Sunday, November 25, 2007

Waiting for an offer...

I had one of those good conversations with my wife the other day where I felt really good that she was able to hear me. I confided in her that I was scared for us and for our son because it didn't look like a job was going to happen any time soon. [I know I wasn't going to dwell on this, but it is on my mind.]

I've been joking with myself and with G-d that maybe I'll go back to school for an EE degree. But all this time, I've been hoping to just get a job and start working. I've been going on interviews for non-patent related jobs (one even as a paralegal), but surprisingly, nothing has turned into an offer.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

I'm annoyed (and scared) that you have a degree and you come from a top school and yet you still have problems getting an IP job.

I've received a few e-mails and comments from people who are in the same place as I am... Married with a child, survived law school, passed the bar, passed the patent bar, but have no technical science background, or at least no undergraduate degree they can use to get a job at a patent law firm.

Yet I don't want you to join my pity party. My posts are my feelings and my expressions. There is work for people who can handle the technical side of it. While I cannot (yet), I will be able to soon.

Then there are those of you who compassionately tell me "you barked up the wrong tree. Patent law is not for you, neither is IP law." While you might be right, there is nothing else I could do except knock down doors and make it happen, because being past the USPTO exam, I am too far along to just say "oh well." [RANT:] I might not be an ivy league lawyer who carries my school name as a badge in order to get ahead in life, but I *am* an authentic lawyer who worked extremely hard to get where I am.

For some reason, the world is all screwy and the prestige of the school you come from determines who will hire you or even look at your resume. I hope to G-d that one day your badge burns and employers look at you for who you are, not what school mascot is on your ring. If I could have gone to a top school, I would have, but unlike your natural talents (a.k.a. minimal effort, maximum reward), I worked day and night studying like who knows what to ace the LSATs, but instead, my score was only slightly above average, as has always been the case when it came to my schooling, my grades, and my education.

I went to a state school for college because that was all I was told I could ever attend. I applied to two schools, got into both of them, and attended the one that was more in line with my aspirations. (Believe it or not, in high school, my guidance counselor told me, "perhaps you are not the kind of person that should go to college.") Even in high school, I ambitiously reached for the advanced placement classes and the honors classes [which consequently caused my grades to decline because the work was so much harder and I even got kicked out of AP European History because I wasn't understanding the material like my classmates were] while the morons in remedial classes got into Yale.

I went to college against my guidance counselor's advice and I worked hard to survive in college. Then when it came to doing the work, I always worked as hard as I could, and the same went for the LSAT studies. But my scores were what they were and my school was the best I could have gotten into, and I am a lawyer today because I did the best I could. We didn't have curves in our school that make everyone look like they have a 4.0 like you do. We had to work hard for our grades, and one day I hope someone finds that out.

Ending my flow of feelings and anger towards those who had it easy in life (and respecting those who sincerely worked for what they achieved without shortcuts from mommy and daddy), I feel that doors into the elite world of ivy have always been closed to me because at some point in the past I chose to reach for the top and I couldn't cut it. But I always wonder why are my grades always haunting me? I was always an average student, often above average, but not by that much. I wonder how much chance I ever had at getting to my goals, or have the odds been stacked against me from the beginning. Okay, obviously I'm in a bad mood and its because I'm tired and it is 4am and I must get to sleep.

Overall on this blog, I need to get onto other topics. My job life (or lack thereof) has been quite depressing lately, and I'm sure it has been a bore for you too. Nevertheless, I have a feeling that life will be changing very shortly. This blog is meant to be for personal development, not for those to join me in a puddle of stagnation about my lack of opportunities and G-d's sense of humor.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Philips presents the future of pregnancy.

Now based on what happened with our pregnancy, I'm not exactly for probing into the womb to check in on the baby except for justified medical reasons where there is a cause for concern, however I was floored and highly impressed by the technology shown in this video.

What happened with our pregnancy was that the doctors did the usual ultrasound and did their measurements on my wife. They determined that my wife was carrying too much water and that the baby was not growing properly. We went for a second ultrasound a month later when the doctors told us that our baby most likely either had Downs Syndrome or would be a dwarf. The doctor suggested that although it is illegal in our state state to do an abortion, that we consider going to another state to get one.

Being frum, my wife and I were horrified at the suggestion and after the doctor suggested a procedure called amniocentesis where they surgically invade the womb to check for Downs Syndrome with a needle, we said thank you and declined, and we NEVER WENT BACK FOR ANY FOLLOW-UP APPOINTMENTS.

For months, we were prepared for something to be genetically incorrect with our son, and Baruch Hashem (thank G-d), he came out perfect. Now he is five months old, and every time we think of that story, we cringe.

We kept this story a secret from pretty much everyone we knew (except for my mashpia who told me that this is likely not a problem because doctors typically over-diagnose just to be safe to protect themselves from a lawsuit just in case something really was wrong), but after hearing my wife speak about it openly, I felt that it was appropriate to share this story with you.

November Job Status Update

Wow, it's been three months since my last post.

