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Pros and cons of Patent Lit v Patent Pros v EC VC if you are still early enough you can switch between the three (already in one just want to be sure I'm not making a mistake) and have a grad level EE degree? How is the lateral market in patent lit with the background?

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Hey - I’ve practiced patent prosecution and litigation. I also had interviews lined up to go to ECVC just at the beginning of the pandemic, just when the firms freezes hiring, so my interviews got canceled. I did prosecution in house (at two companies, one very large household, and one small med device start up). I also did prosecution at two boutiques (one pre law school and one post). I’m in patent/tech litigation now in a NY big law firm. I really enjoyed prosecution in house, but it’s also the least lucrative. You take a high level view of the patent portfolio and work closely with the engineering and product side of the company. It was great. And you outsource most of the boring work. The most exciting part was evaluating competitor products to get patents that would read on them. Value based prosecution. Prosecution at a firm is not the same. It’s very difficult (much harder than any other practice I’ve tried). It’s hard to bill and meet targets. There is a constant downward cost pressure. Firms make this work in a variety of ways, and it can still be profitable, but frankly the economics didn’t make sense to me. Also while you still talk to inventors and engineers, the relationship is not the same as the in house one. I also love my current job! As others mentioned, patent litigation is very much a litigation first job. I like drafting briefs, understanding the products, and analyzing the patents. Discovery work is plentiful so it’s easy to bill (but it is boring). I also like working with other litigation files (all tech related, like antitrust, contract, trade secrets, copyright…). The last part is what makes my job most enjoyable. FWITW I’ve had two FAANG companies asking to interview me recently. So it is possible to move from litigation to in house. I think it helps to keep a broad docket. I don’t have hands on experience with ECVC practice but what attracted me to it is that you’d work closely with the company, you’re their go to counsel. The con to me is that the docs are likely going to be highly similar and the work repetitive. I suspect it’s less profitable than other areas.

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I work in patent pros and have a PhD so I’ll chime in. I have no experience with lit and EC VC. Patent pros would welcome your background regardless of age/prior exp assuming you are willing to be compensated as a first year. What specific pros/cons are you looking for? Im assuming you know what patent pros is about.

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For exit, patent pros gives you a lot of options and I know lit tends to have fewer options. I have no idea about ECVC. For example, many patent pros associates move in-house and for the ones that make partner then move, they tend to run entire IP departments.

Patent litigator here. You need to really love litigating, because we’re in court a lot.

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I didn’t love the relative inability to go in house when compared with corporate, even though it’s still more common than other types of litigation.

EV VC will have drastically better exit opportunities than patent lit or patent pros. Partnership odds will be poor in biglaw regardless of specialty (patent lit was a boom area 10-15 years ago with appreciably better odds, but that’s subsided a bit).

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Partnership odds are very firm specific. I encourage you to do your own research on this by looking at the recent promotion trends of the firms you are interested in.

What are your career goals?

Maximize long term expected profit and ROI accounting for the possibility of striking out of Biglaw and needing to pivot.

Agreed, I think it is possible for patent litigators to go in house, but probably after more years of experience than say corporate.

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