How to Become an Intellectual Property Lawyer

Intellectual property lawyers are professionals who deal with legal issues related to patents, trademarks, trade secrets, and copyrights. According to the American Bar Association, this field has remained strong in recent years and is expected to grow due to the increasing demand for intellectual property litigation. The tech industry has boosted the need for intellectual property law, making the field both challenging and exciting.

How to Become an Intellectual Property Lawyer

If you have decided to become an intellectual property lawyer, the first thing you need to do is familiarize yourself with the requirements of the field. Not only will you need to equip yourself with a law degree, but must also build the skills needed for the profession. Here are the basic steps you will need to become an intellectual property lawyer.

1. Get a Bachelor Degree

The first step is to get an undergraduate degree. You cannot get into a law school without completing a bachelor degree first. While law schools do not require specific majors, applicants with legal studies, political science, and business administration background are preferred by law schools.

2. Take the LSAT

All ABA approved law schools require LSAT score submission. The exam is conducted by the Law School Admission Council, and is designed to test an applicant’s reasoning skills, reading comprehension, and logical skills.

3. Get a Law Degree

The next step is to enroll in a law degree program. You can choose from different law programs such as the Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree or the Master of Laws (LL.M.) degree. J.D. programs are the most commonly pursued law programs.

A Juris Doctor degree will equip you with legal knowledge and skills. You will gain in-depth knowledge on the US legal system. During the initial semesters, you will focus on fundamental areas of law. Further in the program, it is recommended that you choose courses related to intellectual property. Here are some important areas you will cover in the first two years of the degree: • Constitutional law • Civil law • Tort • Criminal law • Intellectual property law

4. Get a License to Practice

Without a license, practicing as a lawyer is not allowed in any state. Once you have completed your law degree, you can take a state’s bar examination. However, this license will only permit you to practice law in that particular state. You will also have to pass the Patent Bar Examination offered by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). This exam is necessary to pass if you are representing clients before the U.S. Patent Office. The Patent Bar Examination is fully computerized and comprises of multiple choice questions. You must score at least 70% to pass the exam.

5. Get Work Experience

As a newly licensed lawyer, you can begin your career by working in a law firm that specializes in intellectual property. On the other hand, you can also consider setting up your own law firm. Gaining work experience can help you learn about the profession, recent developments, and acquire hands on experience.

How Long Does It Take To Become an Intellectual Property Lawyer?

Typically, it takes around 7 years to prepare for the career of a lawyer. After getting your high school diploma, you will spend 4 years in an undergraduate program, and 3 years at law school. The duration can vary depending upon the academic route you choose.

What Skills Do You Need?

As a lawyer, having only formal education isn’t enough. The legal field can be demanding, requiring you to stay up-to-date, determined, and convincing. The following skills can be a plus for you: • Strong communication skills • Legal terminology skills • Reasoning skills • Verbal skills • Analysis skills • Critical-thinking skills • Interpersonal skills

How Much Can You Earn As an intellectual Property Lawyer?

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, lawyers made a median annual income of $113,530 in 2012. Over 74,000 new job opening are expected from 2012-2022. The exact income will depend upon factors such as experience, state, employer organization, and skill set. The top 10% earned over $187,200 whereas the bottom 10% earned less than $54,310.

Where Can You Work?

Approximately 49% of lawyers work in law firms, while the remaining can be found working in the government, finance and insurance sectors. The American Intellectual Property Law Association (AIPLA) is a renowned organization that promotes the field of intellectual property law, provides advocacy services, and education in the field.

Job Duties

As a practicing intellectual property lawyer, your main job duties will be: • Advising clients on legal matters and issues • Conducting research for cases • Representing clients in court • Presenting facts and arguments in court • Interpreting law related to the field

Career Advancement

The field of intellectual property is growing fast, and opening up many new jobs. As an intellectual property lawyer, you can move up the corporate ladder, with more work experience, certifications, and training. Some lawyers advance their career and move on to become judges.