What You Need to Know About the Fundamentals of Engineering Exam

While this site focuses on the Patent Bar exam, there are many other professional exams that may pertain to you and advance your career.

As an example, you may be eligible to take the Fundamentals of Engineering Examination or FE exam. If you’re not interested in a career in patent law, but want to continue on the road to a great career in engineering, this exam may be a better fit for you. If so, we hope this article helps you navigate the FE exam.

For many, the Fundamentals of Engineering Examination (FE) is the first exam and the first stepping stone along your journey to becoming a Professional Licensed Engineer (P.E.). In some states, it’s called the Engineer in Training exam (EIT).

It’s an unfortunate necessity that will further your future engineering career. It looks great on a resume for an unpaid internship and it gives you the shove (and the confidence) to complete your other exam.

You’ve taken the time, dedication, and tuition money to become a professional and make a difference. It’s important for you to know all you can about the exam beforehand.

As it is a little more than a bunch of simple multiple-choice questions, this article will cover the basics of preparing yourself for the engineering FE exam.

The Basics of the FE Exam

Where Do I Take the FE Exam?

The National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES) is responsible for administering the FE exam. The NCEES is a nonprofit organization. They create and score the exams needed to become either a professional engineer or surveyor.

In order to schedule and take the FE test, you must create an account on the MyNCEES. You can schedule your test but that doesn’t mean it’s always available when you want to take it, in your area.

To register for the FE exam, you have to sign into your MyNCEES account. There will be an option to register followed by instructions on how to finish registering and how to sign up for an exam date and location.

You can find a test area near you right here. There are locations spread all across the United States.

The exam is entirely computer-based and multiple choice. There are 110 questions to answer and it’s a 6-hour test including a 25-minute break.

There’s also a tutorial before the exam and a survey you take after the exam. These are included in the 6 hours.

You can download the NCEES Handbook for free through your MyNCEES account to help you study for the exam but it will also be available during testing. You can view the handbook on a split screen while taking your test.

Who can take the FE Exam?

To take the FE exam you need to either have recently graduated with an engineering degree from an EAC/ABET accredited program or be close to graduating and in your final year of school.

There are special instances (though rare) where you can bypass the required education if you have enough work experience on your belt.

Does it Cost to Take the FE Exam?

Yes, there is a test fee of $225. You can pay the fee through your MyNCEES account. Beware, there are states that may make you pay an application fee just to take the exam.

What’s on the FE Exam?

Back in the day, the test had a variety of questions in a variety of specializations. In 2015, this changed. They updated to the FE exam to focus on your specialization.

The main individual specialized tests include Chemical, Civil, Electrical and Computer, Environmental, Industrial, Mechanical, and a separate exam for Other Disciplines.

What Score Do I Need to Pass the FE Exam?

The score to pass the FE exam varies from specialization to specialization.

The NCEES doesn’t have an exact exam rate on their website because they use a different scale system. You get graded on each question you answer right. Thankfully, if you answer a question wrong it won’t count against you whatsoever.

To pass, you can estimate that you will need to answer over half the questions correctly.

These are the average scores of those who took the FE exam for the first time:

  • Chemical FE Exam: 70%
  • Civil FE Exam: 68%
  • Electrical and Computer FE Exam: 70%
  • Environmental FE Exam: 78%
  • Industrial FE Exam: 72%
  • Mechanical FE Exam: 80%
  • Other Disciplines FE Exam: 81%

You will receive your exam scores 7 to 10 days after taking it. You will receive an email that tells you how to check your score on your MyNCEES account.

They break down the exam into several areas. It will show how well (or how badly) you did in each area. If you fail, this gives you an idea of what areas you’re lacking in and what to study for next time.

Can I Bring Anything with Me to the FE Exam?

You will need a government-issued ID to take the FE exam, like a driver’s license or passport. This is to ensure that you are who you say you are. Your name on your ID must match the name you scheduled under and the photo must clearly be you.

It’s not required but it’s advised to bring a print out of your confirmation for your scheduled exam appointment. This is to protect you from any mistakes made and to make sure you get in to take the exam.

You’re not allowed to bring any writing utensils or paper to the exam. They will provide you with pencils and you can use an exam booklet for scratch paper if you need to.

You can bring a calculator but it must be an NCEES approved calculator model. They have a list of  approved calculators. There is a strict policy on calculators to prevent cheating.

The NCEES Handbook will be available to you for reference throughout the exam.

You are allowed ear buds or noise-canceling headphones if you need them to fight distraction.

Conclusion

With the right testing techniques and the right study habits, you can pass the FE exam with flying colors. This article will help you be prepared so you won’t feel lost when you go to take the exam.

Don’t just rely on using the NCEES Handbook while you’re taking the test. This will eat up your time if you have to search for help with every question. Download your free copy and study, study, study!

3 Tips for Finding a Summer Job at a Patent Law Firm

As most first-year law students know, getting your foot in the door at a patent law firm and looking at your first real intellectual property job can feel like a daunting task. When you’re first starting out on a summer associate program, finding a job in any field can be a hard process. You have to be able to stand out from the hundreds of other applicants at large law firms and you have to make a lasting impression on the big bosses of the firm.

By gaining on-the-job training on a summer associate program, the second summer of your law school experience can lead to opportunities further down the road like giving you an edge up on others. In addition, it can even possibly lead you to a full-time position once your school is over. So, we’ve created a list of tips to find a job this summer at a patent law firm.

What are Your Duties as a Summer Associate at a Patent Law Firm? 

First, before you take the plunge as one of the many summer associates around the country, you should have an idea of what your duties will be. Some of your duties will vary from law firm to law firm but the basic duties will remain the same.

Most summer associates get to dive head first into the application process for patents. They learn how to prepare both patent and trademark applications. They also do most of the research needed for cases.

