The factors that you need to consider are how much experience do firms generally require, what science backgrounds are most in demand, and does a boutique or large firm make more sense for you.
How much experience do New York City firms require in a lateral patent litigation candidate?
There are no absolute rules regarding the number of years of experience for patent litigation candidates because there are simply not enough of you to fill the growing demand. I have seen firms whose position listings state “three to five years of experience” hire candidates with less than two full years of experience. The reason is simple: scarcity. Thus, if you are interested in a particular firm, but fall either below or above the stated number of years of experience, do not be discouraged. You should submit your resume because it is highly likely that you will be asked for an interview.
What science backgrounds are most in demand in New York City for patent litigation candidates?
The science backgrounds most in demand in New York City for patent litigation candidates are Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. Furthermore, while advanced degrees in these areas are a plus, they are often not required, as most firms are satisfied with undergraduate degrees in either of these two disciplines.
Patent litigation candidates with life science backgrounds – Biology and Chemistry- are not as in demand. Moreover, when firms are looking for these types of candidates, they often require advanced degrees. There does appear to be a burgeoning increase for patent litigation candidates with life science backgrounds who have experience with the pharmaceutical industry, especially experience with Abbreviated New Drug Applications (ANDA) and/or Hatch Waxman litigation.
Does a boutique or large firm make more sense for you?
Both options have their merits and in large part, what you want as a lateral may depend upon what your experience has been to date with your current firm. I have spoken with large firm candidates who are far more interested in joining a boutique because they feel that they have not had the proper mentoring at their large firms. The foregoing is especially true if a candidate is the only attorney at his firm with a Ph.D. in Pharmacology (or Computer Science, Electrical Engineering, or any other discipline) because there is no one who can adequately monitor his progress! Conversely, I have spoken with candidates who began their careers at intellectual property boutiques and they are very eager to move to a large firm situation where they are “unique” and can carve out their own niche.
If you are a New York City patent litigation associate with an Electrical Engineering or Computer Science degree who has one full year of experience and you are not 100% satisfied with your current position, then now is an excellent time to commence a search for a new position because YOU are most definitely in demand!