official info from the uspto
ip career info
archived patent bar exams
Questions you should ask law schools if you want to pursue patent law as a career.
- Does the school have an intellectual property law program?
- If it has an intellectual property law program is it focused on patent law? Many law
schools have intellectual property programs that only focus on copyright and trademark law.
- Who teaches patent law? Many law schools have no full time faculty devoted to teaching
patent law. They merely have a local patent attorney teach the course on a part time basis.
- If a full time faculty member teaches patent law is the professor a registered patent
attorney? Very few attorneys are registered patent attorneys. As a result only a very small number
of full time professors teaching patent law are registered patent attorneys.
- If a full time faculty member teaches patent law does the professor have legal experience working as a
- Does the law school have a part time evening law program? Most law schools only have full
time day programs (typically three year programs). Many law firms employ law students seeking to become patent
attorneys while they are attending law school. They are typically called technical specialists (tech specs). Many law
firms require tech specs to work full time and attend a part time evening law school program (typically four year
programs). Annual salaries for tech specs can range from $75,000 to $120,000 depending upon
the tech specs' technical background and the geographic location of the law firm. Some law firms will also pay
full law school tuition for tech specs attending law School part time in the evening.
- How many intellectual property law courses and how many patent law courses are
offered? It is important that courses are available that offer a theoretical grounding in the
various areas of intellectual property law including patent law, copyright law, trademark law and trade secrets law. It
is also important that both theoretical and practical courses are available. For example, a basic patent law course
exploring the overall area of patent law plus skills courses devoted to practicing before the U.S. Patent & Trademark
Office, patent claim drafting asnd patent litigation.
- How often are intellectual property law courses and patent law courses offered? It
is important that courses are offered at least every year and preferably every semester. This insures you will be able
to take the courses in addition to the numerous other law courses you will need to take to complete your law degree.
- How many graduates of the school are practicing patent attorneys? This is important
for obtaining employment because alums can be a excellent resource for networking. Additionally, the
number of graduates employed as patent attorneys is an indicator of the strength and reputation of the program.
- Does the law school have someone with expertise in the field of patent law who can provide career
advice with regard to seeking employment as a patent attorney? Patent law is a highly specialized
area of law that has its own norms and customs. Much of the conventional advice about seeking legal employment is
not applicable to the field of patent law.