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Anyone considering a career as a patent attorney?

  1. Oct 2, 2012 #76
    I am so glad to find this forum. I am currently a PHD candidate in environmental engineering and I absolutly do not want to be an engineer after all these years of school. But I do love doing the research work. I was talking to a professor about patent law/agent and I am wondering if being an agent with a PHD will give me good career options or is it better that I get the law degree? Also how long did it take to get a law degree after completing your engineering degree?
  2. Oct 2, 2012 #77


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    Environmental engineering is not a typical background for a patent attorney but it's not a bad one. I'm just not sure how much a pHD will be valued by employers. In any case, it wont hurt.

    Law school is three years minimum (took me three years and most full time programs are 3 years). You can't do school any faster because the ABA wont let you - it's BS.
  3. Oct 3, 2012 #78
    Hi, thanks for the wonderful forum.

    I am mechanical engineer and have 10+ automotive, manufatcuring experience. i am in mid 90's salary. i am thinking to change my career to patemt agent and eventually patent attorney. what are your thoughts? how should i pursue?
  4. Oct 4, 2012 #79


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    I would expect that you would take a salary cut as a patent agent. You may also not be thrilled with your salary as a patent attorney after spending $120K on school and losing three years of income and benefits. When you start off, you will either be making about what you are now with a 40 hour work week or you will be working 60-70/hrs a week and making a lot more but essentially working two jobs. That is...if you can find a job. The market stinks right now. If it's what you really want to do, it will all be worth it but certainly don't do it for the money because you may find yourself sorely disappointed.

    If you are really just looking for ways to move up the ladder because you feel you have reached the top with your current job, consider a MBA instead. Engineers with experience and an MBA can transition easily to the management side of companies and this can be very lucrative and provide you with a lot of flexibility with respect to what jobs you are qualified for. Employers are also often willing to pay tuition for their employee's MBAs and it's an easier program to do overall. It's also easier to go to school for part time while getting your MBA so you can continue enjoy an income while in school. Lastly, I have yet to meet a MBA graduate having a hard time finding a job within my circle of friends. The story for my law school grad friends is quite different.
  5. Oct 4, 2012 #80
    Thanks for your quick reply. Can I start as a part time agent (after taking bar exam) and that way gain some experience to switch to full time agent to keep my salary more or less the same? what are the prospects of part time patent agent?
  6. Oct 6, 2012 #81
    THans for all of your information! I'm a high school syudent, and considering to be a patent attorney in the future. What would you suggest I do? What classes and AP tests should I take? Thanks!
  7. Oct 9, 2012 #82
    thanks a lot for the information.. I've now decided to do a masters degree in biotechnology before venturing into the IP world. Will it come handy to do a dual degree of MBA/MS in Biotechnology?

    thank you
  8. Oct 9, 2012 #83


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    @perryplatypus - I'm assuming you're in the US. If not, I can't provide valuable advice because the requirements are different in each country. That said, prepare for a scientific undergraduate major, perhaps by taking advanced math and science courses in high school. Research undergraduate programs and consider what type of major to pursue and determine which colleges you would like to apply to. The school you choose can affect your law school applications, so aim for high ranked schools and ones with a name that will be recognized around the country as you don't know where you will be applying for law school. Start following IP focused blogs to see what the hot issues are right now. The law is evolving constantly. If you find yourself getting bored with reading those blogs, you'll know that maybe it's not the career for you.

    @parimala - My understanding is MBAs aren't highly valued in the legal field
  9. Oct 9, 2012 #84
    oh! okay.
    thanks again for the information!
  10. Oct 14, 2012 #85
    Thank you VERY much for your informative responses!
  11. Nov 4, 2012 #86
    Firstly, I really appreciate you taking your valuable time to answer our questions. I am currently working on my Bachelors in Civil Engineering and I was wondering which of these to fields will benefit me the most if I want to pursue Patent Law,getting a Masters degree in Mechanical Engineering or getting a Masters degree in Structural Engineering?

    Thank you :biggrin:
  12. Nov 5, 2012 #87


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    Masters in ME will provide you with more versatility. If you search the job boards, there are many job postings for patent attorneys with a ME background and probably none with a civ engr or structural engr background.
  13. Nov 5, 2012 #88
    I would love to, but I don't think I could. :(
  14. Nov 7, 2012 #89
    I'm a freshman engineer at the University of Pittsburgh and will be most definitely declaring my major as Chemical Engineering in the near future. I'm interested in becoming a patent attorney because law is definitely my favorite next to chemistry. I am kind of lost on what I can do as far what it takes to become a patent attorney. This is because I have an integrated curriculum geared toward engineering, not law.

