Many law students and young lawyers are fascinated by the idea of working in IP law.
Many of them enjoy reading copyright law or patent law concepts and come to imagine that they will like IP law as a career.
Unfortunately, practicing IP law is nothing like discussing what is copyrightable and what is an inventive step in a patent claim in a classroom in law college.
I have met many young lawyers who joined some IP law firm after graduation out of this misconception and then were disillusioned within months. They leave after some time,
However, IP law is truly an amazing area of practice if you have the right expectations and you prepare for success. You have to understand that all IP jobs are not the same, and you have to pick the right ones. You also have to prepare yourself to get that job that you really want to land.
Landing a job is just step 1 though, imagine what step 10 looks like. You have to prepare for success in the job even before you get it, and that is the best way to deserve the job that you really want to land.
But before we go in that direction, you have to develop an understanding of what you want and why you want it.
Let me tell you why IP is one of the best legal careers to pursue in today’s day and age.
Please see if any of the reasons listed below resonates with you
Association with creativity and innovation
It is undeniable that IP law can expose you to more intellectual and finer aspects of human experience, especially creativity, art, and innovation as opposed to say capital markets, project finance, criminal law, or M&A!
Every piece of intellectual property has some creative aspects to it. If you are a creative or intellectual person, you may enjoy the proximity with art, innovation, literature. It is not just proximity, but engaging on a daily basis with art, literature, and innovation is pretty much the job of IP lawyers. Sure it will not feel that way if you are filing forms all day for registration of some kind of IP, but it gets better once you start getting seniority and work on contentious stuff.
There is no limit to what human beings can invent, and how far patent lawyers will go to assail or defend that innovation for their client’s commercial gains.
Imagine lawyers who have to watch movies or stand up comedy to determine whether it is original work or a copyright claim can be brought against it.
Or whether a trademark is deceptively similar to another!
As an IP lawyer, you also get many opportunities to come up with creative and innovative arguments as well, and that may satisfy your hunger for original work.
I, for example, love doing something creative. It quenches some kind of inner thirst for creativity and innovation. I guess that is why I absolutely love writing and have been trying to learn the piano.
It is often said that we should choose a profession that does not merely make money, but where our passion lies. Many young law graduates find it highly inspiring and intellectually stimulating to work on challenging IP matters.
Association with popular culture and cultural icons
A lot of people want to join IP law because they will get to work with their favorite stars, cultural icons, or popular brands.
This is true. IP lawyers do get to work with top scientists, authors, artists, creators, movie stars, even top sportspersons. They act for big brands as well.
How many of you will like to work with Marvel or DC or even Netflix? Maybe you will like to work for FIFA or IPL?
All of these companies need trademark lawyers all the time and sometimes, copyright lawyers too. Enforcing their branding rights and protecting their content from piracy all around the globe requires them to engage small armies of copyright and trademark lawyers.
You can also get to work with companies that are changing the direction of our civilization as a patent lawyer – such as Tesla, Qualcomm, or Alphabet – they all hire top patent lawyers all the time.
Intellectual property law practice is hot because of burgeoning tech and media sectors
As things stand today, technology and media are the two horsemen of IP Law.
The technology sector is seeing big growth thanks to emerging technologies – solar, 5G, biotech, automated transportation, e-commerce, fintech, food technology.
Media has been the fastest growing industry around the globe for the last 10 years and is likely to grow fast on the back of ubiquitous smartphone and internet connection.
Both of these sectors are IP intensive. Not only registration of patent, copyright, and trademark, but these industries are also generating a massive amount of work related to licensing, franchising, assignment of IP, IP prosecution as well as enforcement of IP rights globally.
Of course, there is considerable work from other sectors like manufacturing, FMCG, retail, fashion and luxury, and pharma as well, but tech and media have been the biggest drivers of growth.
It is important to note that due to a strong connection with these emerging sectors IP has not been particularly hit like most other areas of law practice after the pandemic. If you want a recession-proof career, IP is really solid for that.
IP law is an area of practice with a lot of international exposure and foreign clients
IP is by nature an international practice. If you are registering a patent, you probably want to cover several major markets around the world. Similarly, if you are looking to register a trademark, especially for a global or international brand, the scope for international work is massive as they probably want to register it in many different countries.
Also, you get a lot of high paying foreign clients if you are a good IP lawyer. A lot of work is related to global enforcement of IP apart from local work.
Also, IP law is pretty similar across the world. Most major economies today comply with the TRIPS agreement, which is an acronym for Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights. As a result of this, IP laws vary only in a minor way in different jurisdictions.
This gives IP lawyers a big advantage when it comes to creating an international practice, or even migrating to other jurisdictions including developing countries like the USA, Canada, or Australia that are rather migration friendly.
Many Indian lawyers have managed to get into international academia after studying IP law thanks to the cross-border relevance and similarity of IP laws. If you want to teach abroad after studying law in India, IP law specialization should be one of your top picks, apart from subjects like competition law and international trade.
IP law pays well
IP is a very well paid area of work because of the specialized nature of work, the criticality of performance, and rich corporate clients. Indian IP practice prospered after globalization as hordes of international MNCs landed in India to do business thanks to the opened markets.
As the global importance of India as a fast-growing market for consumer goods, technology, media, automobiles, and luxury items continue to grow, IP law practice in India will thrive.
As law firms continue to compete for talent, salary in IP law practice will remain strong.
Interestingly, over the years, high profile law firms in IP have shifted from doing a lot of registration to doing more litigation, as the IP law market had matured. In the future, we can expect more well-paid jobs for lawyers who are good at IP prosecution and IP litigation.
Top IP law firms pay between INR 70,000 – INR 1,00,000 at the entry-level to fresh lawyers, while tier 2 law firms pay between INR 40,000 – 70,000. Smaller shops can pay between INR 25,000 – 40,000. Partners with 10 years of experience can earn between INR 50 lakhs -1 crore or more. Of course, those who manage to set up their own law firms or even independent law practices and are able to attract clients independently grow fastest.
What do I do next if I am interested in a career in IP law?
Here are three things you should be doing if you are interested in IP law:
- Learn some of the most in-demand IP skills – skills for which demand is growing but supply is not able to catch up
- Find opportunities to apply those skills – so that you can build a proven track record
- Learn how to network with and present your trackrecord in a convincing manner to potential employers
- Find talent arbitrage opportunities – can you offer your skills in a different market, such as in the USA, where it will be more valued since remote work is mainstream now? Read more about this here.
Also, there are different kind of IP jobs, and not all of them need the same skills.
What are these jobs? What are the skills?
What are the global trends you need to watch out for.
We have written a series of articles to answer some of these questions.
You can start reading these articles if you have not already:
We are also inviting you to join our free workshop on “How to make an international career in IP law” – on 28th November, 6-9 pm. Please block your calendar and register here.
Does LawSikho have a course where you can help me to learn in-demand IP law skills?
Here is an IP law course LawSikho launched in association with Texas A&M University, School of Law, on IP law and prosecution. This 3 months course will teach you some of the most sought after skills that you will need to go global with IP as you will learn from a mix of US and Indian faculty, and guest lecturers from major IP markets all over the world.
This is an extraordinary course certified by one of the best IP law schools in the world, globally recognized, and nothing like any other course you have experienced to date. And this course are backed by an ironclad 30-45 days no-questions-asked money-back guarantee. You can read the refund policy here.
See you in the workshop on 28th November, 6 pm!
This article is a part of a 10 article series related to unique career opportunities and trends in IP law.