It has not been easy recently for available lawyers to find employment. In 2011, for example, nearly half of all Law School graduates could not land a job in their chosen profession. When there’s a glut of lawyers, there are scant few openings.
Still, that means at least half of you are finding jobs. Why? Credentials. The more credentials you have, the more in-demand you are. Patent Lawyers either work for a law firm or in-house at a company, or they work for themselves and represent their own clients. Starting salaries are well above the norm, and can top $300,000 per year for those with some experience.
Meantime, the University of Denver Sturm College of Law says analysts tend to look at national employment figures, when some locations (including Colorado) expect to have more than one job opening for each graduate.
Bottom line: employers are looking for—and are hiring—the right people with the right credentials. In one month since mid-June, Patently-O has added 42 listings for patent attorneys and agents, in numerous locations including California, Florida, Minnesota, Nevada, New York, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas and Virginia.
A Baltimore, MD, law professor with extensive experience in patent law has written that he’d like to see any US lawyer qualify to sit for the Patent Bar Exam, essentially removing the existing restriction to only those in specific STEM fields. Is that likely to happen? A co-director of the Center for Intellectual Property and Entrepreneurship doesn’t think so.
Writing for Patently-O, University of Missouri School of Law Professor Dennis Crouch says the courts and Congress, together with the USPTO, intentionally shifted focus over the years toward detailed technological improvement, rather than a more abstract notion of an invention.
“My experience is that a technology-savvy patent attorney will be better able to cost-effectively understand the important technological details,” Crouch writes. “The technological-education requirement of the patent bar places one hurdle in that framework, but the market continues to operate in this area as well. For instance, many companies only hire patent attorneys with relevant experience in the appropriate technological area and don’t simply rely upon the ‘patent attorney’ status as a total qualifier.”
Bio Careers® for post-graduate Life Scientists says there is a “substantial need” among pharmaceutical and biotech companies for professionals who are registered to practice before the USPTO.
J. G. Hilton specialist Robert Hagan says some scientists prefer to prepare for and take the Patent Bar Exam before they attend law school. “For those who pass and become patent agents,” Hagan writes, “it provides a good opportunity to experience the practice of patent law before making the decision to attend law school.” If patent agents then choose to pursue the law degree, “it may provide a great opportunity to work part-time during law school, or even work full-time while attending law school on a part-time basis.”
Hagan says a good home-study course like PatBar® Patent Bar PREP is particularly beneficial for students with existing work and school schedules, allowing them to digest the material and prepare at their own pace to sit for the Exam.