1. What is High Tech and Intellectual Property Law?

High Tech Law involves the representation of companies engaged in technological innovation, such as companies in the computer, internet, software and biotech industries. These companies routinely rely on intellectual property to protect their intangible assets, but they encounter many other interesting and complex issues requiring legal advice. High Tech law practices areas include Biotechnology, Corporate Transactions, Employment Law, Copyright Law, Trademark Law Intellectual Property Litigation, Patent Law, Technology Transactions, and Telecommunications.

2. Do I need a technical degree to practice High Tech Law?

Not necessarily. There are many areas of High Tech Law which do not require a technical degree, including Copyright, Trademarks, Corporate Transactions, Employment Law, Technology Transactions, Intellectual Property Law, Intellectual Property Litigation, and Telecommunications. You will need a technical background to take the Patent Bar (see Item 3 below). A technical background is not required for any other aspect of high tech law, although occasionally some high tech practice areas (such as patent litigators or those in the biotechnology field) often prefer applicants with technical or science backgrounds.

3. Do I need to take the Patent Bar? If yes, when?

Not necessarily. The Patent Bar is required in order to prosecute patent applications before the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), so you will only need to take it if you intend to practice patent prosecution. If you do plan on becoming a patent prosecutor, you may wish to study for and take the patent bar during the summer after your first (or second year) of law school. More information about the Patent Bar can be found at the USPTOs website.

4. Who employs high tech lawyers?

Large and medium-size firms: Most large and medium sized firms in the Silicon Valley provide legal services to high tech companies. Thus, they may be looking for new attorneys in a variety of practice areas, ranging from intellectual property and corporate law to employment, real estate and immigration law.

IP boutique law firms: In addition, boutique firms (often small and medium sized law firms) focus principally or exclusively on intellectual property law.

Companies: Many high tech companies employ in-house counsel. Often, these positions are difficult to obtain immediately after graduation. In-house legal departments often seek attorneys with prior law firm training. However, there are opportunities for law students to work for the legal department within a company as a legal intern or a law clerk.

Government: Students can also pursue positions with federal and state agencies. Agencies that employ new graduates in high tech capacities include the USPTO, the US Department of Justice and the US Federal Communications Commission.

Non-profit/Public Interest Organizations: Occasionally, there are opportunities to practice high tech law practice for non-profit and public interest organizations.

For more on this topic, read “Careers in Intellectual Property”

5. What should I do during law school to prepare for a high tech law career?

For more on this topic and a list of events, visit the High Tech Law Institute

To receive information about high tech events, sign up for email updates through the High Tech blog

6. What should I do

In my first year?
In general, the single best thing you can do to prepare for your career is to focus on your studies and demonstrate your mastery of legal principles. However, in addition, you might consider doing the following:

  • Fall: Attend LCS programs, conduct informational interviews to find out more about high tech law, and make an appointment to meet with an LCS advisor starting November 1st to develop your personal job search strategy
  • February: apply for the Loyola Patent Law Interview Program, held in August in Chicago
  • Spring semester: Attend the Silicon Valley High Tech Legal Career Fair held in the Spring at SCU
  • May: register for the SFIPLA Bay Area Job Fair held in the summer in San Francisco
  • Throughout the year: Attend on campus events like the High Tech Tuesday Speaker Series sponsored by the SIPLA

In the summer after my first year?

  • If you can find a paying job in high tech law for this summer, do that. If not:
  • Consider doing the Summer Study Abroad program
  • If you don’t, consider doing a Civil, Social Justice & High Tech Internship
  • Consider taking the patent bar exam if you qualify and if you want to become a member of the bar
  • Seek out an opportunity to become a research assistant for a professor
  • Apply for the Computer & High Tech Law Journal
  • Write a paper on high tech law
  • Conduct informational interviews and network

In my second year?

Fall:

  • Write your paper for the Computer & High Tech Law Journal
  • Take advantage of the IPA Mock On-Campus Interview Program
  • If you are interested in employment with large law firms or IP boutique firms, participate in the On-Campus Interview Program

February:

  • Apply for the Loyola Patent Law Interview Program and the SFIPLA Bay Area Job Fair

Spring semester:

  • Attend the Silicon Valley High Tech Legal Career Fair held in the Spring at SCU
  • May: register for the SFIPLA Bay Area Job Fair held in the summer in San Francisco

Throughout the year:

  • Attend on campus events like the High Tech Tuesday Speaker Series sponsored by the SIPLA
  • Consider participating in a High Tech Moot Court Competition

In the summer after my second year?

  • If you can find a paying job in high tech law for this summer, do that. If not:
  • Consider doing a Civil, Social Justice & High Tech Externship
  • Consider taking the patent bar exam if you qualify and if you want to become a member of the bar
  • Seek out an opportunity to become a research assistant for a professor
  • Write a paper or article on high tech law
  • Conduct informational interviews and network

In my third year?

Fall:

  • Take advantage of the IPA Mock On-Campus Interview Program
  • If you are interested in employment with large law firms or IP boutique firms, participate in the On-Campus Interview Program (a number of firms do consider 3Ls)

Fall/Spring:

  • Consider doing a Civil, Social Justice & High Tech Externship
  • Attend the Silicon Valley High Tech Legal Career Fair
  • Throughout the year: Attend on campus events like the High Tech Tuesday Speaker Series sponsored by the Student Intellectual Property Law Association
  • Consider participating in a High Tech Moot Court Competition
  • Network, network, network!

After the Bar?

  • Consider applying for temporary or contract work
  • Make an appointment to meet with the Assistant Director for Law Graduate Employment in Law Career Services or visit the LCS Alumni page.
  • Connect with other alumni
  • Volunteer with the local bar association or the Practicing Law Institute working at seminars and conferences will provide you with opportunities to both learn and network, network, network!

7. What Professional Organizations and Associations can I join or volunteer with to meet people and find out more?

Many professional organizations are available on Linkedin:

8. What additional resources should I check out for further information?

9. Who at SCU should I talk to for more information?

The following faculty members worked as high tech lawyers in the Silicon Valley: Colleen Chien, Eric Goldman, Anna Han, and Tyler Ochoa. A faculty list is available at the High Tech Law Faculty page.

You can also make an appointment with Law Career Services to discuss your personal career goals and to develop your personal job search strategy.

Finally, never underestimate the benefits of speaking with your classmates who have had internships, externships, or clerkships with High Tech legal employers!

top of page