What Type of Law Do You Do? Part One


Intellectual Property--"A category of intangible rights protecting commercially valuable products of the human intellect.  This category comprises primarily trademark, copyright, and patent rights, but also includes trade-secret rights, publicity rights, moral rights, and rights against unfair competition.”

-Black’s Law Dictionary


Today was a very eventful day.  I got cold-called on in my Civ Pro class for the first time, tabled for Barbri, and attended a practice area roundtable.  At my school, all 1Ls are required to attend three of these round tables to see what practitioners in that particular field do for their jobs. For these sessions, I’ll talk a little bit about what the attorneys discussed when it came to their jobs and give you some insight into what a career in that field is like!  Today was the first of the ones I’m attending and focused on Intellectual Property.

In intellectual property practice, there are four different areas:  patents, trademarks, copyrights, and trade secrets.  Patent prosecution requires the passage of another bar, the patent bar, and those with a specific number of science and engineering credits can take.  If you have a science related background and even have any interest in doing patent work, multiple people have indicated that this is a great addition to your resume.  The patent bar is a one-time event, which doesn’t require any additional learning credits like the traditional bar does.  Another nice thing about the patent bar is you don’t have to have completed your JD to take it.  A student from one of the schools I visited told me he took the patent bar prior to entering law school and practiced patent prosecution on the side during school.

For the other types of IP work, there’s no required background other than the JD you receive at the end of your three years in law school.  For all of these areas, there are two main avenues of practice:  litigation and prosecution.  The litigation work is mostly like other areas of litigation but companies are typically suing other companies or individuals in order to get them to stop using something similar to their intellectual property.  Prosecution work typically focuses on filing the paperwork required to grant the issuance of a trademark, patent, or copyright.

IP attorneys work in a variety of different settings.  Some work in boutique IP firms, general practice firms, in-house counsel, or even the Patent and Trademark Office.  All vary with the type of work an attorney performs.  In boutique IP firms, attorneys typically work in specialized areas while IP attorneys in general firms work on a variety of projects in different areas.  The attorneys who spoke with us indicated that after three years in a law firm doing IP work, you can then typically get into any other job you want.  This is reliant on the fact not many people go into this area.

So that’s my discussion of IP work and hopefully it was helpful for you to decide if that’s of any interest to you.  Also, if you ever go to these type of events, try to get business cards from the speakers that way you can start to build your professional network!  I’ll hopefully have another post up about more of the roundtables before the end of the week.

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