Finding A Good Patent Attorney For Who You Are
This is the second post in my series entitled “How To Find A Patent Attorney: My Guide for Performing Your Own Patent Attorney Search.” Please click here to read the first post.
First, it must be acknowledged that you are not looking for just any patent attorney. You are looking for a great patent attorney who you can trust with your business. However, instead of looking for a great patent attorney, I suggest that you start by looking for the best patent attorney for you. To do that, you will need to know who you are, what you need, and a little about patent attorney culture.
Knowing Who You Are (And How They See You)
It is important to know your limitations because this knowledge will focus your patent attorney search. In particular, it will shape how patent attorneys see you. If you are an entrepreneur or a founder of a start-up, then most patent attorneys will not want to work with you for the following reasons.
You Have A Limited Budget: Patent attorneys at larger firms wants to charge top rates for a steady stream of patent work, not draft one or two applications for you.
You Bring Conflicts That Could Cost Them Money: Attorneys are not allowed to represent everyone. For example, a divorce attorney cannot represent a husband and wife during a divorce. They have to represent one of the other. These conflicts are even more complex for patent attorneys. If you are starting a business in social media, then you could be a competitor for Facebook. Accepting your business could block your patent attorney AND your patent attorney’s whole firm from working for Facebook. This conflict could even stop them from taking Facebook’s business in areas like employment law, tax law, products liability, and more. The bigger the law firm; the bigger the conflicts.
They Have No Reason To Stay Loyal: Many larger firms will gladly take your business. Then, they will kick you to the curb as soon as a larger client comes along!
You Are Not Knowledgeable About Patent Law: Large companies employ patent attorneys who understand patent law. A patent attorney at a large firm does not have to teach a large company about their patent law services. They just take orders for services. Having a patent savvy clients allows the firm to spend less time “holding your hand” and more time billing for work. Thus, working exclusively with patent savvy clients increases their profits. It also helps them avoid getting sued for malpractice because they rarely give any advice to the client.
Smaller Clients Come Last: Every business that serves multiple clients must serve someone first and someone last. The bigger the law firm, the more likely your work will come last. Ever get served last at a restaurant? It’s even more fun when your business is at stake.
Take Away Point: If you are an entrepreneur or a founder of a start-up, I recommend that you search for a patent attorney at a law firm of 20 or fewer attorneys, preferably 10 or fewer attorneys.
Smaller firms need your business more, have few conflicts, and usually have more experience providing patent law services to start-ups and entrepreneurs. Smaller law firms also have lower overhead and billing pressure, so they do not need to nickel-and-dime you to death to pay for their fancy offices and staff.
If you are general counsel or a technology transfer officer at a research university, I still highly recommend you look for a patent attorney at a law firm of 20 or fewer attorneys. However, you probably have enough money and/or patent savvy to broaden your search to patent attorneys at firms of less than 50 attorneys with risking drastically higher costs and lower quality service.
The next post in my “How To Find A Patent Attorney: My Guide for Performing Your Own Patent Attorney Search” series will cover “Finding An Experienced Patent Attorney For What You Need.” Click here for the next post.