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Intellectual Property Lawyer Job Description, Career as a Intellectual Property Lawyer, Salary, Employment

Definition and Nature of the Work, Education and Training Requirements, Getting the Job

Education and Training:— Advanced degree and specialized training in intellectual property law.

Salary: Median— $134,000 annually

Employment Outlook:— Good

Intellectual property lawyers deal with legal issues related to the ownership of service marks or trademarks, patents, trade secrets, and copyrights. Popularly referred to as IP lawyers, they act as legal advisors and advocates. As advisors, they provide counsel about the rights and obligations of their clients. As advocates, they represent their clients in court, and draft legal documents.

Intellectual property lawyers cater to knowledge or information producers like inventors, writers, musicians, directors, and producers. They also work for firms that have to preserve trade secrets like product formulas, designs, and production techniques. In addition, they offer advice about protection of trademarks, and, in the process, help clients create and preserve brand images.

Education and Training Requirements

Like other attorneys, intellectual property lawyers have to obtain their 4-year undergraduate degree and law school degree. After candidates get the Juris Doctor degree, they must also pass written tests administered by the bar association of the state they wish to practice in. Bars examinations in most states include a multiple-choice Multistate Bar Examination, a written ethics examination, and a Multistate Essay Examination. Some states like Maine, New York, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and Wyoming, allow candidates without law degrees to seek approval from the state’s bar association.

Applicants to law schools accredited by the American Bar Association have to take the Law School Admission Test. The test scores as well as the academic results of applicants are considered during admission to law schools. At law school, students need to opt for courses related to intellectual property. No separate certification is required to start practice as an attorney. Lawyers who wish to practice in the United States Patent and Trademark Office must pass the Examination for Registration to Practice in Patent Cases.

Getting the Job

Intellectual property lawyers are mostly employed by large corporations, universities and research institutes, as well as government agencies. Private firms specializing in intellectual property law also hire IP lawyers. Job openings are advertised not only in newspapers but on Internet job portals as well. One can also get in touch with lawyers and local businesses and look up suitable openings with them.

Advancement Possibilities and Employment Outlook

Intellectual property lawyers usually start out as associates and work under the guidance of experienced lawyers and judges. Over the years, one can get into a partnership with a law firm or even move into individual practice. With considerable experience, intellectual property lawyers can also be elected to judgeships. Those interested in academics can opt for faculty positions in law schools.

Employment opportunities for intellectual property lawyers are expected to increase by about 11% in the next ten years. The conditions will be more favorable for those with a strong academic background, commercial acumen, and business development skills.

Working Conditions

Intellectual property lawyers work in clean and comfortable offices, libraries, or courtroom. Salaried lawyers enjoy prearranged work schedules. More than 35% of salaried intellectual property lawyers work for 50 hours every week. Long hours are very common in this profession and lawyers often end up working beyond normal office hours while conducting research or preparing briefs for their cases. Lawyers in partnership firms often have to work on multiple cases at the same time and meet overlapping deadlines.

Where to Go for More Information

American Intellectual Property Law Association
241 18th Street South, Suite 700
Arlington, VA 22202

United States Patent and Trademark Office

American Bar Association
321 North Clark Street
Chicago, IL 60654-7598

Journal of Intellectual Property Law
University of Georgia School of Law
Athens, Georgia 30602-6012

Salary, Earnings and Benefits

According to the records of 2009, intellectual property lawyers in the United States reported median annual salaries of $134,000. Those in partnership firms earned about $300,000 per year. The median yearly salary was $175,000 for corporate lawyers, and $160,000 for independent lawyers. First-year associates earned about $125,000 per annum while the salaries of associates were $137,000 per year.

Intellectual property lawyers who are employed by corporations enjoy benefits like healthcare and life insurance, and pensions. Those who practice privately have to arrange for such expenses on their own.

Additional topics

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