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Electives and Focus Areas

Pre-Law

A degree in chemistry is an excellent preparation for a career in patent law, for which technical knowledge is essential and which includes contact with cutting edge technologies and working closely with scientists. Two basic types of legal activity exist, and one can specialize in either one; litigation, which involves defending or challenging existing patents in legal proceedings, and patent development – preparation and filing of new patent applications. Patent law may be pursued at several levels.

Technical Advisor. Provides technical advice and information in regard to patent applications or litigation. Typically an interim position while you gain legal knowledge.

Patent Agent. Represents the client in filing a patent and can represent a client in dealings with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. No additional degree beyond the B.S. is necessary, but a registration exam (patent bar exam) must be passed. Typically, one enters this path as a technical advisor for an established firm while learning the material for this examination.

Patent Attorney. In addition to having the qualifications of a patent agent, a patent attorney can represent a client in court. A law degree and passing the bar exam are required.

At any level, practitioners may work for a corporation or for an independent law firm; or might also become a patent examiner or attorney for the USPTO.

Environmental law is a growing field that deals with a wide range of matters relating to environmental concerns such as pollution, waste management, land use, resource extraction and many others. Activities involve interpretation and development of regulations as well as litigation, and may be practiced through private practice, public interest groups, government or as in-house counsel for a corporation.

The following courses are recommended as a background:

PHIL-2140 Introduction to Logic
PHIL-4240 Ethics
MGMT-1260 External Environment of Business
PHIL-4740 Philosophy of Law
STSS-1320 Principles and Practices of American Government
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