Summer Associate Positions
Students interested in litigation or transactional work involving intellectual property or information law should consider seeking a summer associate position at a law firm after their second year of law school. Large law firms may have a group that specializes in the student’s area of interest. Smaller “boutique” firms may specialize only in the student’s area of interest. A comparison of multiple “top firm” lists available online in various intellectual property areas will usually yield a reasonably reliable list of firms which the student should research.
Summer Public Interest Positions
Students interested in litigation or policy issues involving intellectual property or information law should consider seeking a summer position with one of the numerous public interest organizations in the field, such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the Center for Democracy and Technology, the ACLU, or Public Knowledge.
Students are very strongly encouraged to pursue a federal clerkship either at the district or appellate court level. The bulk of intellectual property litigation occurs in the Second, Ninth, and Seventh Circuits and in the Federal Circuit (and, at the district level, in the SDNY, ND Cal., CD Cal., ND Ill., and ED Tex.), but clerkships in other venues will also likely involve intellectual property matters. Students with an interest in patent law may wish to place a priority on seeking a clerkship at the Federal Circuit.
The Patent Bar Exam
Students with the necessary science or engineering background are strongly encouraged to take the Patent Bar Exam, officially known as the “Examination for Registration to Practice in Patent Cases Before the United States Patent and Trademark Office.” Even if the student does not intend to prosecute patents before the USPTO, admission to the Patent Bar is a strong signal to potential employers of the student’s commitment to and proficiency in patent-related matters.