How To Become An Intellectual Property Lawyer

Intellectual property law safeguards client ideas and designs.

To assess if it’s your ideal field, grasp the skills and education required.

This article explores IP lawyers’ responsibilities and career paths.

What is an intellectual property lawyer?

An intellectual property (IP) lawyer is a legal professional who protects the ownership of intangible assets, including: Names, Symbols, Artwork, Images, Slogans, Music, Films.

Intellectual property lawyer
Becoming an intellectual property lawyer: Photo source (

Here are some types of intellectual property that IP lawyers use to protect their clients’ creations: Copyrights, Trademarks, Trade secrets, Patents, Licensing, Distribution, Franchising, Unfair competition

What does an intellectual property lawyer do?

Intellectual property lawyers work in law firms, universities or the legal departments of corporations. Their primary responsibilities include:

  • Obtaining patents and trademarks for their clients

  • Providing legal counsel to their clients

  • Consulting on their clients’ creative ideas

  • Representing their clients in court

  • Writing legal documents

  • Taking depositions

  • Negotiating settlements

Average salary for intellectual property lawyers

The national average salary for intellectual property lawyers is $152,537 per year.

However, this salary may vary depending on how much experience you have and where you work.

For example, an attorney who is a partner at a law firm may earn a higher salary than a junior associate who works at a university.

How to become an intellectual property lawyer

To pursue a career as an intellectual property lawyer, complete the following steps:

1. Obtain an undergraduate degree

A bachelor’s degree is the minimum education requirement to become an IP lawyer.

Although acceptance into law school doesn’t require a specific discipline, some IP lawyers study engineering, which provides technical knowledge they may use for cases involving patents.

Other aspiring IP lawyers study art, which helps them with court cases regarding the misuse of logos and symbols.

You can also study subjects such as: Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Economics, Political science, History, English, Business management.

2. Take the LSAT

To gain acceptance into law school, you must pass the Law School Admission Test (LSAT), which consists of multiple-choice questions and a writing component.

The score you need to earn depends on the law school you’re planning to attend.

To prepare for the test, you can complete and review sample questionnaires, which can give you an idea of the LSAT’s format, and you can devote a few hours a week to studying for two to three months before your test.

3. Earn a law degree

Intellectual property lawyers typically have a Juris Doctor (J.D.), which requires completion of law school.

Law school teaches you about the legal system, and you typically learn about topics like:

  • Torts

  • Contracts

  • Constitutional law

  • Patent prosecution

  • Copyrights

  • Intellectual property rights

  • International intellectual property

4. Acquire a license

To become a licensed IP attorney, you must pass the bar exam, which consists of multiple-choice and essay questions.

The content of the exam depends on your state, and you must complete a bar exam for every state where you plan to practice law.

Intellectual property lawyers also take the United States Patient and Trademark Office (USPTO) exam to become patent practitioners, which allows them to register and interact with the USPTO.

5. Gain professional experience

Employers may prefer job candidates with professional experience, so it’s important to practice your skills in a proper work environment.

For entry-level positions, consider completing an internship at a law firm that specializes in intellectual property.

This may give you the opportunity to observe how experienced IP lawyers handle their cases and interact with their clients.

Skills of an intellectual property lawyer


IP lawyers investigate violations, assess the problem’s extent, gather background information on opponents, and prepare for trial using legal precedents.

Verbal and nonverbal communication

Intellectual property lawyers employ these communication skills:

  1. Interpersonal communication: They clarify legal strategies, share research findings, and collaborate with colleagues.
  2. Public speaking: They craft persuasive arguments in court, choosing words carefully.
  3. Active listening: They attentively address clients and engage during legal proceedings.

Written communication

In written communication, IP lawyers create:

  1. Formal letters: Asserting intellectual property ownership and prohibiting unauthorized use.
  2. Licensing agreements: Defining authorized use under specific terms.
  3. Assignment agreements: Transferring intellectual property rights.
  4. Legal briefs: Documenting case details and disputes.