1L course through an IP lens
Law schools across the country host their 1L classes. Masked and (hopefully) vaccinated aspirants are surely brimming with excitement and nervous energy, eager to begin the arduous journey of their 1L year. Among the hordes are undoubtedly students interested in a career as an IP lawyer, just as there are likely some students who might find themselves in the practice of IP after law school, even if they do. may not think that way when they start their legal studies. . Either way, current intellectual property practitioners will certainly join me in wishing all of our future intellectual property colleagues good luck as they begin their legal studies. Our profession continues to benefit from the annual injection of law graduate students into IP groups nationwide. We therefore hope to welcome this year’s 1L harvest to the IP bar in just three years.
While 1L courses generally follow a defined curriculum, with little or no specific emphasis on intellectual property issues per se, future intellectual property practitioners will likely find themselves reflecting on the lessons of their 1L courses, at the same time. both at the start of their legal career and later. . As with everything, a solid foundation in the general legal principles taught throughout year 1L provides the foundation necessary for a successful legal career – in intellectual property as well as any other legal discipline. Additionally, I would suggest that for aspiring IP practitioners, discovering key IP skills and concepts from their 1L courses is a laudable endeavor.
Examining 1L courses from an intellectual property perspective is an exercise that can enrich the 1L experience of law students, while also providing a starting point for thinking about the practice of intellectual property from a broader perspective. To this end, I offer the following reflections on how each of the typical 1L classes emphasizes skills and reasoning applicable to various aspects of IP practice. (Remember that I am not a law scholar, but that I invest in improving the intellectual property knowledge of law students, especially since they will graduate in a world where questions of intellectual property are increasingly important for economic and geopolitical reasons.)
The benefits to future intellectual property lawyers of introductory legal reasoning (ie, how to read cases, as well as legal drafting courses, are obvious. 1Ls would be wise to resist the temptation to overlook these courses, even though they tend to have fewer credits compared to year 1L pillars like contracts and property. These latter two classes are, of course, of major importance to practitioners intellectual property, but for different reasons. We can start with property, which focuses more on what is called real (physical) property rather than intellectual property. But this distinction does little to obscure the philosophical foundations of property rights in the common law legal system that are shared by the two categories of property, providing useful context for practitioners when faced with questions such as (contested) whether patents are private property or public licenses, to name but one example. Likewise, lessons learned in contracts can help provide a basis for addressing several critical aspects of intellectual property practice, from licenses to assignments to non-disclosure agreements.
Even constitutional and criminal law courses have much to offer future intellectual property practitioners, with an emphasis on understanding statutory language and learning to familiarize themselves with the limits of statutory mandates. Since many intellectual property laws have arisen as a result of congressional action, understand how these laws have developed over time and have sometimes been enacted to harmonize the disparate treatment of state laws on intellectual property matters ( at least in the case of trademarks and trade secrets) helps young lawyers specializing in intellectual property. appreciate the breadth and depth of intellectual property practice. Likewise, the criminal law’s exploration of the role of emotion in explaining behavior can be of great relevance to intellectual property practitioners, who are often tasked with managing the expectations and wishes of inventors and creators. , often in highly emotional contexts of alleged infringement or intimidation of intellectual property by the more resource-rich counterpart.
Saving the best for last for future intellectual property litigators, at least in my opinion, we have Torts and Civil Procedure. Starting with the first, Torts provides a critical introduction to the constructs underlying our attribution of legal liability, based on acts of trespassing on the person or property of the other. Perhaps no other freshman class demands such an accurate reading of fact models and learning how to weight often disparate holdings, while challenging aspiring lawyers to truly understand the importance of precedents in the course of the common law. As for civil procedure, I can testify that procedural issues in federal courts arise all the time in litigation practice, especially when an IP litigant is forced to learn how to superimpose the different rules governing certain types of cases. . In a patent case, for example, in addition to the FRCP, one is faced with the local rules of the particular district where the dispute is located, as well as the local patent rules. In light of this, intellectual property litigators who learn to love their Civ Pro courses will certainly benefit.
Ultimately, Year 1L is perhaps the most formative educational experience many of us will ever have the pleasure of having. The earlier in their legal education process, aspiring intellectual property lawyers recognize the importance of each of the required 1L courses, the better. Learning to assimilate the lessons learned in these 1L courses will be very helpful as aspiring IP lawyers embark on their practice. When it comes to general 1L advice, 1Ls should keep in mind that a sense of intellectual curiosity, hard work, and learning how to give law professors what they want on exams are all essential ingredients. for a successful 1L year. I wish the promotion of the future IP lawyers of 2024 good luck as they begin their journey towards bar membership!
Gaston Kroub lives in Brooklyn and is one of the founding partners of Kroub, Silbersher & Kolmykov SARL, an intellectual property litigation store, and Markman Advisors LLC, a leading patent advisory firm for the investment community. Gaston’s practice focuses on intellectual property litigation and related advice, with a particular emphasis on patent matters. You can reach him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter: @gkroub.