This article is written for law students and trainee solicitors searching for specialized legal jobs, to give you a flavor for intellectual property law. It will try to give you a very general insight into an exciting and demanding area of law, and the employment prospects and legal jobs within this sector.
Intellectual property law covers the full range of technology and the arts, from records to computer software. Intellectual property law is the area of the law that includes patent law, copyright law and trademark law, together with some aspects of other branches of the law, such as licensing and unfair competition.
Recent times have witnessed an explosion in the field of intellectual property and solicitor jobs in this area. Even when other markets for the services of legal practices are affected by recession, the demand for intellectual property solicitor jobs typically remains high. As long as people invent or create, there is a need for intellectual property lawyers to protect and enforce intellectual property rights.
There are certain areas of the country which have a higher concentration of firms working within Intellectual Property. Any area with a high volume of technology firms or companies in the pharmaceutical sector tends to have legal practices supporting the IP function.
The Thames valley area around Oxford and Reading, Cambridge and London are all hot beds for Intellectual Property law. The practice is a people-oriented profession. The solicitor works with a wide range of clients, from small-business owners to top management officials of large corporations.
For many businesses, obtaining intellectual property protection is a critical step in an integrated business activity. The timing of the grant of protection affects a company’s marketing, sales, personnel practices, and research and development efforts. The process of obtaining protection brings the solicitor into close working contact with professionals in many business areas.
Intellectual property law provides a unique opportunity to utilize a degree or prior professional experience with the practice of law. In fact those individuals combining a background within medicine, chemistry or technology with the law are highly sought after.
Many companies hire intellectual property lawyers as in-house counsel. These lawyers develop an expertise in the technology of their corporations, and are often closely involved in business decisions relating to the protection of intellectual property and other related matters. This can provide the solicitor with a greater feeling of contribution to the business and greater satisfaction in watching their function have an effect on its overall success.
Many legal firms throughout the United Kingdom have become niche specialists in intellectual property law. Also large general practice firms will tend to have law departments. Working within Private Practice will often give a Solicitor a wider variety of work and this can be both contentious and non-contentious in nature.
The overall workload can be greater in private practice and billing targets have to be met so this route can be quite demanding.
There are a number of different paths open to intellectual property solicitors and allows each person to choose a practice best suited to that person’s overall objectives.