What about legal careers for someone with a science background?  


Colleague 45274
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January 8, 2019 5:48 pm  

What about legal careers for someone with a science background?

Dave Jensen
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January 8, 2019 5:48 pm  

People who combine an advanced science degree with legal training often find legal career opportunities in intellectual property (IP), the environment, or other law fields. Legal positions are available within biotech and pharmaceutical companies, as well as law firms, patent offices, and university technology licensing offices; a PhD degree is seen as a significant advantage for these types of jobs. The US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) also looks for people with strong technical backgrounds to work as examiners.

Going to meetings (for example, the Association of University Technology Managers AUTM national meeting), networking with attorneys and patent agents, and talking to your institution's technology transfer office are all ways to get started with a search for this kind of position. Passing the patent exam will make you more attractive to a firm. It may also help to take an IP survey course at a university, or a basic licensing course through AUTM. When interviewing at law firms, be ready for the obvious questions: Why do you want to leave research for IP? Why are you interested in our firm? What do you know about patents already? Do you want to go to law school? Do you have any prior experience with IP? Have questions for your interviewers as well: What kind of training/mentorship do they have for tech specialists? What is the scope of projects? Do technology specialists become patent agents? Does the firm pay for the patent bar exam? Do technology specialists have to go to night law school?

You might also consider trying to find an internship with a law firm during graduate school. Remember that your school is a client of at least one firm. Some schools have internship programs with their preferred law firms as a career development tool for their students.

- Dave Jensen, Moderator and Founder

Dave Jensen, Founder and Moderator
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January 25, 2019 8:13 am  

There are a number of medical courses which you can do in science background:
 MBBS (Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery): You can give PMT exams & respective state level exam to get into good colleges for pursuing this course. 
 BDS (Bachelors of Dental Science) 
 BPT (Bachelor of Physiotherapy) 
 BHMS (Bachelor of Homeopathic Medicine & Surgery) 
 BAMS (Bachelor of Ayurveda Medicine & Surgery) 
 B. Pharm (Bachelor of Pharmacy) 
 B. Tech. ( Bachelor of Technology in Biotechnology): For this one needs to clear AIEEE exams with biology subject. 
 BE in Environmental Engineering 
B sc( Bachelor of Science): One can clear entrance & get into IITs, JNU for the same. 

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January 25, 2019 8:50 am  

Hi Dave is spot on, I don't get the post from Radhiksharma above in the context of the origingal question, but maybe its me.

Regarding legal careers what I can add to Dave's answer is about the context of your question.  Have you thought about a specific legal path you're interested in the context of science and a legal background?  IP is just one.  I actually have a IP lawyer I work with as part of our cross-functional team - can be very scientific and very strategic in the context of business objectives, attention to detail is fundamental as well as being able to seek expertise elsewhere, i.e. other functions such as CMC or TechOps etc. as well.  Have you spoken to anyone informational wise?

Back in my day, patent law was the rave, the hot career - that fizzeled out after a few years - law firms were highing PhDs and sending them to law school at night..all well and nice but c'est la vie.  Still there are opportunities indeed but not like my day when it was the "hot" field.

In Pharma there are other careers beyond IP where a legal with scientific background can be a benefit. So called General Council/Legal Department folks do alot from contracts review (i.e. with HCPs, medical organizations), review of activities to ensure legally the company is protected (i.e. advisory board content, here science background helps, i.e. promotional material review and approval from legal etc.) and beyond (i.e. ensuring the company is legal protected in its regulated environment).   A big job indeed - one can be busy but one can acheive work life balance. 

Another area is Compliance and Ethics.  One does not necessarilty need a Legal degree at all but a few with legal degrees to end up here, ensuring the company is adherant to SOPs and varied codes of conduct and ensuring its activities are Ethical - i.e. the company is doing the right thing. A science background can help, these folks can and o work hand in hand with the Legal department, they'll also weight in on scientific activities etc.  They may also look at HCP contracts, or an activity to ensure compliance to SOPs and guidelines - also aiming to protect and secure the company's good business practices and reputation.  

And funny, i've seen legal folk with science backgrounds end up in the oddest positions - from marketing to business development to alliance management to commerical operations as part of career growth - usually after they've started someplace else so like any other background, once you're in a path you can start to find new interests as metioned and work towards them later on.

Good luck, think broad and do your informational interviewing, see if you think you can like it.  I thought about patent law myself back in the day and got a part-time paid tech transfer job at a start up tech venture firm while in grad school (another hot area back in my day, now fizzeled out).  Hated it. But advise you try to get some experience before taking a decision to invest in law school.


Dick Woodward
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January 25, 2019 2:42 pm  

Well DX, I don't find marketing and business development (or commercial operations, for that matter) to be "odd", but I will agree that they may be atypical (my mother certainly thought so). ? 

As far as the legal aspects of things are concerned, going the patent agent route may not be a bad idea. It allows you to skip law school and the related expense (if you are focusing on IP, why take all of those other courses) and most firms with IP departments have patent agents to supplement the patent attorneies as subject matter experts.