Thursday, November 17, 2011
The Quiet Revolution in Patent Law Dominance: The Rise of Suffolk University Law School in Boston’s Top Patent Firms
Betsy G. Roberti, Administrative Director of Academic Concentrations
Richard Buckingham, Electronic Services/Legal Reference Librarian
Professor Michael L. Rustad, Thomas F. Lambert Jr. Professor of Law and Co-Director of the IP Concentration
During the summer of 2011, the Concentrations, the Career Development Office and the Law Library embarked upon an empirical study, focusing particularly on where patent lawyers in Boston’s top-ranked IP firms had graduated from law school. Our goal was to determine which law school was the training ground for the most patent lawyers in Boston.
To gather data, we engaged in a comprehensive study of partners, associates, and non-attorneys working in patent law in Boston, based on the Avery Index of Top Patent Firms in Boston.* Our study took place from June 21st –24th, 2011, using the websites of the top 26 Boston patent firms to identify individuals working in some area of patent law. The graphs below were compiled using the data collected from the online biographical information about these individuals found on their firm websites. For a further explanation of the study’s methodology go to: http://www.law.suffolk.edu/academic/patentdata/methodology.cfm.
Take a quick look at the empirical findings of our study to see how Suffolk not only prevailed, but dominated, in the majority of categories considered.
Finding #1: Suffolk trained the largest number of partners, non-partner attorneys, and technology specialists working in patent law.
Without a doubt, with 149 alumni and current students, Suffolk trained the largest number of individuals in the study. In fact, the next school ranked a distant second, with only 75, or half as many as Suffolk.
Moreover, Suffolk dominated in the number of United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) registered patent attorneys and patent agents. In the top Boston patent firms, 131 of the USPTO registrants were Suffolk graduates and students. The second ranked law school had a scant 39, or one third as many patent prosecutors registered with the USPTO.
Finding #2: Suffolk has the most working partners, shareholders, and principals in the top patent firms in Boston.
Suffolk University’s 56 patent law partners outrank the second school’s 53 partners working in the Avery Index’s top law firms.
Finding #3: Suffolk trained the most associates or non-partner attorneys in Boston’s top patent law firms.
Here again, Suffolk demonstrates great strength, with 65 associates working in the top patent firms having graduated from Suffolk University Law School. The next-ranked school placed a distant second, with 35 associates. This dramatic finding demonstrates that the top patent law firms are recruiting new patent lawyers from Suffolk’s IP program.
Finding #4: Suffolk has trained the largest number of patent lawyers and technology specialists with doctorates in scientific fields.
Suffolk has the most patent attorneys and technology specialists with a Ph.D.—66 in all who are practicing. That’s seven times more graduates and current students with doctorates in the top patent firms in Boston than the next ranked school, which has just 9.
Our Intellectual Property Law program is ranked 26th in the nation by U.S. News and World Report. Nevertheless, the untold story is how dominant Suffolk’s position is in placing their graduates in elite patent firms.
The reasons for Suffolk’s Quiet Revolution in Placing Graduates in the top patent firms are clear:
•Our extensive IP curriculum, featuring skills courses such as Patent Litigation Seminar and Practice Before the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office, advanced electives such as International Intellectual Property, and traditional IP courses such as Copyright Law, Trademark Law, Trade Secrets, Internet Law, and Entertainment Law, all taught by our elite IP faculty whose internationally-recognized scholarship places them at the forefront of the legal academe. Our unique specialization in Patent Law with our IP Concentration further allows us to offer the widest variety of patent-related courses in the region.
•Our evening division, which allows students with a scientific or engineering background to be employed by elite Boston IP law firms as patent agents or technology specialists during the day, and, in turn have their legal education be underwritten by their employers at night. This arrangement provides our students with a tremendous grounding in both academic and practical IP law, and gives them a distinct advantage for employment with both boutique intellectual property law firms and within the IP departments of elite law firms upon graduation.
•Our extra-curricular opportunities, including our cutting-edge, online Journal of High Technology Law, our patent law and trademark law moot court teams, our internship placements with private IP law firms and technology companies throughout metropolitan Boston, and our numerous continuing legal education programs featuring the leaders of the IP bench and bar. These offerings allow our students enter the legal job market poised to embrace the multi-faceted opportunities available to IP litigators and prosecutors.
•Our location in the hub of one of the fastest growing biotechnology, software, and telecommunications centers in the country. Suffolk's recent prominence in patent law is in part due to its location in the heart of downtown Boston. In this specialized, rapidly growing area of law, high technology companies increasingly turn to Boston's law firms to protect their intangible intellectual property rights. And our study shows that these firms are increasingly staffed with our well-trained and prepared graduates.
* The Avery Index, (http://www.averyindex.com/patent_city_firms.php?city=Boston&st=MA), is a reliable and independent law firm ranking of patent lawyers in Boston’s leading IP firms. The 10 largest Avery Index top patent law firms were: Boston’s Fish and Richardson, P.C.; Wolf, Greenfield & Sacks, P.C.; Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP; Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough LLP (formerly Lahive & Cockfield); Edwards Angell Palmer & Dodge LLP (now Edwards Wildman Palmer LLP); Goodwin Procter LLP; Ropes & Gray LLP; K & L Gates LLP; and Foley Hoag LLP.
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