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Top 10 Reasons Most Law Firms Have No Idea How to Hire and Evaluate Patent Attorneys
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Why do so many patent attorneys have issues finding work in big law firms? Harrison Barnes explores possible reasons.

Summary: Why do so many patent attorneys have issues finding work in big law firms? Harrison Barnes explores possible reasons.

In a recent article, Top 10 Reasons Most Law Firms Have No Idea How to Hire and Evaluate Patent AttorneysHarrison Barnes explores the reasons why many law firms have no idea how to hire and evaluate patent attorneys. In the past, most patent attorneys practiced in small, patent-only law firms. However, this is no longer the case. Now more and more big firms need patent attorneys to help them with certain intellectual property matters. But for many reasons, firms do not take the time to carefully study these attorneys’ credentials and may dismiss many qualified candidates. Fortunately there are good law firms out there that see the value in patent attorneys.


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The first issue is patent attorneys may not worry about what law school they attend. They take such difficult courses as an undergraduate student that they may not have the 4.0 GPAs that top law schools require. However, many law firms skim over this issue because there are so few patent attorneys in the first place that where they attended school may not matter as much.

The second issue is that patent attorneys may not push themselves to join all of the same extracurricular activities that their peers do, such as law reviews and journals. They may not even worry about their grades as much. While grades matter very much for other types of legal careers, they do not matter so much for patent attorneys. Since patent attorneys must qualify for and pass a specialized patent bar, reaching this milestone may be sufficient for many firms.

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Patent attorneys are also usually older than other attorneys, because becoming an attorney may be a second career for them. However, good law firms understand that older attorneys, who may have families and may not work as many hours, are just as dedicated to the work and actually do not need to work as much to bring money into the firm.

Many patent attorneys bomb their interviews at general practice firms. They may not connect with the more “polished” partners who are interviewing them. Good firms, of course, understand that these patent attorneys are being paid to do the work of scientists, not the work of a normal attorney. Therefore, if personalities do not perfectly click, it is okay.

Some patent attorneys may experience disputes with each other, and may even hold grudges for some time. In fact, they may be downright vicious toward each other. Many law firms, however, overlook this characteristic so long as the patent attorneys get the work done.

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Patent attorneys may also be unemployed for some time or may “firm hop.” They treat practicing law as any other job, and do not feel a significant amount of loyalty to a firm, as other attorneys typically do. They may also move often because they start off in low-paying positions and work their way up. Also, their work is so specialized that they may have to leave one job for another if that is where the work is. Many firms are open-minded about these patterns and welcome the patent attorneys onboard.

It is also common for patent attorneys to go in-house for a while. This move is considered career suicide by many. However, for patent attorneys, they actually increase their skills while working in-house, and smart law firms understand how valuable this experience is for them.

Patent attorneys may also work as solo practitioners for a while. Since many of them change jobs so often, they may work on their own for a while. Many large firms look down upon solo practices, because it may appear that the attorney was “cast out” from a group. However, most firms understand that for patent attorneys, working as a solo practitioner for a while does not carry the same negative connotations that it may for other attorneys.

Patent attorneys are also often picky about their work and how they spend their time. Therefore they do not always follow the “rules” of certain law firms. Fortunately, many firms understand that patent attorneys need to be accommodated more than other attorneys, and will offer to do so to hire them.

Why do some attorneys have a hard time succeeding in law firms?

Patent attorneys may also seem not as ambitious as others. They are not as interested in the prestige and fat paychecks as other attorneys may be. Many law firms, fortunately, understand how patent attorneys are motivated, and will ensure that the firm is a good fit.

For the entire article, which includes much more detail about what makes patent attorneys tick, head over to BCG Search to read Top 10 Reasons Most Law Firms Have No Idea How to Hire and Evaluate Patent Attorneys.

Source: BCGSearch

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