    My questions are what can I do (as far as electives go) that can take me closer to becoming a patent attorney? What I am kind of trying to ask is how much more schooling does it take and is there, and is there any more that I can do now to reduce the amount of extra schooling it takes to go from a ChemE to a ChemE PA?
  15. Nov 7, 2012 #90


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    See prior posts regarding chemical and biological sciences. Odds are you will need an advanced degree. Some schools offer shortened masters programs if you go to the same school, directly after obtaining your undergraduate. If you are certain you want to be a chemE patent attorney, plan to get at least a masters. Law school cannot be accelerated because the ABA requires 3 years minimum so there are no undergraduate classes that will count toward that degree.

    I do not think that there are any pre-law type classes that are necessary or even that beneficial. It's ok to focus on your technical background now and get the legal education later. You may want to consider taking some additional writing classes to beef up your communication skills but this is just an idea. As an undergrad student I chose to tie in law for papers and presentations where we had an open subject. You could do this, but it's hardly required.
  16. Nov 8, 2012 #91
    I’ve learned a lot from your posts. I just blazed through 20-30 patent attorney jobs and I saw a lot of jobs for people with Electrical Engineering or Computer Science background. If my goal is to become a highly competitive patent attorney once I graduate, would you recommend me to get a masters in Electrical instead of Mechanical?
    Thank you again! :biggrin:
  17. Nov 9, 2012 #92
    I'm currently a senior studying Geology at the School of Mines and Technology in Rapid City South Dakota. I recently found out that the requirements for my degree grant me a "B category" rating for admission to the Patent Bar Exam.

    This is what I know, and following are the questions that I have, I hope you can help:

    Although I am studying Geology, it is Geological Engineering that is listed in the "A category" for the Patent Bar Admission, and I know that the geosciences are going to be incredibly desperate for field workers in the next 5 years. This being said, geoscience majors will be offered more incentive to work in their field for a company. This will likely manifest a shortage of patent lawyers with a Geological Engineering degree. In your opinion, considering the state of the economy and the demand for Geoscientists/engineers in the field:

    1.) Does this improve my chances of obtaining a job as a patent lawyer with a geology degree?

    2.) Would it be more prudent to search for a job as a patent lawyer with my current degree or should I return to school to finish a bachelors degree in geological engineering before I embark to law school?

    3.) Have you ever met or heard of a patent lawyer with a bachelors degree in Geological Engineering or any of the other geosciences?

    4.) Last but not least, do you have any information about the likelihood of available jobs for patent lawyers within the niche of the geosciences?

    I know you are not in the geosciences, but any information you provide will help. I have been blessed with the opportunity to look into this career path and I would like to thank you for all the patience you've displayed with everyone involved in this thread. I also wanted to thank you for your expertise, and for all of the information you have given to everyone who has been following along! For those of us who are just getting started on our journey, you are the most helpful resource available!

    For any insight or enlightenment you can provide,
    Thank You Thank You Thank You!
  18. Nov 9, 2012 #93


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    In the past 6-8 years, the demand for patent attorneys with a EE background is higher than MEs. You'd be fine either way but EEs are "hot right now" and probably will remain in high demand for as long as new electronics are being developed.
  19. Nov 9, 2012 #94


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    1.) Does this improve my chances of obtaining a job as a patent lawyer with a geology degree? I dont know with any certainty. If you check current job postings and can't find anyone looking for your background, that will say a lot, however, there can be some benefit to having knowledge that no one else does. There just may be some firm who represents a company that develops a lot of geo tech and specifically ones someone to represent that one big client. I just don't know. Being less generic could be a curse but it could also be a blessing. You may have to rely on hard work, good timing and a little luck to make it work. I will note that there are zero job postings for a patent attorney with an industrial engineering background. I'm lucky that my employer knew that IE is largely similar to mechanical. Just because you don't see a job posting for attorneys with your major doesn't mean it's a lost cause, but it can make things more difficult.

    2.) Would it be more prudent to search for a job as a patent lawyer with my current degree or should I return to school to finish a bachelors degree in geological engineering before I embark to law school? There is no right answer. Taking on more schooling is not a decision to take lightly as it is very expensive and may not put you in a better position. I would search the internet to try and find a patent attorney that has a degree similar to the ones you are considering. Call them up for an informal interview and ask them what they think you should do.