If the law firm is as dedicated to you as you are to them, you might also be invited to attend litigations and even trials dealing with patent law.

3 Tips for Finding a Summer Associate Job

Tip # 1: Contact Your Law School’s Career Services Office

Most law schools have a career services office on campus. These offices are dedicated to helping you along your career path. A career counselor will have job listings, including summer associate positions at law firms. They can connect you with the best law firms you’re compatible with.

Career counselors will also help you create a solid resume and help you gather recommendation letters from faculty that will boost your chances of a position at a firm.

After you have everything ready and organized, most law firms require you to bid on the position. Bid on law firms that match your credentials but bid on more than one patent law firm. If you’ve taken the USPTO exam already and you passed make sure you have a copy of your certificate for law firm recruiters.

You can also apply outside of your college’s career services office. Referrals and networking are gold in law firms.

Most summer associate spots begin in May and finish at the end of July or beginning of August. It’s important you apply early. Most firms will start posting job listings in December.

Tip # 2: Have a Polished and Updated Resume

Your resume, as well as any recommendation letters you’ve acquired, will help you establish yourself. A well-polished resume is one of the major keys to impressing any law firm.

A cover letter is always appreciated. A cover letter introduces you to the firm. It gives you a chance to go into detail about your qualifications for the summer associate position and what your goals are at their firm. Your cover letter will decide if they bother to look at the rest of your resume.

If you’re a current law student, the first thing the patent law firm should see on your resume is what law school you’re attending and your grades. If your grades aren’t as great as they should be, list other qualifications or prior law work experience you have at the top, even if it was a free intern position.

Always make sure your resume is updated and double check for any grammatical errors.

Tip # 3: Be Prepared for the Interview

First, you need to research the patent law firm that’s about to interview you. You want to know all there is to know about that specific firm before you enter that room.

Does the firm work with all types of patent and trademark law? Or do they specialize in a specific field? The law firm could only deal with patent applications and another firm might focus on patent lawsuits. Alternatively, the firm might specialize in particular type of patent from software to electrical.

They need to know you have the knowledge required to do the job. If you’ve been studying with a focus on patent law, be sure the recruiters know this. They want someone who wants a career in patent law, not someone who will accept a job at any law firm.

Along with researching the firm, you want to be prepared in other ways as well. You want to exude confidence when you’re being interviewed. In order to be full of confidence, you need to be prepared.

You need to be ready for any questions they might throw your way. Most of these interviews will be done on your campus and are usually 20-minute screenings. You should also know how to articulate what you bring to their law firm, even just for a summer associate position. Don’t be afraid to highlight your strengths and qualifications.

If your interview went well, you should be called back for another interview.

A Summer Associate Position is Your Key to Future Success

Finding a summer associate position at a patent law firm takes commitment and a hard heart. Be ready for some disappointment so you know to apply for more than one position.

Despite any setbacks you may have, the experience you receive while in a summer associate position is worth the headache of finding the right summer job at a patent law firm.

How to Use Glassdoor to Find the Best Patent Law Firms to Work For

Whether you’re thinking about taking the patent bar exam or you just passed it and are ready to embark on your new career, it’s not always easy to find the patent law firm that will be the best match for you. One of the top resources out there is Glassdoor which has a wealth of information that can help you figure out the places you want to work along with any you want to avoid.

Not familiar with Glassdoor? Here’s a quick introduction about how to use it to find the right firm.

What Should You Expect When Working as a Patent Lawyer or Agent?

Before you can figure out what firms are good and which aren’t, it’s good to have a basic idea of what the job entails.

Patent law is very specialized. In fact, to become a patent agent, you have to have a degree in the science or engineering field that relates to the patents you’ll be working with. A good patent lawyer or agent will make sure that an inventor gets proper credit. When you find work as a patent lawyer, expect to spend a lot of time filling out and reviewing patent applications. One of your main roles will be assessing whether or not an invention is innovative enough to warrant a patent.

Most lawyers don’t know much about patent law. It’s an ever-changing field and those who specialize in patent law aren’t exactly plentiful. There are a few different places you can expect to find work. Some patent attorneys work at law firms that specialize in helping small businesses and individuals. Others work for large firms that serve corporate customers. It’s good to have an idea of what size firm you want to look for and keep in mind that larger firms often have more resources.

The day-to-day work consists of paperwork and research in an office setting. There are a lot of deadlines to meet and you’re often working with more than one client so the schedule can get a little hectic.

Using Glassdoor to Find the Best Firm

One of the greatest things about using Glassdoor is it gives you a lot of information you wouldn’t otherwise have access to that really makes the job hunting process a lot more transparent. It can help with the entire job hunting process, from figuring out the best places to work to negotiating your salary.

You can use Glassdoor to look for open positions just like on any job site. Search by title and location, salary range, distance, and more. For each firm, you’ll find a company overview. This includes information about where they’re headquartered, how many employees they have, when the business was founded, and their yearly revenue. You’ll also find a brief description of the business and a link to their website. This information can immediately tell you whether or not the firm is the right size for you if you have a preference between a small firm and a large one.

Next, you can see a rating of the firm on a 5-star scale in addition to statistics as to what percent of employees would recommend the company to a friend and how much they approve of the CEO.

The star ratings are gathered from employee reviews, the next section of information available. These reviews are arguably the best thing that Glassdoor has to offer. They are written by the people who work there or have worked there in the past. Generally, people don’t hold back. You can see the person’s job title, which city they work in, and the pros and cons they shared about the company. Each review also gives a snapshot of how the employee feels about the CEO, the direction of the company, and whether or not they recommend working there.

If you dig a little deeper into a firm’s profile, you can find even more details about what it’s like to work there. There is a salary breakdown of what employees make by job title, like an attorney, legal secretary, clerks, and paralegals. There’s also information available about benefits, too, like 401K packages, health insurance, as well as vacation and paid time off.

