known people who have switched from firms like Finnegan (for negative reasons) to work for firms like Oliff and were more or less happier at the foreign-based firm.

As to OP's original problem, you have lots of experience and am assuming you've made many contacts along the way.  Have you reached out to former colleagues to see if they are hiring?  You could try doing contract work in the meantime just so you don't have a gap in your work history.

I agree that 5 jobs in 12 years isn't unheard of.  I don't think it will prevent you from getting an interview.  Once you get the interview, as long as you can explain the circumstances and have good references, you should be OK.
« Last Edit: 04-09-18 at 02:09 pm by novobarro »
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fewyearsin

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Re: Too many transitions in law. What can I do now?
« Reply #8 on: 04-09-18 at 03:01 pm »

Re: Oliff and the like . . .

The issue is, as you noted, one of firm culture.  But the work can be a problem for some people.  It is largely mindless "get us a patent" work, not "help us get the protection we need for our product" type work that can be more fun/challenging.  But if you don't mind being a white-collar drone, those places usually have reasonable hour requirements and very predictable workloads.  But you will never make partner or have any meaningful interaction with clients.  You probably won't draft apps (since they are mostly filed in foreign countries first).  You won't get within a hundred miles of litigation.  But it will pay the bills, so if you go in with eyes open, those kinds of firms aren't that bad. 
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This comment: does not represent the opinion or position of the PTO or any law firm; is not legal advice; and represents only a few quick thoughts from the author, not a well-researched treatise.  Seek out the advice of a competent patent attorney for answers to specific questions you may have.
 



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