    3.) Have you ever met or heard of a patent lawyer with a bachelors degree in Geological Engineering or any of the other geosciences? No I have not

    4.) Last but not least, do you have any information about the likelihood of available jobs for patent lawyers within the niche of the geosciences? Google will provide you with more reliable information than I can. I'd start with current job postings in a variety of markets. Also try finding some patent attorneys through google with similar backgrounds and call them for an informational interview as discussed above.

    I'm sorry I could not be more helpful. I do strongly encourage you to do more research online. It's best to know exactly what you're getting into before you get half way down a career path. As previously mentioned, checking online job postings is a great resource to gauge a market and what employers are looking for. If you anticipate being in a niche field, it's best to try and find someone who does what you want to do via google. Odds are that if you give them a call, be really nice and understand their time is valuable, have an organized set of questions and are polite, they will spend a couple minutes with you to give you some insight. Who knows, you may just develop a valuable contact in the process.
  20. Nov 10, 2012 #95

    Thanks for this informational post
    I'm currently pursuing my Phd in Pharmaceutical sciences and considering the current job market would want to do something while im doing PhD.
    I think patent attorney (career in patent law) excites me and also seems very lucrative.
    Can you let me know if there are any good chances of getting a job after PhD in pharmaceutical sciences in law firm?
    Can you also let me know whether meanwhile doing PhD i can take some extra courses or do some law stuff which can help me get a headstart after im done with PhD and can get a job related to this field.

  21. Nov 11, 2012 #96


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    I expect that you would be in high demand. Don't take my word for gospel but there are plenty of new drugs to be patented and not very many people that would have the level of education you will have when entering the job market.

    There aren't any pre-law classes that you need to take. Perhaps take some extra writing/communications classes but that's just a suggestion.
  22. Nov 11, 2012 #97
  23. Nov 23, 2012 #98
    Hi, I am a biochemistry major and I am interested in pursuing patent law.
    I recently saw some information on PSM degrees, where you get say a masters in biotechnology. Its supposed to be composed of approximately 70% "science" and 30% business or law related courses - courses focusing more on the role of science in society I guess you could say. Specifically the biotechnology masters at the university of Toronto.

    Do you think doing a masters in this field would be wise? And do you think if I obtained the PSM masters degree I would need a PhD, given that I have no background in engineering?

    I guess what Im asking is 1) is this PSM degree a good idea? 2) if I did this degree, would I have any chance at getting hired as a patent agent without a PhD? 3)if I did this degree, as well as law school, would I have any chance of getting hired as a patent attorney without a PhD? 4) in general, with my degree in biochemistry, what do I need to do to become a patent attorney going forward?

    Thank you in advance!
  24. Nov 28, 2012 #99
    Wow! Lots of great information on here.

    My question is slightly different but hopefully you can still answer.

    I am originally a finance major, and was contemplating to become an investment banker.

    Some things have changed recently and I want to change my major to an engineering degree because of the great fallback it provides. Like you mentioned earlier, you never intended on becoming an engineer; I have similar motives. Anyway, I want to major in Industrial Engineering. This particular engineering interests me the most because of its strong ties to money, management, business, statistics. Basically from my research, it seems that it would be the equivilent to a business degree but just on the engineering side. As a side note, I know how much math is involved and I am very good at math so that is not an issue (calculus, differential equations etc.)

    Sooooo to get to my point, I am very interested in Patent Law. After reading your posts along with research from other sources it seems that IE simply is not in high demand for this type of law. EE and ME are but I am simply not very interested in these subjects given that I was originally a finance major. Furthermore, I do want to go to law school. I know that having an engineering background is much more impressive (as long as GPA/LSAT is high) than a finance degree.
    Having said all this, would IE be good for corporate law? I realize this might not be your strong point but from your experience in law school and colleagues would this be a strong major for this area? As you can see I am much more interested in business and coporate law, and although I do have interest in Patent law, I would rather get into the corporate world.

    I realize this is a lot but I would appreciate your wisdom and thank you for your valuable time.
  25. Nov 28, 2012 #100


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    @carr92 - All I can say is that for biotech, employers are looking for those with a masters or phD (see prior discussion). I'm not sure how they feel about a PSM v. MS so I can't help you there - sorry.

    @mbl123 - I am an IE and a patent attorney. It's very similar to ME. It may be a tad harder to find a job but it is hardly impossible. Sure, IE is a good basis for many other types of law but it's my experience that your undergrad degree doesn't matter very much for the majority of legal focus areas. Employers will mainly look to your law school/your grades/experience, then throw you in a department and teach you how to do what you're hired to do.
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