After looking at available jobs and evaluating all of the information provided in the reviews, if you decide there’s a firm you’re interested in or a job you want to apply for, there’s one more piece of information that you’ll find especially useful. Employees share questions they were asked on their interviews. While there’s no guarantee you’ll face the same ones in the event of an interview, it’s a great place to start if you want to prep.

Getting the Best Results

Glassdoor has a wealth of information but it won’t do you any good unless you use it. By reading employee reviews, you can get a feel for the kind of environment it is to work in. Are current employees happy? Or are they outnumbered by angry former employees and bad reviews? Having a positive and supportive work environment is really important and employee reviews will really give you a sense of what you can expect.

Once you determine that a firm is the right size and seems to have a staff that is happy and satisfied, use the rest of the information Glassdoor provides to learn what you can expect as a salary and benefits package. This information is also exceptionally useful if you accept a position and are entering salary negotiations because you’ll already have an idea of what they’re paying other patent attorneys or agents in the firm.

If you’re looking for the best way to help you start your career in patent law, Glassdoor is a resource that really gives you all the information you need to make the right decision.

10 Things You May Not Have Realized Were Invented in the 1980’s

Of course, the wheel and internal-combustion engine had already been invented long ago there were as yet no super modern innovations like cell phones or whichever device is in your hand right now as you read this. But so much of the cutting edge technology we depend on today got its start back in the fast-paced, big-haired, neon 1980’s. Let’s take a look at some of the groundbreaking inventions this one-of-a-kind decade brought us.

1. Disposable Cameras

First up on our list of technology invented in the 1980’s is the disposable camera. At one point in time, taking photographs meant investing in a somewhat expensive camera, learning how to use it properly, and getting all the necessary supplies like film and lenses. While professional photographers and hobbyists still preferred the real thing, disposable cameras were perfect for tourists, college students, and anyone who wanted to be able to capture moments without making a big financial investment. For years, they were the preferred choice for so many people.

2. Compact Discs and CD Players

Compact discs came along at an interesting time. Sony released the first CD player in 1982. That was the year most record companies completely phased out 8 tracks and people were primarily listening to music on vinyl and cassette. Early on, CDs themselves were pretty affordable, but the first CD players were much more affordable. Cassettes and vinyl were still available but CDs quickly became the preferred option.

3. Disposable Contact Lenses

Contact lenses used to be hard, difficult to take care of, and could be really uncomfortable. Owning a pair of hard contacts was similar to owning glasses. You wore the same pair over and over again and had to perform regular maintenance and care. If you lost one, replacing it wasn’t cheap. Although they’d been in development for a while, disposable contact lenses hit the consumer market in 1987 and changed everything. Because they’re made of out hydrogel, they’re soft, air permeable, and much more comfortable. Plus, there’s little to no upkeep since you just throw them away and replace them when the time comes.

4. Artificial Human Heart

While the research into artificial hearts started all the way back in the 1930’s, it didn’t become a reality until 1982. The Jarvik-7 artificial heart was made of plastic and metal and was initially supposed to serve as a permanent alternative to a living donor heart transplant. While the implementation didn’t go as planned, it was used as a temporary measure to buy patients a little more time when waiting for a donor organ. The Jarvik-7 itself had limited success but it did prove that it could be done, inspiring surgeons and doctors to continue advancing the technology that the medical field relies on today.

5. Mobile Phones

Believe it or not, the first mobile phones went on sale to consumers in the US in 1983. The very first was the Motorola DynaTAC. It was surprisingly ahead of its time with an LED display and the ability to store up to 30 different phone numbers. The technology had a long way to go until mobile phones could become as ubiquitous as they are today. The DynaTAC took 30 minutes to charge for only 10 minutes of talk time. Plus, the technology was prohibitively expensive. In 1984, it cost about $4,000 and was a status symbol meant for only the wealthy. That’s the equivalent of about $9,500 today.

6. Walkman

It might be hard to believe but, prior to the introduction of the Sony Walkman in 1980, the only way to listen to music on the go was with a giant battery-powered boombox. The Walkman allowed people to listen to music in private, without disturbing everyone around them or broadcasting their taste in music to everyone around them. Walkmans were so portable—you could just toss it in your bag or even clip it to your waistband. While portable CD players became popular toward the end of the decade, they still weren’t as reliable as a Walkman when on the go because they used cassette tapes, which didn’t skip or need to be held in a certain position to work. Plus, changing the playlist was as simple as popping in a new tape.

7. Personal Computers

The first computers were so massive and they took up entire floors of buildings. In the 1970’s, computing technology advanced rapidly and as miniaturization rapidly took over, the size of computers shrunk dramatically. Where there was once no way for the average person to access a computer conveniently, IBM and Apple took advantage of the new technology and introduced the first personal computers in the early 1980’s. IBM was first with the launch of the 5150 in 1981. It used in Intel 8088 processor and ran on version 1.0 of DOS. Apple soon followed with the Macintosh in 1984. The Macintosh was unique in that it used a graphics-based interface and a mouse to navigate the system instead of typing commands. It simply cannot be overstated how important the introduction of the home PC was.

8. Nintendo

While Atari introduced home gaming consoles in the 1970’s, it’s still fair to say that Nintendo changed the game entirely. The Nintendo Entertainment System, or NES, was introduced in 1985. Around this time, PCs were getting very popular and sales of regular video games tanked. Nintendo still felt that their product was unique and the games they were develop were good enough that they could compete with PC gaming. Flash forward to today and we know without a doubt that they were right.

