The subject of intellectual property law is of growing importance in our increasingly technological and complex society. Intellectual property is intangible types of property that arise from mental rather than physical labor. Intellectual property involves inventions, designs and even artwork. Federal and state governments provide some degree of rights and protections to people who create intellectual works.
Evidence shows the practice of intellectual property law has grown dramatically in the last 20 years as more trademarks, copyrights, trade secrets, and patents are being filed. That is why the intellectual property law field is popular and growing. Attorneys earning their intellectual property law degree frequently are employed by major law firms, or in specialty firms specializing in intellectual property law. There are more intellectual law property jobs being found in major corporations as part of in house legal staff. Research universities also employ intellectual property attorneys.
If you search for attorney jobs online, you will quickly notice that intellectual property law is among the most popular practices with the most open positions. Experts contend this is because of broader trends in the US economy.
Much of the recent economic growth in the United States has been generated by developments related to intellectual property. In the late 20th century and now into the 21st, new, never before seen levels of wealth creation have occurred. The new ‘industrial tycoons’ are not working in steel, construction and other traditional industries. Instead, the valuation of corporations is often based mostly on the value of their intellectual property. Significant growth has been in computers, telecommunications, pharmaceutical, and other tech-related industries. Because companies in these sectors have spent hundreds of millions or even billions of dollars to develop products and inventions, they are spending heavily on attorneys to protect their intellectual property.
There are ample jobs available for attorneys with skills in the intellectual property law field. Generally, the demand for attorneys will grow by at least 8% through 2026, which is about as fast as average. But as noted above, the need for intellectual property lawyers is higher because of the massive resources companies have put into developing their intellectual products.
Intellectual property lawyers are needed, so their salaries are high as you might expect. In 2012, BLS reported average lawyer salaries were $130,800. But a survey by the American Intellectual Property Law Association found patent lawyers earned more than $200,000 per year.
In 2010, intellectual property attorneys had a billing rate of $340 per hour, while partners could charge $410 per hour. Payscale.com also notes the average salary for these attorneys is $136,800 with a range between $75,900 and $196,900.
States with the highest overall salaries for attorneys are:
- Washington DC: $189,500
- California: $168,200
- New York: $165,200
- Massachusetts: $157,400
- Connecticut: $152,500
Some of the best law firms in the country specializing in intellectual law are:
- Fish & Richardson P.C.
- Finnegan, Henderson, Farabow, Garrett & Dunner LLP
- Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, LLP
- Kirkland & Ellis LLP
- Morrison & Foerster LLP
- Cooley LLPWilson Sonsini, Goodrich & Rosati
- Irell & Manella LLP
- Fenwick & West LLP
While most law schools require students to attend their J.D. program on campus, there are some notable exceptions. Arizona State Universty in Arizona and the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law offers an online JD degree in Intellectual Property Law. The school also offers law degrees online in Criminal Law, Law, and Sustainability, HR and Employment Law and Sports Law.
In the intellectual property program, it is understood that creativity and innovation are the keys to a knowledgable economy. Protecting intellectual advancements in these areas to foster competitive innovation and boost creativity involves many complex legal angles. Students will be armed with the knowledge of intellectual property protection options, the ability to see situations where a creative advancement could be vulnerable to being stolen, and a better understand of how to create more competitive advantages through barriers to entry, brand building and navigating tough legal problems.
Many law students consider ASU to earn their JD for the following reasons:
- This program is #1 in the state for passage of the bar exam. It is the only law school where students were in the top 3 on the bar exam in the state in the last 25 years.
- Rated as the #3 law school in the Western United States
- #8 public law school in the US
- #10 in career services for graduates
- #14 in offering financial aid
- #25 best law school in the US
- Ranked as one of the most innovative colleges by US News and World Report in 2019
To be considered for admission to this JD program at ASU, you should have the following materials available for submission:
- Statement of purpose
- Letters of recommendation
- LSAC Credential Assembly Service report
- Personal interview
- College transcripts
- Students who want to apply for early admission must take the LSAT exam no later than November each year.
Required courses for ASU’s intellectual property law JD program are:
- Contracts or Fundamentals of Contract Law
- Criminal Law
- Civil Procedure
- Constitutional Law
- US Law and Legal Analysis
- Civil Procedure
- Criminal Procedure
- Intellectual Property
- Business Organizations
The remaining program requirements are electives. Your elective course selection is flexible and is intended to accommodate the many intellectual and professional interest the JD program is meant to serve.
Earning your JD degree in intellectual property can be expensive, but there are many scholarships and grants available if you look around. Many of these scholarships are offered by ASU, including:
- ABOTA Trial Advocacy Award
- Adjunct Fellow
- Alan Matheson Moot Court Counseling Competition Scholarship
- Alan Matheson Service Award
- American Law Institute – American Bar Association Award
- Anthony Lucia Scholarship
- Arizona Chapter of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers Scholarship
- Arizona Women Lawyers Honoring Justice O’Connor Scholarship
- ASU Alumni Association Outstanding Graduate Award
- Jonathan Rose Endowment
- Jon and Janelle Kappes Scholarship
- Joseph Feller Memorial Scholarship
- Judge Mary Anne Richey Scholarship
- Judge Roslyn Olson Silver Scholarship
- Kevin Kane Memorial Book Scholarship
- Leo & Annette Beus Top Scholars
- Liberty Project
- Los Abogados/Hono
- National Association of Women Lawyers Outstanding Graduate
- Navajo Law Fellowship
- Nussbaum Gillis & Dinner Scholarship
- Order of the Barristers
- Osborn Maledon Endowed Scholarship
- Palumbo Wolfe Scholarship
- Patricia D. White Scholarship
- Paul & Flo Eckstein Scholarship
- Paul Holloway Trial Advocacy Award
- Peter Baird Writing Prize
These associations are worth exploring if your career focus is intellectual property law:
- American Bar Association – Intellectual Property Law
- Association of Intellectual Property Firms
- International Intellectual Property Law Association
- World Intellectual Property Organization
If you earn a regular JD degree and later wish to specialize in IP, you have the option by earning a certificate in the specialty. Many law schools provide certificate programs in intellectual property law, including Georgia Tech, UC Davis School of Law, Seton Hall University, Duke University School of Law, and Arizona State University. At ASU, students are required to complete at least seven courses or 16 credits in IP law and write a paper related to intellectual property issues.
- Intellectual Property Law. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://law.wisc.edu/academics/curriculum-guides/intellectual.html
- Attorneys. (2018). Retrieved from https://www.bls.gov/ooh/legal/lawyers.htm
- Arizona State University Intellectual Property Law Degree Program. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://law.asu.edu/degree-programs/mls/mls-online/intellectual-property-mls
- The Highest-Paying States for Lawyers. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.investopedia.com/articles/personal-finance/102015/where-do-lawyers-earn-most-money.asp
- Careers in Intellectual Property Law. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://careers.findlaw.com/legal-career-options/is-a-career-in-intellectual-property-law-for-you.html
- Average Salary for Patent Lawyers. (2016). Retrieved from https://work.chron.com/average-salary-patent-lawyers-24085.html