Intellectual Property Lateral Trends – The Not So Obvious

Happy World IP (Intellectual Property) Day, and welcome to the first installment of Parker + Lynch’s “Lateral IP Trends” series. The series will be in three parts, as long as I can contain my excitement about the topic! As a legal recruiter, and a former chemical engineering patent attorney who practiced at an incredible intellectual property boutique, this is a subject I am well-versed in and passionate about. But this isn’t (only) for my enjoyment. The series will give you an informed, not-so-obvious overview of the market to help you decide if now is the right time to make a lateral move.

We’ll look at the trends in intellectual property lateral hiring for associates, patent agents/tech specs, counsels and partners. For now, let’s focus on law firm placements.

What We’re Seeing in Intellectual Property Lateral Hiring

Parker + Lynch has seen an upward trend in law firm IP placements over the last few years. A full 75 percent of our IP placements in 2016 were at AmLaw firms. In 2017, that number of placements jumped by 40 percent. In last year’s strong market, 71 percent of the placements were at AmLaw firms, with the remaining placements being at boutique and regional firms.

If you thought last year’s market was good, take a look at this year’s projections. Basic extrapolation of our year-to-date placements has us increasing our placements by 30 percent over last year. It’s a 2-year increase of 80 percent. While this is subject to change and is dependent on timing, this says two things. First, the IP market is significantly heating up. Second, firms and candidates are increasingly turning to Parker + Lynch for their lateral IP needs. Personally, I have found both to be true.

In Boston, where I am based, we currently have an abundance of firms that have reached out to us directly for help filling their IP needs, both posted and unposted. These firms range from IP boutiques to regional mid-size firms to large AmLaw firms. Life sciences are currently taking the lead, with most positions requiring an advanced degree, and electrical engineering and computer science is a close second. One of my colleagues even placed a Scientific Advisor (PhD, but not USPTO registered) at an AmLaw firm. But the biggest change we’ve seen has been on the tech transactions side. Firms are eager to consider a patent prosecution candidate for tech transaction roles, and the candidates are flocking to them. Tech transactions allow you the chance to combine your IP skills with your transactional knowledge to focus on the “fun” aspects of IP, like licensing.

We’re Here to Help

I’d love to discuss your background and give you insight into the IP market. With 37 offices across the country, Parker + Lynch has a deep knowledge of your market and can elaborate on trends in individual markets and specialties. And don’t forget, with the addition of attorneys and agents comes the need for support staff. I would not have been able to do my job as a patent associate without the help of my fantastic assistants, docketing clerks. Look for additional installments further breaking down these numbers, and including in-house positions. Enjoy World IP Day!

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