9. Camcorder

Video cameras were originally designed for television broadcasting and were heavy and impractical for everyday use. Sony first introduced the camcorder for professional use in 1983. It eliminated the cable between the camera and recorder that crews had been working with. This made portable recording a one-person job and gave operators a lot of freedom that they didn’t have before. It wasn’t long until the first consumer camcorder was put on the market. The first versions were designed to sit on the user’s shoulder and enabled people like amateur filmmakers and college TV studios to produce recordings easily.

10. MTV

When MTV first went on the air in 1981, they played mostly music videos, which was a revolutionary concept at the time. The channel went on to boost the careers of artists for decades to come. MTV grew into a major pop culture and entertainment network that’s particularly influential to young adults, even today.

That’s our list of 10 interesting things invented in the 1980’s. Some are still in use today with refinements, while others have been completely replaced, but it’s fun to look back on what this decade brought us.

How Continuous Learning Can Help Patent Attorneys and Agents Build Confidence

In every field, continuous learning is one of the most important ways to stay on top of constantly changing rules, regulations, and standards. This is particularly true of the patent process, which is why patent attorneys and registered patent agents must remain diligent and continue educating themselves even after passing the patent bar exam.

Having a good grasp on the changes that are occurring in the field provides a stronger ability to confront any and all challenges head-on. This, in turn, leads to increased confidence and the motivation to continue being good at what you do.

What Learning is Required to become a Patent Attorney or Agent?

From the very beginning, there is a significant amount of education required to become a patent attorney or agent. If you’re new to this field, you might be wondering what the difference is between the two. A patent attorney and a patent agent fill the same general role; helping inventors gain patents. Each has taken a slightly different way of getting there and there are some differences in the options outside of patent law. That said, the one thing they have in common is that they have to pass the patent bar exam. In addition, they both have a background in science and engineering.

For an attorney, they must follow the typical trajectory for the profession. First, get an undergraduate degree in one of the specific science or engineering fields. Next, pass the LSAT and apply to and attend law school. After graduation, they can sit for the state bar exam to be licensed in their state.

To be a patent attorney, they also have to take and pass the patent bar exam. Passing the patent bar isn’t a substitute for passing the state bar. It’s something that you get in addition to it.

A patent agent has a little bit of a different path. This is someone who has not gone to law school but who has a degree and relevant experience in science, tech, or engineering. The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has a very specific list of the subjects that are acceptable. They include biochemistry, biology, food technology, and a variety of engineering specialties. With the right credentials, people with these degrees can apply and take the patent bar exam. Since a patent agent has no law degree, they can only ever work in patent law.

To review, the difference between a patent attorney and a patent agent is that the attorney has a law degree and may give legal advice as well as practice law in other fields. The patent agent doesn’t have a law degree and can’t sit for a state bar exam though they have extensive knowledge in their field of study as it relates to patent law.

Is Continuing Education Required for Patent Attorneys and Agents?

Believe it or not, there are no continuous learning requirements for patent agents. As mentioned, an attorney may have to fulfill continuing legal education (CLE) requirements in the state where they passed the bar exam and practice law, but there are no such requirements that are specific to patent law. USPTO requires that both lawyers and agents pass the patent bar exam initially, there is no follow-up education required.

Does this mean that patent attorneys and agents shouldn’t strive for continuous learning? The answer is, no. Absolutely not!

Why Is Continuous Learning Necessary?

The simple answer is this: the field of patent law is constantly changing. To be a successful and effective patent attorney or agent, you need to keep up.

One major reason why continuing education is necessary is because of new updates in the field, the biggest of which was the America Invents Act (AIA). It was put into law in 2011 and made drastic changes to the patent law system.

The biggest thing that the AIA did was shift to a system where the first person to file for a patent will be the top contender to be issued one. This is a change from the previous law which granted the patent to the first person to invent whatever the patent is being sought for.

It’s not hard to see how this can get complicated. There’s a chance that the person who files a later patent might be the rightful inventor. They can contest the patent, but there’s a lot of steps to the process.

This is one glaring example of major policy change. There would be no way to understand it and all its ramifications without engaging in serious, lengthy continuous learning. Not every change to patent law is going to span as large as the AIA but keeping up to date on changes in the industry is key to being successful.

Confidence Building through Learning

If you’re not aware of new laws, standards, and practices in the field, there’s a good chance you’re going to miss something. Only by making sure you know the ins and outs of all of the changes that are constantly happening can you be confident you’ll always be able to deliver your all at work.

Education truly is empowering. It gives you the tools you need to make the right decisions and solve problems for your company. The more you know and the more experience you have, the larger your bag of tricks will be when approaching the next problem, and the next.

Once you have confidence, it’s easy for your clients and superiors to pick up on it. You won’t make the silly mistakes that people who aren’t caught up on all the changes will. Having a lot of experience and learning to fall back on will help you throughout your career. Everything changes. It’s up to you to keep up.

Patent Paralegal Salaries

In the U.S., the average salary for a Patent Paralegal is $52,351. However, the location has an impact on salary. The type of work done by a paralegal also affects the pay. The average salary for a Senior Paralegal is $62,000, a Trademark Paralegal $52,000, and a Legal Assistant/Paralegal $46,000.

U.S. Intellectual Property Paralegals can expect a $64,000 salary. The compensation ranges from $42,000 to $92,000 which includes earning $7,000 from both profit sharing and bonuses in exceptional cases.

The level of experience and residence impact pay for Intellectual Property Paralegals. The residence has the most substantial influence. A large number of Intellectual Property Paralegals receive medical coverage paid by their employers with a fair amount also receiving dental coverage.