To bring you up to date, nothing much in terms of results in getting a patent attorney job has changed. I've been on a few interviews, and in each interview, I've been hearing the same thing:
"So, you have a philosophy degree, eh? Do you know about X [usually something like communications]? What about Y [then something about hi-tech or biotech or something like that]? Well, if you don't know about these areas, then you will be unable to prosecute the patents for the clients we serve. We are looking for someone who has a Z degree (they usually say electrical engineering here), and without that degree, you are of no use to us. We'll get back to you and let you know."
At that point, the interview typically ends.

...So the short and skinny of it is that it doesn't look like I'll be getting a job as a patent attorney, and so I'm so close to giving up and changing fields that my heart hurts at the prospect of this move.

To adjust, the past week I've looked into patent/Intellectual Property (IP) litigation, but while it is difficult to get into it, I feel that is the best home for my skills and my abilities. However, it is a dim chance that someone will hire me without experience, so I need to find some litigation job (state/federal/general/local) that will give me experience and motion practice ideally in the federal courtroom, and once I have a few years of that experience, I'll be able to side-step into an IP litigation firm and use my patent attorney license to litigate patent infringement issues.

This is a sad turn of events for me, but the reality of it is that at least I'm realizing where I am and where I need to be. I just wish I learned this hard fact that A PATENT ATTORNEY FROM A LOW-TIERED LAW SCHOOL WITHOUT A HARD TECHNICAL SCIENCE DEGREE CANNOT PRACTICE AS A PATENT ATTORNEY.

Additionally, my wife and I are moving out of our apartment in the end of November, so we're looking for a Jewish (preferably Chabad/Lubavich) community to move into, and it doesn't matter which state we go to, as long as the cost of living is reasonable.

All this being said, I feel good. I am a tatty, and my son is 5 months old, and there is Shalom Bayis (peace) between my wife and myself, even though I know me not having a job is quite stressful for her. That being said, we are not poor, chos v'sholom, as I have always been smart about saving for a storm, and it is raining. We have literally just a few liquid dollars in the bank and so things are very tight, but I am hoping we will make it through and G-d will provide for us by somehow getting me hired at a law firm.

Lastly, I know that G-d doesn't make mistakes, and everything is done for a reason. Thus, while I cannot see His mater plan for me and my family, I know that I didn't just waste over a year taking and passing the patent bar exam and wasting my time applying to literally hundreds of patent prosecution firms. Somehow, my patent attorney license must come into use at some point in the future, because otherwise it would have been a waste and I don't think G-d would do that to me, especially since I've been working so hard to be his servant.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Follow-up: Whether to go back to school.

[I am sneakily inserting this post into my blog and back-dating it so that I don't mess up the look of the site.]

The issue I have been dealing with is whether or not to go back to school. Obviously from my discussions with literally 30-40 patent attorneys on this subject, they have all said the same thing -- a patent attorney must have a technical science degree to practice patent law.

While I have been on the dream that I can get around this because I have 40 science credits (pre-med undergrad) and because I was eligible for, took, and passed the USPTO patent registration exam, I need to face reality -- namely, that either I go back to school or I drop the crusade of becoming a patent attorney.

The main degree that law firms want these days is an electrical engineering (EE) degree, or a PhD in Chemistry/Biology/or the other hard sciences. Computer science is the next in the list, but few firms want this over an EE degree. After this, all the other engineering degrees (mechanical, etc) are next in the list.

My wife and I have determined that it makes no sense to go back to school full-time and become a student again because we have a baby and my wife is no longer working and is home full-time with the baby, so the burden of paying our rent is on me alone. Thus, enrolling full-time as a student no longer is financially an option, so we have looked into part-time and online programs, and here is what I've found.

The State University of New York (SUNY) has a Bachelor of Electrical Engineering program, but it is not a 4-year program. Rather, it kicks in only once you've completed the first two-years of the program. So, I'm around 1.5 years away from getting all the pre-requisites to even enter this program, and then once I do, it is only a two-year program if you are a full-time student (15-18 credits per semester). Part time (e.g. 6 credits per semester, this program will take around 4-5 years to complete). This is a killer solution, but it is a killer on our finances and our life.

The next solution we found is a Masters in Computer Science at Ellis College (NY Institute of Technology) which could be finished in a year and a half, but it is quite expensive and I'm not sure how firms would value this degree. The SUNY program does not disclose on the degree that it was an online program, but this degree gives it away based on the school that would be on the degree which gives it a lower value. Plus, I am not sure how much computer science patent attorneys are in demand, especially from an online part-time school that is not so highly valued. Lastly, to enter this program, I also have around a year of pre-requisites to take before even being accepted into the program -- funny enough, the pre-requisite courses are the same as those for the electrical engineering program (e.g. Linear Algebra, Programming, etc.)

So far I haven't found any other alternatives. If I don't go into school, I feel as if being a patent attorney is no longer a real option as a field to practice in, and I would need to find another field. The difficult thing is that coming from my low-tiered school, I was relying on the USPTO patent attorney license to raise me up from the reputation of my school and convince a firm to overlook where I come from. Please don't get me wrong -- I love my school. However, the real statistics are that *if* a graduate from my school passes the bar exam (which I did after some real studying), there is a slim-to-none chance that he or she will find a respectable job, if ever. Without working in a specialized field, I feel like I am just another one of the pack searching for the generalist low-paying jobs, and I wonder why I went to law school in the first place.