Many biotechnology patent attorneys work for law firms that focus on biotechnology patent law or intellectual property law, although some practice at firms that offer a wider range of legal specialties. Other lawyers practice at larger biotechnology corporations that hire their own in-house counsels, or at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office itself. For all biotechnology patent lawyers, however, the work environment tends to be formal and often intense, since the amount of money at issue in biotechnology patent suits is usually substantial. Biotechnology patent law tends to be most active in areas where the industry itself is strong; currently, these areas include Boston, San Francisco, San Diego, and Washington, D.C.
Internships and clerkships are often good ways to gain experience and enter the law field. Like other patent lawyers, you may want to apply for a clerkship in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington, D.C. To gain a clerkship, you should write to the judge while you are still in law school. Another option is to get a job at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Finally, many law firms recruit people right out of law school. Your law school should have a career services office as well as offer you professional contacts through alumni that can help you find a position.
For biotechnology patent lawyers who excel at combining verbal and scientific skills, advancement can be rapid and exciting. It is not uncommon for lawyers with Ph.D.s in genetic engineering or related fields to find themselves flooded with clients. The most successful of these lawyers can hope to advance to partner positions at their firms or even to establish a sufficient client base with which to start their own firms. Others may become professors.
Working as a law intern or law clerk can provide you with experience and valuable industry contacts that could lead to a permanent job.
Visit the Web sites of law firms that specialize in biotechnology patent law to access job listings.
Network at state and national bar association career events, conferences, and seminars.
Join professional associations such as the National Association of Patent Practitioners (NAPP) and the American Bar Association to access training and networking opportunities, industry publications, and employment opportunities.
Visit the following Web sites for job listings: