Pre-Law Program at Miami University
Alumni Video: Patent Attorney — A Nice Niche
Featuring Jim Heinen (Miami 2003)
Associate, Intellectual Property Group, Armstrong Teasdale LLP
(In this video Jim Heinen describes how his chemistry major led to a career as a patent attorney.)
"My decision to become a chemistry major and then to pursue a law degree, I came to that after my junior year. I had an internship with Sherwin-Williams while I was here, in the summer, and I made paint from scratch all day, which was a fine summer job, but I came to the determination that it wasn't something I wanted to do with the rest of my life.
"So I started looking at other avenues, what I can do with my chemistry degree, and I heard someone from Proctor and Gamble speak here at school and they mentioned patent law, so I looked into patent law, it sounded very interesting to me. I took some law classes my senior year, really enjoyed them, took more my second semester senior year and that's when I made the commitment to be a patent attorney.
"The curriculum at Miami was extremely difficult and challenging which helped prepare me for where I am now. Everything that I took in the law classes was helpful at law school; everything that I did with my chemistry undergrad was helpful with what I have now.
"The advice that I give someone who is considering law school right now is to make sure that's what you want to do and to not just go to law school because you can't find something else. I won't know what the economy is like several years from now, but when you graduate from law school now it's extremely difficult to find a job. There are a lot of people who graduate, and not a lot of jobs out there. Being a patent attorney was helpful for me, because it's a nice niche to have, there are generally about a million attorneys in the United States and only about 80,000 patent attorneys. So it's a little bit easier to find a patent attorney job than a regular attorney job."