Jobs and Salaries

Corporate Paralegal $51,400
Trademark Paralegal $52,000
Employment Paralegal $52,500
Presuit Paralegal $53,600
Wealth Management Paralegal $86,800
National Paralegal Network $54,000
Generalist Paralegal $54,100
Principal Paralegal $54,600
Transactional Paralegal $52,500
Patent Prosecution Paralegal $52,400

 

Patent Paralegal Salaries in Top Cities

Rochester, NY $42,000
Chicago, IL $47,200
Boston, MA $47,600
Sacramento, CA $50,300
Philadelphia, PA $51,000
New York City, NY $52,000
San Diego, CA $54,300
Seattle, WA $58,600
Washington, DC $62,600
San Francisco, CA $65,600

Paralegal salary statistics vary from source to source. Information is gathered from companies and government agencies.

Other sources of data are current job listings, consensus, and surveys. Not all job postings give details of the compensation package. There are enough that do list compensation packages to derive patent paralegal salaries without skewing to an extreme.

The future looks promising for Patent Paralegals. From now until 2022, employment and the average salary are expected to grow a possible 17 percent. The anticipated growth is more than that of any other occupation.

Law firms are attempting to reduce expenses while increasing efficiency. More legal assistants are being hired. To rebuild support staff and revamp project staff law firms are looking for paralegals that will additionally have administrative responsibilities not part of their initial job description.

Clients put pressure on law firms about cost. The response to the pressure is to add to the demand for paralegals that cost less to staff. Several factors have a role in determining a certified Patent Paralegal salary.

The size of the company, where it is located, the type of education the paralegal has, and the number of years of experience are deciding factors. It is wise to gain an idea of the cost of living in certain states to see if the salary offered makes living there affordable.

The average salary according to the Certified Paralegal website is $48,613. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports Virginia and Maryland are the only states that have an average wage that matches the median.

States that pay above the average include:

  • Alabama
  • California
  • Connecticut
  • Georgia
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Massachusetts
  • Mississippi
  • Montana
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • Rhode Island
  • Washington, DC

Mississippi and New York have an average salary that is 17 percent above the median. All other states have salaries that fall below the national average. Hawaii ranks lowest at 29 percent below the median.

Senior Patent Paralegal

A position as a Senior Patent Paralegal usually exists in the legal department of large companies or within large legal practices. It is distinct from entry-level work by the expertise needed to hold the position and the ability to manage a variety of tasks beyond those of an entry-level Patent Paralegal.

Senior employees are trusted with sensitive documentation, reporting, and research. They are expected to maintain a high-level of confidentiality. Larger firms hire Patent Paralegals to fill supervisory positions.

The senior employees have legal assistants under them. Hiring the assistants, at least conducting the initial screening and interviews, often fall on the shoulders of Senior Paralegals. The education required for Senior Patent Paralegals is more extensive than an entry-level employee.

Most legal departments or firms require a college degree from a four-year college. Approximately four years’ experience as a legal assistant is typically needed as well. Senior Patent Paralegals draft binding legal documents for attorneys.

Strong working knowledge of affidavit, discovery, and the pleading document draft format is needed to handle that aspect of a practice. Attorneys give Senior Paralegals the task of higher-level research. The Senior Paralegal must have fluent computer skills.

Typical office and business hours during the week and irregular hours when demanded by casework are required. For these tasks and responsibilities, the average salary for a Senior Patent Paralegal is $77,307.

Entry-Level Patent Paralegals

Entry-level Patent Paralegals living and working in a large city may earn more than a paralegal working in a small town. The type of business also affects the salary. Some Patent Paralegals at the entry-level work for corporate legal departments or law firms, others work for federal or state government departments in the public sector.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics stated in 2014, the industries paying the highest paralegal salaries were medicine and pharmaceutical manufacturing, information services, commercial and professional equipment and supply wholesalers, and manufacturers of electronic components such as semiconductors.

Entry-level salaries are higher for those with an associate or bachelor degrees in paralegal studies. Becoming certified through a professional organization is not required but increases employability and potential salaries.

To qualify for the testing professional certification, agencies generally require experience working in a paralegal capacity to take the test. Graduation with a degree from an approved institution or a certificate paralegal training program makes a person eligible to apply for testing to become a certified Patent Paralegal.

Paralegals often have duties that overlap with the responsibilities of an attorney but make much less. The highest ten percent of paralegals make approximately $60,000 less than that of the average lawyer. The salaries of Paralegals are modestly lower than social service jobs such as teachers but typically higher than family and child social workers.

Enhancing Communication as a Patent Agent or Patent Attorney

Whether you’re trying to improve the work environment at a law firm or patent office, network with other professionals or work as effectively as possible with clients, a good attorney-client relationship in terms of communication is essential. It can help avoid conflict, clarify misunderstandings, and make sure you get your clients exactly what they need.

Why Is Communication Important?

The main reason that communication and a solid attorney-client relationship are so important is that most jobs, whether it regards intellectual property, litigation or patent prosecution, or otherwise are not done completely independently, including patent law. As a patent professional, you’ll interact with other agents and attorneys for advice, networking, and career advancement. And, of course, you’ll also be communicating with clients. But what exactly can good communication do for you?

For one thing, it creates a sense of cooperation and camaraderie in the office. If you feel that you’re surrounded by people who value what you have to say and have a lot to contribute to the conversation, you’ll not only like your job more, you’ll get more out of it. Apply this same logic to professional conferences, networking groups, and even job interviews and you can see that it applies well beyond your office walls.

Effective communication also ensures that you are making yourself clear so you can avoid costly misunderstandings. This is important, especially in a field like patent law when there are legal implications to the work that’s being done.

Perhaps the biggest reason good communication matters is because of all the trouble that bad communication can cause. Whether you get unclear information from a superior, feel tensions mounting between coworkers or misunderstand what a client wants, poor communication can cost a lot of time and money. A lot of problems can be avoided by making sure things are resolved and questions are answered appropriately in the first place.

