When most people think of attorneys, they think of a lawyer who is a part of a law firm or in private practice. While this is true in a lot of cases, there are other job opportunities available for patent attorneys out there. You just have to do your research to find them.
The United States government is considered to be the largest employer in America. The three branches of government employ people in almost all professions, from cooks to teachers to scientists to lawyers. The best place for a patent lawyer to find employment is with the United States Patent and Trademark Office, or USPTO. The USPTO is the government office that issues, patents, trademarks, and intellectual property rights. A person who holds a patent law degree can also become a trademark examining attorney. These attorneys determine if a trademark should be granted.
Patent firms are essentially a law firm that only handles patent issues. These firms could be small or large, and they can choose an area of specialty, such as design patents. When searching for a patent firm for employment opportunities, be sure to find out if they have a specialty that is compatible with yours. Or, if you find a firm that really interests you, find out if they do not have a particular science specialty that you have, if they would be willing to add your expertise and knowledge as an additional resource to open new avenues of business for them.
If you are really industrious, you can establish yourself as a private practice patent attorney. Of course, you will be undertaking a risk as with any business venture. You will have to establish a good marketing plan and business plan first. You can do this while you are still in law school. Some semiretired and retired lawyers do not mind helping out a newly minted attorney with clients and referrals. You can contact your local Chamber of Commerce to find out the permits and any other business licensure you may need in order to practice patent law in your area.
Some attorneys have opted to take a break from being a lawyer and choose to find jobs that are related to their undergraduate degree. Some people who hold chemistry degrees went on to become patent lawyers, then chose to find work in the chemical industry. Usually in a bad economy, this transition from lawyer to non-lawyer is most prevalent. As long as you keep your bar standing intact and keep abreast of patent law changes, you can return to…