The patent paralegal (or intellectual property paralegal) position can be very lucrative, but also very demanding. A patent paralegal must have a fine eye for detail and attention to deadlines. Lasting consequences follow missed deadlines for your clients in this field, so having the right tools and temperament for the job is a must. So what does an intellectual property paralegal do?
Working in Intellectual Property Law
The intellectual property paralegal or patent paralegal works in the legal field without a law degree, as a highly-qualified assistant to trained lawyers. Some paralegals eventually become lawyers, but many spend a lucrative and fulfilling career working as expert assistants to lawyers, as an integral part of the legal team. Paralegals, especially patent/intellectual property paralegals, are privy to sensitive information and responsible for decisions worth vast sums of money and, occasionally, lifetimes of preparation. A highly developed sense of ethics and personal responsibility is a prerequisite for success in this position.
Intellectual Property Paralegals vs. Patent Paralegals
The difference between an intellectual property paralegal (or IP paralegal) and a patent paralegal is not great. The patent paralegal is likely to be more of an expert in the field of patent law specifically. An IP paralegal may have a more generalized education across multiple areas of intellectual property law, including patents, trademarks, and related business/corporate law.
Patent Paralegal Salary
A patent paralegal’s salary is in line with the responsibility and dedication required for the position. According to the Patent Education Series website, the average patent paralegal salary is $52, 351, with more experienced Seniors earning over $60,000. The same is true for the intellectual property paralegal. The average intellectual property paralegal salary is around $64,000 but can go as high as $92,000, according to the same source. It’s really going to be a matter of personal fit whether the level of compensation available through the patent paralegal salary is worth the exacting nature of the job.
Training for Intellectual Property Paralegal Jobs
An intellectual property paralegal certificate can help you achieve the experience necessary to obtain an entry-level position, as can patent paralegal training. Patent paralegal training is available from independent bodies and accredited universities. Look for programs that include real-world experience and connect you to others already working in the field. The intellectual property certificate is just the beginning of a long career path, so take the steps to make sure you’re comfortable in the patent world early in your career.
The intellectual property paralegal job description often includes responsibilities such as creation, revision, and filing of patent documents; reviewing and maintaining a docket; and managing all forms of client communication, according to Law Crossing. When you enter the job market, read each intellectual property paralegal job description carefully to determine your fit, but do not be discouraged if you don’t have every skill on the list. A job description is usually the “wish list” for the perfect overqualified candidate who’s willing to be underpaid. Most managers are very realistic about the nature of filling entry-level positions, and the training/on-the-job experience that is often required.
Deciding if an Intellectual Property Paralegal Certificate is for You
Start with the questions, “What does a patent paralegal do?” and “What does an intellectual property paralegal do?”. Talk to advisors in the programs you’re considering to feel out some of the fine distinctions between the two positions, and remember that the two may often be held by the same individuals over the course of a career.
Once you understand the ins and outs of the position requirements, you’ll be able to decide if the training is something you want to pursue. Consider starting with an internship, if possible, (or at least finding one early in your training process) to get exposure to the work environment and real-world questions a patent paralegal is faced with. Remember as you train that someday others will come to you with their questions – so when you’re asked, “What does an intellectual property paralegal do?”, what will you tell the next round of trainees? How can you help up-and-coming new experts understand what’s going to be asked of them and the rigors of the job?
Making a Difference Through Patent Paralegal Services
If you can become a competent, trusted provider of patent paralegal services, you have secured a position with an excellent salary and fairly predictable workloads, one where you can make a career as an expert and one where you can truly help people – from inventors making their dreams come true to the individuals helped by protected inventions, whether medicines or technological advancements. Patent paralegal services are sought after for a reason and can make you a trusted advisor to powerful people, if you’re willing to put in the time to make a career in the industry.