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From Chemistry to Law

I'm looking for advice on how to move from academia to IP or patent law. I've heard from multiple people (who all heard from a friend, who heard from a friend) that some law firms will hire Ph.D. scientists and help pay for law school, but I've never met anyone who has actually done this. I don't think I can quit my job to go to law school without some kind of guarantee that there's a job for me on the other side.

2 Replies
Contributor III

Re: From Chemistry to Law

Dear Chad,

For the best advice I'd recommend that you connect with the CHAL Division membership and see how they got started.  My own experience (engineering, not law) is that at best (during good economic times) some LARGE companies would subsidize or pay for advanced schooling WHILE you worked for them full-time.  That necessitates a part-time scholastic curriculum.  I know that law firms will hire chemical experts on a case-basis as witnesses or resources, but not that they would pay for anyone's degree program.

As a long-term possibility it may be worthwhile to take what law courses or prerequisites you may need on your own, part-time.  The only real time constraint would be any time requirement of a school for accepting previous courses.

Best regards,


New Contributor III

Re: From Chemistry to Law

Steve is correct, the CHAL division has lots of resources on this topic (  They also have many members who have done this.  Law school full-time takes 3 years, doing it at night while working takes 4.  Please note also that there are many jobs in IP that you can do without going to law school, so you can check the field out and see if you like it before committing many more years to school.  Patent agent, patent searcher, patent liaison, etc. are some job titles on which you might want to search.