An intellectual property (IP) attorney is a lawyer who practices trademark, copyright, and patent law. Registered patent attorneys collaborate with inventors to record and prosecute patent infringement cases—legal rights granted for an invention. Entrepreneurs, creative people, and inventors have their legal intellectual property rights protected by intellectual property law.
This law, also known as patent law, governs who may use creative works such as artwork, designs, music, literary works, and new products. If you’re interested in intellectual property law, here’s how you can get started.
Earn a bachelor’s degree in any field.
A bachelor’s degree is the first step toward admission to law school. Although most law schools do not have a specific major requirement, it is recommended to get something related to your field of interest. If you’re interested in copyright law, for instance, consider leaning toward a degree in creative writing, literature, English, or music.
If you need help with your college application essays, picking a major, or finding a college to apply to, consider working with a college admissions counselor. A skilled college counselor will guide you through the entire college admissions process to help you increase your chances of college admission. If you need help finding a counselor, a quick “college admissions counselor near me” Google search can help.
Prep for the Law School Admission Test (LSAT).
Before they can admit you, every American Bar Association-compliant law school will require you to take and pass the LSAT. The LSAT exam tests an individual’s verbal reasoning and reading skills, which are necessary skills for a lawyer to have. The test has an essay section and five multiple-choice sections, with each section taking about 35 minutes to complete.
The best way to study for your LSAT exam is by finding out your dream school’s minimum LSAT score requirement. By doing this, you’ll have an idea of what score you’ll be working toward. There are several resources available to help you study, with the most common being private tutors and online practice tests.
Work toward a law degree.
As a law student, your first year of law school will involve foundational courses such as civil procedures, legal writing, and contracts. Besides being a prerequisite for other courses, you can also expect to be tested on these questions during the bar exam.
In your second and third years of law school, you can begin to focus on specific areas of intellectual property law. Depending on your area of interest, some of the courses you may take may involve preparing intellectual property licenses, intellectual property rights, trade secrets, entertainment law, music publishing, and unfair trade competition, to mention a few.
Getting hands-on experience can help you gain a better understanding of the course material, so consider interning at a local law firm. This will also be a great way to meet and network with established patent attorneys. Besides working as a part-time associate, volunteering at a legal clinic that offers free legal services for creators is another way you can get some work experience.
Pass the state bar exam.
The bar exam tests your knowledge of local and national laws and is a statewide requirement. Luckily, you can retake the test if you don’t pass on your first try, and there are several resources to help with exam prep. Once you feel confident, register and book an exam date.
If your work as an intern or associate didn’t manage to get you a job offer, there are other ways to get started in the legal industry. To start, join your local state bar association and the American Intellectual Property Law Association. These groups have regular events and mixers that can help you meet other lawyers in the industry. Their job boards also have great opportunities for first-time patent lawyers.
If you apply yourself to your studies, get licensed, and use your networks, starting a career in IP law should be easy. Best of luck to you.