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Patent attorneys are often cast out from the traditional legal community of sharks, rainmakers, and ambulance chasers. But, unlike every other type of lawyer, of which there seems to be too many, there is a constant demand for patent attorneys.
The demand is driven by two primary factors: the ever growing economy, and the lack of qualified patent attorneys. Unfortunately for new attorneys, becoming a patent attorney isn't as easy as choosing a specialization like family law, contracts, or civil rights. But, for those attorneys that can branch out into IP, the reward could be well worth the extra effort.
Protecting Economic Growth
Patent and other IP attorneys have a unique role in the business world: helping to protect the economic growth and prospects of creative individuals and businesses. As the economy continues to grow, and technology continues to evolve in consumer, medical, and other fields, patent and IP attorneys are needed to financially protect a business's (or individual's) investment in research and development.
As more and more new businesses, services, and products are brought to market, and as the global economy continues to evolve, the demand for patent attorneys will continue to increase. What may come as a big surprise is the fact that only 1.5% of the 1.5 million U.S. attorneys are patent lawyers (that's only 20,000).
Qualified Attorneys, Please Apply ... Please!
As has been the case for decades, fewer attorneys specialize in patent law because of the hurdles required to get licensed by USPTO, and because it just isn't that economically rewarding for those who are qualified. Not only does an attorney need a formal scientific background, but they also have to pass the patent bar.
For individuals with the formal scientific background, there is little to no financial motivation to pursue patent law. Scientists of all varieties, but particularly computer scientists and electrical engineers, may have just as much earning potential in their respective industries than as patent attorneys in their industries. Spending three years in school and taking on six figure tuition does a rather good job of maintaining the exclusivity of the patent attorney profession.