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Intellectual Property Law Careers – How To Succeed As An IP Lawyer

The wide variety of careers for lawyers within the field of intellectual property law all focus on the legal issues surrounding intangible property. These can include copyrights, trademarks, and patents, as well as other aspects of IP like trade secrets and rights of publicity.

Being an IP lawyer can mean doing advisory work, transactional work, litigation or some combination of any or all of those.

Today’s guest, intellectual property lawyer Michael Kelber of Neal, Gerber & Eisenberg in Chicago, has an engineering background and does a broad mix of work that includes IP litigation and transactional work in the areas of patent law, copyright and trademarks. Michael tells us all about intellectual property law careers and shares what he considers to be the most exciting part of being an IP lawyer.

  Join JD Careers Out There for access to this video plus more day-in-the-life career path interview videos & transcripts.

Today’s Guest

Intellectual property lawyer Michael KelberIntellectual Property Attorney Michael Kelber
Title: Partner, Neal, Gerber & Eisenberg
City: Chicago, IL
Law School: IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law in Chicago, IL
College: University of Illinois in Champaign, IL
Previous Career: Telecommunications at MCI Communications

Being An IP Lawyer

Intellectual property law careers deal with protecting intangibles that can range from the copyright on a song or screenplay to the trademark on a logo or bottle design to the patent on a software’s unique process or a medical device’s unique function.

IP lawyers get to work with creators and inventors, as well as new products and processes that the public may not have seen yet and that may change a little or big part of the world.

Depending on the position, these careers for lawyers can get very technical. Being an IP lawyer focused on patents often requires a background in engineering just to fully understand a client’s invention. In fact, to be able to apply and fight for client patents (“patent prosecution”) and to be a patent litigator, it’s required that IP lawyers pass an additional bar exam called the patent bar.

Many law firms won’t even hire IP lawyers without degrees in electrical, mechanical or chemical engineering. Michael gives a good overview of being an IP lawyer in this career video.



This is a preview of the video transcript on intellectual property law careers.

Join JD Careers Out There for access to the full version of this transcript plus the career video library & transcripts.

Luber: Hey everyone, today on JD Careers Out There we’re exploring what it’s like to be an IP lawyer. It’s gonna be interesting stuff – so stick around! [theme song]

Alright, as you may already know, at JDCOT we explore career paths both in and out of law to help you find a career that fits you and help you succeed using your law degree.

I’m your host Marc Luber, the founder of JDCOT. I’ve always used my law degree to work in alternative careers for lawyers – first in the music industry and then as a legal recruiter. I’ve been helping lawyers with their careers since 2003 and I’m excited for the opportunity to help you.

Today’s guest is Michael Kelber, an IP Partner at Neal Gerber & Eisenberg in Chicago. Here’s a little look at our discussion where he tells us what an Intellectual Property Lawyer does.

Michael Kelber: Well I’m an intellectual property lawyer, and what that means is I basically help people protect their ideas, their inventions and their identity – help them protect them against competitors and establish themselves in the market place.

Luber: So then are you doing both trademark work and patent work?

Michael Kelber: I am. Actually I’m fortunate enough as an IP lawyer to have a pretty broad practice. So I practice in patents, trademarks, copyrights, rights of publicity and I also crossover in both litigation, transactional and counseling. So I have a pretty dynamic and broad practice area which keeps things fun.

Luber: Yeah, for sure. You can’t get bored if you’re juggling all that. That’s great. What’s the coolest part about this? I would think that the greatest thing is that you’re helping people with new creative ideas and bringing them to life and protecting those. Is that right?

Michael Kelber: That’s exactly right. I mean I started out in school as an engineer and decided I wanted to do something more in business.

And this career has really allowed me to do that because I get to be on the inside with companies, helping learn their new innovations, figuring out their marketing strategies, figuring out where they’re going with their products and then how to protect them, how to protect their identity, their brands; and so I’m kind of on the forefront of what companies are coming out with and what they’re doing.

It keeps things exciting. You get the first peek, if you’re on the patent side, particularly, or on the trademark side, where you’re trying to gain protection before somebody goes to market. So you get the inside scoop before the public does, often.

Luber: That’s exciting. I like that! You guys will learn lots more about intellectual property law careers from my full interview with Michael. He’ll talk more about what he does, how YOU can do it, how YOU can break in – and how to succeed once you’re there.

You’ll want to join the JDCOT membership for access to the full, in-depth career interviews & transcripts that will help you find and land a career that fits you. Check out what people are saying about JDCOT by clicking here.

Thanks again for watching everybody. I’m Marc Luber and I’ll see ya soon.

[theme song]

©2016 Careers Out There

What aspects of intellectual property law interest you? Copyrights? Trademarks? Patents? Let us know – share your thoughts in the Comments!

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Thinking of leaving the law? The best first step you can take is a good look in the mirror. START HERE:

it's free!
You’ll also get periodic updates, reminders & access to career guidance programs sent to your inbox. We respect your privacy. You can unsubscribe via a click at any time.