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Ask the Experts

Q: I am trying to find a job in copyright and trademark for this summer; hopefully one that will also be permanent job after graduation next May. What is the best way to prepare myself for this field while still in school? What are the best firms to work for- both in prestige/pay and balance?

A: To get a job in Intellectual Property, your resume must reflect this interest. The key is to make it easy on the person reviewing your resume to understand that your area of interest is indeed IP. I suggest your past job descriptions focus (only if applicable, of course) on work you've done in this area. If you don't have a background in IP, then you need to demonstrate your interest by listing your involvement in your school's IP club or other relevant activities. (If your school has no such club, then create one and be the founding member!) Nothing is less impressive than a candidate who claims interest in one area, but who has not made any effort to educate him or herself or become really involved in that area. You should consider whether you're more interested in the litigation or corporate side (as IP tends to straddle the two), and make sure you tailor your coursework appropriately. The more you know about who you are and what your looking for, the easier your search will be. IP is a relatively small specialty, and so if you want to focus solely on IP, you will need to present yourself as a competitive candidate.

As for chosing an appropriate firm, as you must know, there are boutique firms as well as IP departments within the world's largest law firms. At this stage of the game, the large firms have already hired their summer classes, so you would likely have more luck with smaller firms. Like any other law student, you should consider a firm's culture to ensure that it will be a good fit for you. You will need to spend a great deal or time and effort determining what positions out there will provide you your best opportunity to grow professionally, but in the end you efforts will be rewarded. Though it is not appropriate that we recommend any specific firms, there are many websites that do rank firms based on such things as pay and work life balance and you may want to explore one of those. You may wish to search for firms with an IP practice on martindalehubbell.com and then research the culture of those firms on a site like vault.com.

Good luck.

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