Communicating with other Patent Professionals

Improving communication between patent agents and attorneys in the workplace and in the industry itself can have a lot of positive effects. Not only does it make the work environment friendlier for everyone, it also helps open channels for feedback and cooperation. Being a good communicator can also help you build a reputation that reaches all corners of the industry.

Here are three easy ways to improve communication with those you see in the office every day or other patent professionals you come in contact with.

  1. Understand that conflicts are going to happen; what’s important is how they’re resolved. The end result isn’t necessarily as important as how the disagreement is worked through. While some problems will blow over on their own once tensions have calmed, there are occasions when major issues have to be dealt with. Relax, take deep breaths and try very hard to reserve judgment. Listen to the other person with an open mind. Get a supervisor involved in mediation if necessary but never be disrespectful.
  2. Be careful with forms of electronic communications like email, instant messages, and group chats. Yes, the information covered in most of those early morning meetings could have been sent out in an email instead, but that’s not always the point. Conversation and face to face interaction are necessary to keep everyone connected. It builds a much better bond and camaraderie than digital communications. Also, talking face to face is one way to make sure that you’re not misunderstood, which is so easy to do in an email.
  3. Give positive feedback. That doesn’t mean that you have to come up with something nice to say to every coworker about every project. But if you genuinely like someone’s work or if a coworker has done something that impresses you, let them know. When people know their work is appreciated, it helps build an environment of mutual respect. That’s great in an office and when networking with other patent professionals. Think about it, if someone needs a referral for a good patent agent or an awesome job at a great company has a lead or a position open, your reputation among your peers can give you an edge.

Communicating with Clients

There are some key things you can do improve communication between both your client and your coworkers and when working one-on-one.

  1. Stay positive. No one in the office should be badmouthing or complaining about your clients or anyone else’s. You’re trying to build relationships and going negative will only hinder that growth.
  2. Talk on the phone or in person regularly. We touched on this a little earlier but not enough good things can be said about stepping away from email occasionally. Picking up the phone or having a face to face meeting will do wonders for any client relationship. Plus, it helps clear up and avoid miscommunication.
  3. Practice active listening. One of the best ways to let a client know that they matter is to really listen to them. Make sure you understand their concerns and needs so that you can provide them with exactly what they need.
  4. Understand when an email will do. You don’t have to call your client anytime you have a question or if something else comes up. There is a time and place for email. It’s great for updates, information, recaps, and sending certain files and documents. It is not the best place to get into in-depth discussions or trying to explain complicated subjects.
  5. Follow up right away. Everything moves so quickly these days. If you tell a client you’ll get right back to them about something, make sure you do. For one thing, it will show that they are valuable to you. For another, it keeps information and communication current and helps to tackle any issues in real time.

Keeping Communication Front and Center

If you want to continue to grow your reputation as a patent professional, focusing on communication is one of the most effective things you can do. It has an immediate effect on your place of business, the effectiveness of your work, and your relationships with your clients.

 

12 Highly Rated Patent Law Firms on Glassdoor

Glassdoor is a database that contains reviews of patent attorney and patent agent law firms. The resource helps promote the firms to candidates doing research and advertise jobs to ideal candidates that may be unaware of the law firms need for personnel.

Here is some information about 12 patent law firms and the ratings they received on Glassdoor. Rating numbers are based on a five-star system.

1. Stoel Rives

The firm’s areas of practice includes Intellectual Property. A wide variety of industries are served. Stoel Rives dates back to 1883 and there are more than 360 attorneys employed by the firm. The average review rating for this firm is 3.2.

2. Barclay Damon, LLP

With offices in Syracuse, Rochester, Buffalo and Albany, Barclay Damon LLP has a growing Intellectual Property practice. It has an impressive array of clients including several listed as Fortune 500 companies. This practice received a Glassdoor rating of 3.5 and the reviews lean toward the positive end of the spectrum.

3. Lewis Roca Rothgerber, Christie LLP

The firm has more than 250 attorneys that provide legal expertise to the Southwestern United States, the Rocky Mountains, and throughout California.

Lewis Roca Rothgerber, Christie LLP commits to helping national and local clients with numerous legal challenges. They work closely with clients from early stages of technical development. They offer valuable advice about business strategy and integration that protects Intellectual Property. The reviews for this firm average only 2.5, but one review gave the firm a five out of five rating.

Michael Best & Friedrich

The private practice firm has about 230 attorneys. Intellectual Property is a business legal matter specialty of the firm. Reviews for the firm averaged 3.3. Most comments made were positive.

5. Parker & Lynch Legal

This firm works with top law firms in Boston that want to add a patent agent or patent associate to their firm. The firm is serious about development and training of their patent associates and agents. They are given the opportunity to work with senior attorneys and have regular contact with clients. The firm, like nearly all of the practices listed here, had both positive and negative comments made. The average rating was 3.3.

6. Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton

This firm has a 3.2 rating. More than 600 attorneys work for the firm. They deliver results-oriented counsel for the Intellectual Property management disciplines.

7. Fox Rothschild

A rating of 2.3 has been assigned to this firm. The firm often provides the opportunity for taking the patent bar exam.

8. Marshall, Gerstein & Borun LLP

This Chicago based Intellectual Property legal firm has more than 85 attorneys who are highly-qualified technical specialists and patent agents. Prosecution and litigation in every area of Intellectual Property law is their specialty. They litigate nationwide, mainly within the federal court system. They obtain trademark registration and patents for clients in the U.S. and foreign trademark and patent offices.

The atmosphere at Marshall, Gerstein, & Borun LLP is business casual. Ample opportunities are provided for socialization between colleagues. They include out-of-the-office functions, special-occasion luncheons, and monthly breakfasts. Associates have generously sized private offices. The culture offers a great balance between life and work. Reviews for this firm averaged 3.7.

9. Lowenstein Sandler

With a diversified client portfolio, Lowenstein Sandler provides patent services that range from startup to research universities and market-leading brands. Clients’ work is recognized on the global stage.

