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I Just Earned My Ph.D. and Want to Be a Patent Agent - Why Am I Not Hearing Back from Firms?

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Summary: Besides a Ph.D., find out what law firms are usually looking for when selecting a new patent agent in this Q & A article.
 
How can you get a job as a patent agent at a law firm?

Question: I recently got my Ph.D. and would like to become a patent agent, but am not getting any traction from applying to law firms – why is this?
 
Answer: A lot of folks who have worked extremely hard to earn a Ph.D. from a top institution find themselves not quite sure of their next career move once they have received their terminal degree. Some go into academia, some go on to research labs and institutions, some work in the research and development divisions of private science, medical, or technology companies, and some decide that they’d like to enter the patent world.
 
For this latter group, the decision is often sparked not by a particular passion for or prior interest in practicing patent law – it is simply something they know other Ph.D. holders have done, and are drawn to the steady paycheck being a technical specialist and/or patent agent represents. We get a lot of candidates who have a notion they want to be a patent agent, but do not have a strong idea of exactly what that entails. And in a number of instances, they find that the practice either does not suit them (the law firm world is very different from academia and research – it is a commoditized, profit-driven enterprise with tight deadlines, demanding clients, and long hours), or that the very specialized technical writing of patent applications does not line up with their skill set or expectations, and as a consequence they leave the practice after a short period of time for other ventures.
 

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