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Labor Day is fast approaching the in the US, signaling the end of summer and give workers a brief respite from the daily grind. I was reading an interesting article on The Atlantic’s website today, about how the composition of the US workforce is slowly changing to a more freelance-based economy due to layoffs, outsourcing of jobs, life-long careers at one company going by the wayside, and people interested in pursuing their passions rather than a career. This reminded me that the patent industry is probably way ahead of the pack in the freelance economy.
What does a freelance economy mean to the patent industry? Danny Rooney has a short and sweet take on it after the jump.
While much of the patent industry still remains in the traditional model through employment at a law firm or at a large corporation, it also have its fair share of contractors, sole-proprietors, or part-timers, similar to many other industries. However, what this business has that others do not is that it lends itself nicely to solo work. Generally, all you need is a computer, a phone, and some paper to take notes. Lawyers in all fields have been aware of this for some time, as the nature of being a lawyer requires long hours, many of which occur at a home office. I also know many a lawyer who decided to leave their firm and go out on their own. Furthermore, once someone establishes themselves as competent in their field, their work, not their location, speaks for them.
So while the nature of the work lends itself to a freelance economy, does this mean that a freelance economy will significantly change the patent industry? Probably not, as the barriers to entry are quite high. The cost and time of a technical degree and the law degree coupled with passing the two dreaded bar exams, puts becoming a patent lawyer out of reach for most people. Even searching or paralegal type work generally requires a minimum of a technical degree to succeed, with advanced technical degrees being more helpful. Those requirements are likely not going to change anytime soon. However, for those within the industry who encounter various life changes, the ability to stay within the field is more likely today than ever, although not always at the level that one may be accustomed to.
As Labor Day provides those of us in the US a chance to celebrate our work, now is also the time to realize where the workforce is headed in the future, and think about what each of us can do to make ourselves as successful as possible, however we define success.
What do you think about freelance work in the patent world? We’re very interested to hear what you have to say in the comments section below!
Next time: Danny realized he didn’t have any fun, so he goes back in time to add a bunch of links, just for the heck of it, click here, here, and here. Sorry Rebecca Black, you make it so easy. If you like my fifth cousin Wayne’s work (or how I learned to love what Cesc Fabregas has done to Arsenal), click here and here
Find previous writings and musings from the off-kilter Danny Rooney here: #1, #2, #3, #4, #5, #6, #7, #8, #9, #10, #11, #12.
This post was contributed by Registered Patent Agent Dan Wolka and edited by Chris Jagalla. The Intellogist blog is provided for free by Intellogist’s parent company, Landon IP, a major provider of patent search, technical translation, and information services.