The Patent Law Interview Program, or PLIP for short, usually takes place the last week of July or the first week of August in Chicago. I have attended PLIP for many years and believe it is a great place to connect with IP focused students. Each year I am astounded by the caliber of students who attend PLIP. As competition for summer associate positions intensifies, PLIP is a great way to meet with potential employers early on in the interviewing season. If you have yet to decide whether to attend PLIP, below are my top four reasons to attend. Once you decide to attend PLIP, below are my seven “keys to success” at PLIP.
Top 4 Reasons to Attend PLIP
1. IP Focused. If you are a student interested in IP law, you should definitely attend this job fair. PLIP is usually the first interview opportunity of the Fall for many firms. The firms that attend this job fair are highly motivated to find strong IP students, and often fill summer associate positions as a result of attending this job fair.
2. Early job offers. What could be better than knowing that you have a job offer from a firm, all because you attended PLIP? Many firms conduct office interviews and extend job offers 2-3 weeks after PLIP. Although you may still be interviewing with other firms, having an offer in the hand will relieve some tension during this stressful time.
3. Opportunity to interview with firms not visiting Santa Clara in the Fall. PLIP affords you the opportunity to meet with firms that may not be visiting Santa Clara in the Fall. This is especially pertinent as more and more firms elect to only consider candidates they meet on campus or at job fairs.
4. The positive first impression. This is your first chance to make a positive first impression with a potential employer. Even if you did not secure an interview slot through the bidding process, you should definitely take advantage of meeting with firm recruiters and attorneys in their hospitality suites. Be prepared to highlight your background and why you are interested in a particular firm. Many recruiters will keep notes on the candidates who visit the hospitality suites, and with a little bit of luck, you may secure an interview or callback.
7 Keys to Success at PLIP
1. Create firm cheat sheets. Research all the firms attending PLIP and create one page (or less) cheat sheets for the firms you are interested in. You should know which practice areas a firm is known for, who the interviewers are, and which offices and practice areas you want to be considered for. For example, nothing is worse than letting a hiring partner know that you are interested in their firm’s Atlanta office…when they are only based in Boston. Review the cheat sheet before stepping foot in a hospitality suite or interview room and you will project confidence.
2. Prepare application packages, not application materials. Prepare separate application packages ahead of time for the firms you are interested in. You should create a unique cover letter for each firm. Behind each cover letter, attach a resume, writing sample and unofficial copies of all academic transcripts (undergraduate, graduate and law school). Clip all your materials together neatly at the corner with a binder clip. When you walk into a hospitality suite or interview room, you can easily hand all of your materials to the representative without having to search in your bag for each individual piece. And, a word of advice: although glossy folders look nice, they are harder for recruiters to review. Help us help you: use a clip.
3. Dress the part. Wear a suit. Period.
4. Accessorize the part. You do not need to carry too much with you at PLIP. Carry a padfolio or slim briefcase with a notepad, pen, your firm cheat sheets, and extra copies of application packages. You want to look like a future professional and not a student: leave the backpack in the hotel room.
5. Be client ready. Firms are looking for future professionals who project confidence and who can be placed in front of a client. Be neat in appearance and use perfume and/or cologne sparingly, if at all.
6. The elevator speech. Be prepared to introduce yourself to future employers. Keep it brief, friendly, professional, and be sure to include all pertinent information: your name, law school, class year, background (technical or non-technical), and why you are interested in a particular firm or practice area. Be prepared with 1-2 appropriate questions that illustrate that you have done your research and have a sincere interest in the firm. At all costs, do not start a conversation with, “So, tell me about your firm.”
7. It’s not quantity…it’s quality. Each year, PLIP hosts a reception after the first full day of interviews. Take this opportunity to show potential employers that you can be professionally appropriate in social situations…this is a very valuable business development skill. The same advice holds true when visiting hospitality suites. Students who are able to speak with me for 4-6 minutes and exit gracefully always impress me…sometimes enough to offer a callback interview.
Lee Anne Masetti-Martin
Lee Anne Masetti-Martin is the US Patent Recruiting Manager for Morrison & Foerster LLP, an international law firm with 17 offices. Lee Anne regularly participates in on-campus interviews, networking events and career fairs for law students, graduate students, attorneys, scientists and engineers, and is responsible for managing targeted recruitment programs for Morrison & Foerster’s Patent Prosecution and IP Litigation Groups. Lee Anne has been in the legal recruiting field for over 14 years, has reviewed thousands of resumes, has interviewed and evaluated candidates, and has served as an informal counselor to patent agents, summer associates and attorneys.