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Author Topic: Patent Agent salaries in biglaw?...and questions about becoming attorney  (Read 852 times)


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With a PhD, what do senior agents typically top out at?   When I conduct google searches i see averages that seem very low (these may include small firms though). Even the upper end of the bell curve is below where i started salary wise with almost no experience.  I have an agent friend that has gone through two job searches after about 4 years experience in pros. and had several offers in the 160 range.  I don't know many other agents, especially in my tech area (chemical, pharmaceutical) so I'm a bit in the dark about earning potential.

I'm trying to decide if law school and being an attorney is worth the extra money, or if I value the little relaxation/sanity time that I have left as an agent more than the money I would miss out on.

If anyone could comment on quality of life or life/work balance of being an agent vs. an associate in big law that would be appreciated too. I'm aware of hours requirements but would like to hear about other aspects.

If anyone can comment on what its like moving to different firms or job security at a firm when an agent vs associate, that would also be appreciated.
« Last Edit: 05-23-18 at 04:30 am by Jackoose »


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How old are you?  I know they're not allowed to ask, but there is very real age discrimination in biglaw.  If you are in your late 30s, it may be too late to go to law school and start as a fresh associate in your 40s.  Not saying it can't happen, but biglaw may be out of reach. 

Do you want to do anything other than prosecution?  Then go to law school.  If you're good just sticking to prosecution, stay an agent and have a slightly better work/life balance.

Will your firm pay for law school?  Take advantage of that.  If not, how badly do you want to pay for law school out of pocket?  Or how soon do you want to go?  Maybe find a firm that will pay for law school and move there.
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.

Toot Aps Esroh

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I may be working on old data, but I have the impression that your friend, an agent with 4 years experience, at 160K is considerably above average for agents at that level, and may be due to having a particular expertise area that is in need? 

Hopefully others with more recent information can contradict if I'm wrong. 

As for becoming an attorney, what would it cost you? Have you decided what school(s) you're interested in? Have you taken the LSAT and know you can get a free ride locally?  (sorry if I'm forgetting an earlier thread where this was already mentioned).  Or does your firm cover tuition? 

Edit to add:  Sorry, I cannot comment personally on your specific question about agent/atty work/life balance.   I do get the impression from reading these fora over the years that while some agents can have incredible billable requirements, the normal case is that most agents in a firm have a better W/L balance than do most attorneys.
« Last Edit: 05-23-18 at 10:49 pm by Toot Aps Esroh »


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