Patent lawyers get drafted out of law school like it’s the NFL Draft—seriously. Why? Demand. Now more than ever technological advances have catapulted patent law to the forefront of legal demand. When a business needs a new product protected from competitors, they turn to patent lawyers. So what makes patent lawyers so special? They have a science background. Yep, that’s it.
So are you eligible to become a patent attorney? This question can be answered right out of college if you’ve taken enough of the right classes. But, do you WANT to be a patent attorney? This you’ll have to answer on your own, but I’ll provide some guidance as to what to expect.
Are you patent bar eligible? In order to become patent bar eligible, generally speaking, you must have majored in a science or technology related field or taken enough classes to fulfill certain requirements. I will not provide an exhaustive background of the classes to take or the degrees that will get you there. You can find an exhaustive list here. Suffice it to say if you have a chemistry, biology, technology, physics or engineering degree then you’re probably eligible to take the patent bar.
Benefits of becoming a patent attorney. There are two big reasons to become a patent attorney—the job market and pay. The field of law is saturated with lawyers. There are just too many lawyers for the market to absorb. That’s not the case, however, with patent law. Intellectual property law firms are hungry for young patent attorneys. So much so that in the last year, 15 of 18 patent eligible students were “drafted” right out of a local law school. By drafted I mean they were offered jobs significantly before graduation and the students were sought out by law firms, not the other way around. Second, the pay is lucrative to say the least. It’s not uncommon for a patent attorney to make $150,000.00 his/her first year on the job.
Does technical stuff trip your trigger? If not, look elsewhere. Patent work can be grueling and boring. Often times you’re comparing arbitrary product descriptions to one another and making arguments based on those comparisons. If you’re extremely detail oriented and love technical language, patent law may be for you.
Job security. Job security for patent attorneys might be the best in the business. Right now that is. However, patent law has been receiving considerable scrutiny from some of the brightest minds in the country. Some argue that patent law is impeding competition in the market place by increasing the cost of market entry. Why? Well businesses wanting to bring new products to the market place now have to worry about infringing on another business’ patent. And if they do infringe, they often get hit with enormous damages. Thus, we may seem some reform in patent law over the next several decades. But, rest assured, it will not be soon.
The preceding is not an exhaustive list. I would insist that you speak with a patent attorney to find out what exactly he/she does on a daily basis. You may, or may not, like what you see.