Our Featured Sponsor:
Our Featured Sponsor

Subscribe

It’s Free. It’s Quick.

Career and life game changing information delivered personally to you.

Great advice from The Lawyer Whisperer

April 24, 2018
Question

I am a commercial litigation associate and want to transition to IP litigation.  Do I need a technical degree to make the switch?

answer
Julie Q. Brush

Need? No. But would the technical degree make you more marketable for IP litigation opportunities in the market today? Yes. Particularly if you possessed an electrical engineering (EE) or computer science (CS) degree.

With that said, a technical background is not a hard requirement to transition to an IP litigation practice or to be a successful IP litigator.  In fact, many of the finest IP litigators practicing today do not possess technical backgrounds.  It’s important to note; however that these partners do have a team of technical lawyers on deck to assist with cases and participate in pitches for business.  So make no bones about it, the technical expertise is an essential part of a successful IP litigation practice.

There are different categories that fall under the umbrella of IP Litigation. These include: patent, copyright and trademark; and some types of breach of contract licensing cases.  An IP practice can encompass one single area or a mix of several.  Typically, it’s a blend.  And the more senior a lawyer gets, the more diverse his/her practice might become.  So as you contemplate your practice shift, educate yourself and understand what the different IP litigation areas are all about. This will help guide you towards an effective career strategy and opportunities that will be the best fit.

The current market for IP litigation associates is fairly active, but the majority of these opportunities require a technical degree.  Consequently, you will encounter some hurdles in switching practices with a flip of a switch.  However, some firms with IP litigation needs may be more willing to consider you as a retool and hire you without the tech degree if your credentials are off the charts and you are coming from a prestigious law firm.  But even in this scenario, it will be challenging in today’s market.  Despite this landscape, I still encourage you to apply for such positions and see what the market tells you.

Your best bet is to move to a firm where you can leverage your current expertise and receive some IP litigation experience as well.  You’ll be more marketable for these opportunities.  This practice transition will be more gradual, but it will set you on the right path. When considering such opportunities, make sure the firm has a real and credible IP litigation practice and will support your desire to work on IP cases.  Otherwise, you could find yourself staffed on that big insurance defense case that just came in the door.

Your ability to successfully transition your practice will depend on many factors, but it is doable.  The current legal market is active so opportunities exist.  And while law firms are placing premiums on technical backgrounds, there are circumstances that will allow you to develop your IP practice without one.  It won’t be easy, but with an understanding of the practice, a clear strategy and execution, you’ll increase your chances of making a smooth transition.

Like this
Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on LinkedInShare on Google+
Comments

No Comments have been posted.

No Comments

Please login or join now to ask your question

 

New Jobs Feature!

Check it Out

Are you an Employer?

Post a job for free! Take advantage of this promotion and advertise your job for 30 days. Use promo code LWJOBS

Kudos From Our Fans

Julie has been a great partner and trusted advisor to me over many years. The Lawyer Whisperer is a terrific resource, whether you are new to the profession or a seasoned counsel.

Matt Fawcett General Counsel, NetApp,
The Lawyer Whisperer is required reading for any lawyer who wants to be thoughtful about their career.

Sharon Zezima General Counsel, GoPro,
Great insights on career planning that help me talk with our associates and IH counsel who are thinking about a transition.

Ken King Partner, Skadden Arps,
The Lawyer Whisperer posts are always wise, thoughtful, well written and leave you with new ideas - I try not to miss a post.

Shanti Ariker SVP, General Counsel, Salesforce.org,
No one understands the changing profession better than Julie. She is a proven ally to those of us trying to forge new paths and push the boundaries of what is possible in a legal career.

Eric Lentell Vice President, Legal, FitBit,
Julie is the Dear Abby for lawyers. Her column is one of a kind.

Karineh Khachatourian Partner, Duane Morris,

Subscribe

Receive our newsletter for latest trends, compensation info and secrets to a winning career strategy.

This Week's Questions:

No new questions this week

Our Sponsors

logo



The Lawyer Whisperer Sponsors :

Solutus Legal Logo