Pick the Right Intellectual Property Law Program

By Ilana Kowarski, Reporter 

Intellectual property plays a critical role in American life. According to a U.S. Patent and Trademark Office report, IP industries account for more than 38 percent of the gross domestic product.
It's no surprise then that intellectual property law – which protects people's ownership claims to their ideas, inventions and works of art – is a growing field.
Intellectual property attorneys say their skills are in demand, and experts note there are opportunities to practice IP law within any industry that involves human creativity. This means a wide array of commercial legal jobs, particularly in the rapidly expanding high-tech sector, and jobs that involve international litigation to resolve the significant number of disputes between U.S. and international companies.
[Discover what a typical day is like for an intellectual property attorney.]
This legal field is likewise becoming more central to important U.S. policy disputes, IP attorneys say. Jon Kappes, a patent lawyer and lecturer at Arizona State University's Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law, says "IP law, particularly patent law but also copyright and trademark, has in recent years become one of the most dynamic areas of the law."
Kappes says congressional members regularly propose revisions to the nation's IP laws, and there are a growing number of Supreme Court cases on this topic.
For law school hopefuls who enjoy science, art or entertainment, experts say this discipline may be an attractive option. IP law is also essential for future business attorneys to fully understand, since patents, copyrights, trade secrets and trademarks are invaluable to businesses.
[Consider a legal career focusing on either health care or intellectual property.]
"If students are interested in sort of a rapidly changing, cutting-edge area of practice, I can’t think of one that is evolving at the rate of intellectual property," he says.
Experts say that law schools vary in how well they prepare students to practice IP law. Here are three signs of a strong intellectual property law program.