Celebrating 10 years! 2007-2017

Got asked to leave my firm (patent litigation)

Ok, so I'm a 7th year associate and partnership time is comi chocolate05/10/17
While it sucks, I'd just add that based on your history and jd4hire05/10/17
"I'm a 7th year associate and partnership time is coming aro dingbat05/10/17
"Because, if you don't have a book of business, partnership heythere05/10/17
I think you should target areas that have patent heavy docke ipesq05/10/17
My impression is that legitimate patent litigation is declin patenttrollnj05/10/17
Patent litigation now is to a large extent just pharma work. heythere05/10/17
Depending on where you're located, my firm may be interested russophile05/10/17
Stop worrying about the number of firms on your resume. The mrtor05/10/17
Agreed regarding the firms, 3 in 7 years is not bad at all. loblawyer05/10/17
I think the standard "track" in big law is now around 9 year retard05/10/17
In-house is your best bet. You could also explore starting a thirdtierlaw05/10/17
"In-house is your best bet." Sorry that's not it. Tech imoothereforeim05/11/17
I will partially disagree with imoo. True the ratio of in-h wutwutwut05/12/17
chocolate (May 10, 2017 - 11:09 am)

Ok, so I'm a 7th year associate and partnership time is coming around. Unfortunately, my firm's patent litigation practiced has slowed down significantly (almost to 0) so the firm is giving me the boot. Fortunately, I have some time (no hard deadline to leave as of now), but I'm kind of screwed. I'm too senior to lateral to most other firms, and patent litigation is just generally slow for everybody.

Another downside is that this is my third firm. I have a little patent prosecution experience, but not much.

The upsides are that all of my 3 firms have been big AmLaw firms. Plus I went to a top 5 law school.

I live in a major Southern city. I started my career in New York and I kind of want to go back.

What are my options? I'm thinking in-house is the best way to go, or possibly start a solo practice.

Any ideas?

Thanks in advance!!

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jd4hire (May 10, 2017 - 11:21 am)

While it sucks, I'd just add that based on your history and credentials, it seems you will land on your feet.

I'd touch base with all the annoying recruiters who have bothered you in the past, search goinhouse.com (or something to that effect), and scan all job sites on a regular basis. Goes without saying, but I'd be doing this while at work and try and set something in place ASAP so you have a smooth transition.

If possible, I'd also create a nice month or two of vacation. Go on a trip you've always wanted to do, but down have the time for.

Sorry about the lay off though.

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dingbat (May 10, 2017 - 11:26 am)

"I'm a 7th year associate and partnership time is coming around"

Do you have a book of business? Because, if you don't have a book of business, partnership time is not coming around. You're being terminated because you're too expensive to keep around. A 4th year associate is (almost) as good as a 7th year associate, and costs noticeably less. If they were busy, they'd keep you around rather than onboard someone else, but, no way do they make someone partner who doesn't have a book of business. If that's the case, I'd recommend going in-house

If you do have a book of business, you can leverage that to get a position at a firm, or use it to go solo

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heythere (May 10, 2017 - 9:27 pm)

"Because, if you don't have a book of business, partnership time is not coming around." Most Junior partners in big law do not have a book of business. They are just really good at servicing an important client. It costs the firm less to continue to raise salaries than taking a chance that the business walks out the door with the associate. In the long run, continuity in servicing a big client keeps that client tied to the firm through thick and thin. After 2008, there were not that many firm changes with big clients leaving a big law firm for another big law or regional law firm.

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ipesq (May 10, 2017 - 12:08 pm)

I think you should target areas that have patent heavy dockets (Texas, So Cal and Nor Cal). Hiring in IP does not seem to slow down in these geographic areas. I'm contacted quite a lot.

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patenttrollnj (May 10, 2017 - 12:11 pm)

My impression is that legitimate patent litigation is declining due to its tremendous expense. Companies seem to be reluctant about filing lawsuits, choosing instead to either arbitrate and/or share portfolios. These days, most patent litigation is scam "patent troll" type cases, which are handled by a tiny number of second rate pettifoggers. So what happened at your firm is probably something other firms are also experiencing.

PriceWaterhouseCooper (or one of those big accounting firms) did a study on the subject that they have published online. Try to find it (or any followup study) before you make a decision on how you should move forward. It may help shed some light on what is really happening in the world of patent law.

Also, regarding prosecution, it is very dry work (I've been doing it now for over 10 years). It won't be easy making the transition, should you decide to do prosecution.

You seem to have a good resume, thus you still have many good career options. However, be advised that the NY market is flooded. Not worth returning.

Good luck!

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heythere (May 10, 2017 - 9:29 pm)

Patent litigation now is to a large extent just pharma work. After the Samsung/Apple debacle, in-house counsels are thinking twice before litigating rather than settling.

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russophile (May 10, 2017 - 12:50 pm)

Depending on where you're located, my firm may be interested. Post a throwaway email address and I will message you.

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mrtor (May 10, 2017 - 4:54 pm)

Stop worrying about the number of firms on your resume. The days of working for one firm your entire career are waning and it is becoming far more acceptable to move around. That being said, you are nearing or past the point of partnership in private practice, especially if you have not already cultivated a good book of business. Not to say that's a bad thing. Not everyone is intended to take that route and you may look back and thank yourself that you didn't.

I think your best bet is to try to go in-house. Get on the horn with some good recruiters and see what they can drum up.

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loblawyer (May 10, 2017 - 9:43 pm)

Agreed regarding the firms, 3 in 7 years is not bad at all. I know the 7 years to partner or bust is relatively rigid in biglaw, but in small law, someone making it that quickly is really good at developing a book of business. It tends to be closer to 10-15 years to make partner outside biglaw, at least in my market, and there are plenty of career associates out there as well.

I agree with the general advice to look at in house as your credentials seem stellar. But, midlaw and small law should be viable for you as a lateral without any business.

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retard (May 10, 2017 - 9:46 pm)

I think the standard "track" in big law is now around 9 years.

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thirdtierlaw (May 10, 2017 - 7:52 pm)

In-house is your best bet. You could also explore starting a solo practice. But I wouldn't go that route unless you at least have a book of business to cover your expenses. If you do not have that, it'd be hard to get a practice off the ground. Why would your clients want you over a major firm? Patent litigation is expensive, you're not going to get many walk-ins in that area of law.

The good news with the area is that it only takes one or two clients to make money.

You have good credentials so if you're willing to take a (big) pay cut, you may be able to move to a small midlaw practice in a secondary city. To get a qualified patent litigator in their firm, they may be willing to take the chance on you learning and practicing in other types of litigation.

Good luck!

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imoothereforeim (May 11, 2017 - 9:28 pm)

"In-house is your best bet."


Sorry that's not it. Tech companies don't hire that many patent lit attorneys. Going in-house even for pat pros and contract is extremely difficult, let alone for pat lit.

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wutwutwut (May 12, 2017 - 7:51 am)

I will partially disagree with imoo. True the ratio of in-house litigation managers to prosecutors is usually like 1:10 or lower.

Still, OP fits the profile of every one I know (15 or so). I frequently see in-house listings for patlit management lawyers.

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