Becoming a Patent Lawyer

Patent lawyers play a crucial role in protecting intellectual property and ensuring that the innovativeness of companies and individuals is not threatened. Patent law is the way that intellectual property (like inventions) are protected under the law so that they can be made profitable. This allows individuals to claim ownership to these ideas and prevent others from stealing the idea for money. Patent lawyers help determine who owns a particular idea and the best way to award compensation for ownership. Becoming a patent lawyer can be a fantastic career choice for people who enjoy engineering, inventing, and the law.

Since patent lawyers deal with two fields, becoming a patent lawyer involves learning about two fields: engineering and law. Many patent lawyers study mechanical, electrical, chemical, or civil engineering for their undergraduate degree, though engineering is not necessarily required. After undergraduate study, a prospective lawyer will take the Law School Admittance Test (“LSAT”). The LSAT score and undergraduate GPA are major factors for admittance to law school.

During law school, students take many core classes during the first year to learn the basic structure of the legal system. More specific areas like patent law are studied during the third year of law school when there are several elective classes available for choice.
The best way to learn about patent law, however, is to do summer internships at law firms that specialize in patent litigation. These internships are where contacts are cultivated. This is also where prospective attorneys learn the intimate aspects of the patent process. He or she can also develop interpersonal and office skills required to operate successfully in a law office atmosphere.


In addition to passing a state Bar examination, and being admitted to a state Bar, an individual also needs to pass the Patent bar. Past exams are available online.

After fulfilling all requirements, passing the Patent bar and being admitted to a state Bar, a patent lawyer can immediate seek employment as patent lawyer.  In order to be more effective as a patent lawyer, have greater chances of employment, and increased salary potential, however, it is possible to work as an engineer for a few years before working in the legal field. This work experience usually allows the individual to become well acquainted with engineering processes, which can give him or her an edge in litigating deals about engineering. This means that when you are ready to enter the legal field, you have a much higher chance of being hired in a desirable position.

Patent lawyers tend to be even more highly paid than lawyers in other practice areas. The average starting salary can be as high as $150,000. For someone with engineering experience and other desirable traits, the salary may reach the $200,000 level.