Remembering TCPaul, 2016-2019

IP Boutique vs. Big Law

I'm a new patent lawyer (graduated and passed Bar last year) fignewtons200004/14/19
What are your hourly requirements and salary at your your cu blakesq04/14/19
Boutique - 1850 hours at $150k Big Law - 1950 hours at $1 fignewtons200004/14/19
1. Depends on the sophistication of your boutique as compare interveningrights04/14/19
What’s your long-term career goal? If you want to make par midlaw04/14/19
One thing to consider tho is that is is MUCH easier to hit b justdoingok04/14/19
So I ended up accepting the Big Law job offer. $190k plus ni fignewtons200004/23/19
Good luck, wo/man. It'll be what you make of it. Plenty of wutwutwut04/23/19
fignewtons2000 (Apr 14, 2019 - 3:10 am)

I'm a new patent lawyer (graduated and passed Bar last year). Currently at an IP boutique with a mixed practice (50% litigation, 50% prosecution). I have the opportunity to jump to a big law firm for a patent litigation position (no chance of prosecution work in this position, only litigation). I have a few questions...

1. What are the pros and cons of an IP Boutique vs. Big Law?

2. If I wait 3-5 years to move laterally to solely focus on patent litigation, will it be too late? I have a mixed practice now, and the concern I have is that if I wait to transition to focus solely on litigation, will I be at a disadvantage to my peers who have only done litigation since day 1?

3. Is it too early to move laterally after 6 months post-graduation? Regardless of the difference between boutique and big law, is a lateral move this early in my career going to be a black mark on my resume going forward?

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blakesq (Apr 14, 2019 - 9:21 am)

What are your hourly requirements and salary at your your current firm versus the hourly requirements and salary at your potential big law firm? That should be all the information you need. My guess is biglaw will probably pay you more but work you to your bones and spit you out when you can’t take it anymore.

If you’re doing both litigation and prosecution at your current firm, then waiting 3 to 5 years will not affect you one way or the other if you want to get into litigation, IMHO.

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fignewtons2000 (Apr 14, 2019 - 4:22 pm)

Boutique - 1850 hours at $150k

Big Law - 1950 hours at $190k plus $10k signing bonus, way better benefits

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interveningrights (Apr 14, 2019 - 3:46 pm)

1. Depends on the sophistication of your boutique as compared to the law firm you to which you are moving.There are boutiques that rival big law in quality of training and sophistication of work.

2. Not necessarily. A PTAB reg is helpful for some litigation related proceedings such as IPRs. It really depends on the needs of the firm. Some positions require more technically skilled individuals.

3. No as long as you have a good reason. People are more concerned about the credentials early on over long term retention, especially in biglaw.

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midlaw (Apr 14, 2019 - 6:15 pm)

What’s your long-term career goal? If you want to make partner and stay in private practice and can be a business originator, you MIGHT be better off in the boutique. If you want to move in-house at some point, biglaw is almost certainly the way to go.

Also, are those hourly requirements “billed” or “billable,” because biglaw and boutiques sometimes treat those differently.

Also, how prominent is the boutique? A lot of crappy firms out there masquerading as boutiques.

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justdoingok (Apr 14, 2019 - 7:13 pm)

One thing to consider tho is that is is MUCH easier to hit billables doing litigation. So 1950 may not be bad in a busy lit practice. Whereas 1850 in a pros/lit blend could be tough. All else being equal, it’s nice to get the stamp of biglaw on your resume for later in your career.

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fignewtons2000 (Apr 23, 2019 - 12:09 am)

So I ended up accepting the Big Law job offer. $190k plus nice signing bonus. Top notch patent lit team and not looking back. Wish me luck, and hopefully I'm not burned out in a year.

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wutwutwut (Apr 23, 2019 - 12:39 am)

Good luck, wo/man. It'll be what you make of it. Plenty of people survive and some even thrive on biglaw lit.


It's certainly easier to make your hours each month, absent something like a large economic downturn where corps hold off suing each other for infringement.

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