The firm works with highly-qualified patent practitioners with advanced degrees in mathematics, biology, chemistry, physics, computer science, and electrical engineering. Patent agents are taught, learned from, challenged, and supported as they grow personally and professionally. The firm has a 4.0 review rating.

10. Sterne Kessler & Goldstein and Fox PLLC

Washington Business Journal and the Washington Post named this firm as a “great place to work” for several years. Based on employee surveys, they average a 3.6 rating.

The firm is a highly specialized, team-oriented, dynamic Intellectual Property firm. It is located in the center of Washington, DC. They understand every element and the role it plays in the big picture of a patent life cycle.

11. Morgan Lewis & Bockius LLP

This firm is a world-leading international law firm that has nearly 4,000 lawyers and staff spread over 30 offices. They have over 150 technical specialists and Intellectual Property professionals. The company rating is 3.2.

It is not a boutique firm. The law office brings considerable resources among the largest U.S. law firms. Substantial resources are offered as they represent and advise on all Intellectual Property aspects that include IP issues with business transactions, outsourcing, and managing services, unfair competition, advertising, Internet, franchises, trade secrets, IP enforcement programs, IP licensing, IP litigation, copyrights, trademarks, and patents.

12. McGuireWoods LP

The McGuireWoods experienced Intellectual Property lawyers help clients develop, exploit, and protect commercially valuable information and ideas including trade secrets, trademarks, copyrights, and patents.

The firm’s Intellectual Property strength has a 3.5 rating on the Glassdoor website. Benchmark Litigation named the chair of the Intellectual Property practice as “Virginia Litigator of the Year.” Media outlets and legal publications seek insight on IP related legislative developments.

Conclusion

The Intellectual Property practice marries the litigation and corporate lawyers’ talents that provide sophisticated, comprehensive solutions helping companies and individuals maximize their business technological and creative endeavors.

Most of these law firms have a Glassdoor rating of 3+. Each has testimonials from clients and other rating agencies that shine a favorable light on them.

 

How to Prepare for the First Day of your New Job as a Patent Practitioner

So, you have your bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, or PhD., you’ve passed all the required tests as well as the interview, and you are on your way to becoming a patent attorney or patent agent at one of the leading law firms.

However, it is your first day.

The first day working at a new job is an exciting yet often stressful experience. No matter what your job is, meeting new people and working at new tasks is certainly something that takes some getting used to.

This is especially true when beginning to prepare for the first day of your new job as a patent practitioner. This highly-skilled job often requires a fair bit of multi-tasking and conversing with various individuals. Though you may feel completely prepared for this experience there are still a few helpful tips that will make your first day a successful one.

This article will provide you with some very helpful ways to make your first day as a patent practitioner go smoothly.

Most people reading this article are probably well aware of what a patent practitioner is and what the job entails, but for those simply looking into this profession it’s best to quickly describe generally what a patent practitioner does.

Put simply, a patent practitioner represents individuals or groups before a patent office to discuss matters relating to patents. They submit patent applications and help with the prosecution of those applications. Obviously, this is a very succinct explanation and there is certainly much more to this job in regard to specifics, but this enough of a background for this article.

Make A Good Impression

With that highly generalized explanation of what a patent practitioner is, here are some great ways on how to prepare for your first day in this profession. First and foremost, it’s very important to make a good first impression with your bosses and co-workers. In order to accomplish this successfully make sure you are on time. Showing up late even by just a few minutes is absolutely unacceptable. In fact, it’s best to show up a few minutes early to show everyone you are professional and reliable.

A good way to make sure you aren’t late is to simply plan ahead. Have your driving route planned out and maybe even practice getting to the office a few times to ensure you understand exactly how long it takes. This may seem a bit excessive, but you only have one opportunity to make a good first impression. Knowing how you are going to get to the office on the first day is even more important if you live in a big city where you are required to travel by public transportation. This is where having a few “test runs” under your belt will really come in handy.

Dress the Part

Another very important preparation for your first day as a patent practitioner is to dress for the part. Often, you can wear the type of clothing you wore for your job interview.  This highly-skilled job requires men to wear a smart suit and tie or at least a shirt and tie and for women to dress in business casual attire. Men typically have it rather easy in this regard as they don’t really have to worry about their attire.

Women, on the other hand, should give their clothing a fair bit of thought. Most experts agree that a woman should dress conservatively as opposed to wearing some sort of cutting-edge fashion attire. Women should wear dress pants or knee-length skirts that fit well. A nice fitted top that isn’t too flashy and closed-toes shoes are also recommended for women.

It’s possible that some offices will have more casual attire. Showing up on your first day over-dressed is a much smarter option than showing up under-dressed. Just go for a week or so before you decide to deviate from these attire tips. Make sure your office is really OK with casual clothing before you show up wearing slacks and a polo and stand out like a sore thumb.

Don’t be Afraid To Ask Questions

When preparing for your first day as a patent practitioner, come prepared to ask a lot of questions. It’s best practice to take some time and think over some of the more important questions that are inevitably going to be brought up during your first day on the job. Though some people refrain from asking questions as they don’t want to be singled out as not knowing what they are doing, this simply isn’t going to be beneficial. In fact, asking questions will without a doubt help you get through your first day up through your first month and will most likely impress your bosses and co-workers alike.

Know Your Surroundings

Familiarizing yourself with the company by visiting its website is another great way to prepare yourself for your first day as a patent practitioner. Most, if not all of these types of businesses, will have detailed websites where you can gain quite a bit of insight on how the company operates.

You’ll probably also be able to look up some of your bosses and co-workers and gain additional information on them and their background. This will certainly help you learn people’s names faster and even have a bit of small talk material to bring up. Obviously, you don’t want to be overbearing trying to figure out each person’s life story, but learning where they are from or went to school is something that can be good in order to build a rapport with your co-workers.

