Pick the Right Intellectual Property Law Program

By: Ilana Kowarski

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.

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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.

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"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.

1. Key courses: When exploring potential law schools, experts suggest reviewing the available IP courses. Students should make sure they can take courses on how to apply for a patent, challenge a patent and file a lawsuit alleging the violation of a patent, experts say.

Experts also advise students to look for a comparative IP law course that discusses how U.S. law on this topic differs from that of other countries. This is marketable knowledge, they say, because prospective lawyers can use this information as attorneys for multinational firms that require patents, copyrights and trademarks in multiple countries.

Benjamin Katzenellenbogen, partner and chair of the recruiting committee at the Knobbe Martens IP law firm, says future business lawyers also need to take IP courses so they can understand and flag potential problems for the companies they represent.

2. Specific training: Experts say another sign of an exceptional IP law program is whether it allows students to gain field experience through clinics, practicums, externships, clerkships or internships.

Applicants should target schools with experiential learning opportunities in the specific area of IP law that they are most interested in, whether that's trademarks, patents, trade secrets or copyrights. It's also valuable, experts say, to write for an IP law journal and publish articles on a particular specialty within intellectual property, so applicants should target schools with these types of legal writing opportunities.

Kappes also recommends prospective law students look for IP law programs that participate in the United States Patent and Trademark Office's Law School Clinic Certification Program. This allows students to help with federal patent or trademark applications if they are supervised by a licensed patent or trademark attorney.

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3. Networking opportunities: Finally, be sure not to overlook a law school's networking avenues. Waukeshia Jackson, managing partner of the Jackson & Lowe Law Group, says it's ideal to attend a law school that has solid recruiting relationships with various, local IP law firms.

“That’s going to give you an opportunity to gain experience whether it’s working over the summer or having an externship or internship with the company or with the firm," she says.

Jackson says it's also good if the law school has an active community of local IP alumni who attend networking events.

“You can start developing those relationships early on, so if there’s a community of IP professionals in and around the law school, that is definitely going to allow you to make connections early on and to be able to maybe get a mentor," she says.

Source >> https://www.usnews.com/education/best-graduate-schools/top-law-schools/articles/2017-09-28/identify-the-right-law-school-for-an-intellectual-property-law-career