Law schools are beginning to ramp up non-JD programs and one of the newest areas of focus are masters-level degrees aimed at training patent agents for practice. There have been patent bar exam prep courses for many years, but these new programs are designed to provide patent-focused training to non-JD students that is similar to the type of instruction that law students receive.
For example, the Master of Legal Studies, Patent Practice concentration at Arizona State University features many of the college’s intellectual property and patent classes. Engineers and hard science graduates that are looking to acquire skills and expertise in patent law, intellectual property, patent drafting, and other applicable topics useful to patent practitioners can earn a Masters of Legal Studies, Patent Practice concentration degree in as little as 12 months. Masters-level students will be in the classroom with JD students for traditional courses such as patent law, an intellectual property overview course, and patent prosecution. Additionally, these non-JD students will also take two courses designed especially for them, an MPEP-focused comprehensive patent practice course and a skills course in patent drafting.
Further details about the curriculum and application process may be found at www.law.asu.edu/patentpractice.
Note that there is a difference between a MS degree at a university versus passing the patent bar to become a registered patent agent. I have been a Patent Agent for over a decade and it is a great profession. - Dr. Bawa
Dr. Bawa, you are certainly correct that there is a difference between passing the patent bar and receiving a Masters of Legal Studies (M.L.S.) degree in patent practice. The particular program at Arizona State University is not intended to be a patent bar prep course and in fact, students receive a stipend to enroll in a professional bar prep course. Rather, the program is intended to give students the hands-on experience needed to know how to actually draft and prosecute patents as these skills are not taught in the rule-focused patent bar prep courses. Speaking from personal experience, I passed the patent bar exam during my first year of law school but had no practical knowledge as to how to actually practice in the field and was fortunate enough to receive excellent mentorship by practicing patent attorneys to learn how to competently draft and prosecute patent applications. Unfortunately in today's job market, most employers are not willing to dedicate the time and funds needed to train new patent agents and as such, programs such as the M.L.S. Patent Practice concentration give students the necessary skills to be competitive in the job market.