Prepare Properly

Be prepared. People will expect you to know how to conduct basic patent searches, how and when to take a retainer from a client and how agent-client confidentiality works. Make sure you feel confident with your knowledge in these domains.

Plan Social Time

You will also want to consider what you’re going to do for lunch. This can be a bit tricky because bringing your lunch from home will prevent you from going out to lunch with co-workers and getting to know them better. Of course, you can always bring your lunch and save it if the opportunity to go out arises. This is a personal preference, but something to think about nonetheless.

You should also be prepared to introduce yourself and shake hands with new acquaintances. Be sure to look people in the eyes and give them a firm handshake. You don’t have to introduce yourself to everybody on your first day, but try to make an effort to get to know as many people as you can.

There are certainly many other great ways to prepare yourself for your first day as a patent practitioner, but following the ones laid out in this article will undoubtedly get you well on your way to surviving this initial experience. Starting a new job isn’t an easy task and since you can only make one good first impression it’s very important to strive to do the best job possible presenting yourself to bosses and co-workers. Not everything will go according to plan, but having confidence in yourself will make the day go a bit smoother.

 

How to Pick the Right IP Law Program

Intellectual property industries account for more than 38 percent of the country’s gross domestic product. IP plays a crucial role in American life. Intellectual property law protects people’s claims of ownership on works of art, inventions, and ideas.

IP attorneys are aware of the demand for their skills. Experts note practicing IP law is an opportunity to be involved in a human creativity industry. Commercial legal jobs are rapidly expanding, especially in the high-tech sector.

There are a significant number of disputes that exist between international companies and the U.S. that involve international litigation. The legal field is becoming central to major United States policy disputes.

IP law dealing with patents, copyright laws, and trademarks has become a dynamic area of law. Congress frequently proposes revisions to the U.S. intellectual property laws. The number of Supreme Court cases is growing.

Law school hopefuls that enjoy entertainment, art, or science may find IP law an attractive option. Because trademarks, trade secrets, copyright laws, and patents are invaluable to businesses, intellectual property law is essential for the future.

IP law schools vary in the quality of intellectual property law preparation. Therefore, deciding where to apply and attend are important decisions.

A school’s reputation and ranking represent significant decision-making process components. However, they are not the only considerations. Schools that have slightly lower overall rankings may offer an exceptional IP law program. Listed below are three signs of a quality IP program.

Courses

Review the available intellectual property courses. You need classes that explain how to:

  • Apply for patents.
  • Challenge patents.
  • File lawsuits that allege a violation of patents.

Look for IP law courses that discuss how U.S. law differs from other countries. This is marketable knowledge. Prospective attorneys use this information as lawyers for clients that need trademarks, copyright, and patents in multiple countries.

Future business attorneys need IP courses to understand and be able to flag potential problems for companies they represent. Students pursuing trademark law should consider relevant classes in addition to regularly-offered patent courses.

Training

In the current economy, it is crucial to obtain hands-on, pragmatic experience to supplement classroom education. Conduct due diligence in regard to the career services office of each school.

Determine how robust they are; the amount of personalized assistance that can be expected; and how much the staff is dedicated to law firms, the public sector, and the nonprofit sector. The ideal choice has a substantial portion of the staff focused on areas of interest to you.

An exceptional law program provides internships, clerkships, practicums, and clinics that allow students to receive field experience. Applicants should target schools offering experiential learning opportunities in the area of IP that is of most interest to them such as copyright, trade secrets, patents, or trademarks. Writing and publishing articles on a particular IP specialty for an intellectual property law journal is valuable. Applicants should look for law schools that provide legal IP writing opportunities.

Patent lawyer, John Kappes, recommends prospective law students look for IP programs that participate in the USPTO Law School Clinic Certification Program. The program allows students supervised opportunities to help with federal trademark and patent applications.

Networking

Do not overlook a school’s networking avenues. Jackson & Lowe Law Group managing partner, Waukeshia Jackson, feels the ideal law school has recruiting relationships with local IP law firms.

These firms offer internships or summer work as opportunities for students to gain experience. A community of active, local intellectual property attorneys attending networking events is helpful.

Relationships can start developing early when there is a community of intellectual property professionals around the school. Students can make connections and possibly find a mentor. Connections open doors for employment opportunities.

Also Consider

Other key factors to consider are the location and the campus. Unless you are going to attend a top 25 school, location is essential. Decide where you would like to live after finishing law school.

Aim for a school in that geographic area. You will have access to more job opportunities. The majority of law firms that recruit at a school are local firms. There is a more extensive alumni network available if you stay in the region. For example, if you go to law school in Chicago but live in Boston, Chicago connections will not be beneficial in Boston. Cross off any school in a state that you do not want to reside.

Only so much can be learned about a campus through flashy websites and glossy brochures. Discover what the community and culture are really like by visiting each school campus that you are considering.

Talk to students about the environment. Ask about competitiveness and the weekend social scene. Explore housing facilities by looking into on- and off-campus options. Experience extracurricular activities that peak your interest. The school’s website will list student organizations.

Attending a meeting will be revealing and informative. Get in touch with recent alumni. Their memory of  the school is fresh in their minds. You can gain insight into the IP program, which professors they liked, and who to stay away from.

You will need money for tuition and fees, room and board, and other miscellaneous expenses. Loans taken out for graduate programs take years to pay back. Minimize debt by considering public law schools in the state you reside if they meet the three criteria of quality.

Points of Interest

Patent law is unique among the types of intellectual property careers. Patent value is determined by the scope of claims the USPTO grants. Practitioners who want to prosecute have to qualify for and pass the required patent bar exam. Aspiring students should investigate employments prospects from attorneys in their field.