Law Careers

A law degree prepares students for a range of law-related careers and can be an important background for careers in government, business, higher education, healthcare, communications and many other fields. Legal practice is intellectually challenging and requires the use of ethics, reason and judgment.

Required undergraduate skills and additional information

You do not actually have to go to law school to work as a patent agent. With a background in science or engineering, you can work with inventors, researchers, and attorneys to evaluate an invention disclosure, assess patentability, draft a patent application, and analyze and respond to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) actions.

There is a growing demand for patent attorneys and patent agents. Patent agents can work in a number of settings: intellectual property law firms, legal departments of corporations conducting research and development, technology transfer offices of research universities, private practice, and patent offices.

To practice in the field, students must take the Patent Bar Exam. Previous exams and study materials are available online. After completing this exam, students are qualified to practice in all states.

Becoming a Patent Practitioner (USPTO)

American Intellectual Property Law Association

National Association of Patent Practitioners


Many law schools have fairly new master's level programs that they offer for people who want to learn more about law in specific areas, but who don't want to practice law. For example, if you want to learn about health law, higher education law, or intellectual property law, but are not looking to be a lawyer, it is possible to earn a master's degree in these areas. Data is unclear as to how this impacts careers, but some anecdotal data indicates that students have seen a positive return on investing in these programs.

A few examples:

IU McKinney School Law (Indianapolis) offers programs in Health & Science; Employment and Human Resources; Intellectual Property; Contracts; Law Enforcement; Environment and Natural Resources; Government Regulations; Legislative Initiatives; Journalism; Social Work; Business and Corporate Affairs; International Law; Sports and Entertainment

Northwestern University Master of Science in Law has a special program for people with a STEM background that essentially replaces an MBA and prepares them for creating business plans, but also for understanding patent law.

Paralegals are trained professionals who interview clients and witnesses, organize and prepare case files, prepare exhibits for court cases, research legal issues, draft motions and memos, proofread briefs, review legal documents, and assist attorneys in numerous ways. Paralegals may also hold positions in businesses that face heavy regulations to handle compliance paperwork and to help with monitoring regulations.

Ivy Tech Lafayette has an excellent Paralegal Studies Program