Careers in the Area of Technology Commercialization

Technology commercialization is a unique interdisciplinary field with many potential career opportunities. A major misconception is that attorneys trained in this field can only pursue careers in intellectual property law, specifically patent law at law firms or as in-house counsel to private companies. Although many attorneys do choose this traditional route, there is an array of non-traditional career options.

Working for the government is one option. Traditional careers might be in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office or the Copyright Office. However, attorneys have found careers in other departments as well, such as: the Federal Trade Commission, the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Department of Commerce, military departments, and the Department of Health and Human Services, specifically National Institutes of Health. Many state governments also seek applicants with knowledge of technology and commercialization law. New York offers careers in its Division of Science, Technology and Innovation as well as in the Office of Information Technology Services. Similarly, California has a Department of Technology that offers careers in its Information Technology and Statewide Technology Procurement divisions.

A second area for non-traditional employment that is growing in popularity is at consulting firms. Consulting firms traditionally looked for M.B.A. candidates, but have recently been considering J.D. and J.D./M.B.A. candidates. With a background in technology and commercialization law, attorneys can provide a technology analysis, intellectual property landscape, regulatory guidance, a competitive landscape, market analysis, and recommendations. These are all skills developed during the study of technology and commercialization law and they map well onto a career in consulting.

Finally, university technology transfer offices require many of the skills that attorneys in the field of technology commercialization have acquired. Technology transfer offices conduct technology assessments and research businesses that might want to purchase or license technologies made by university faculty, researchers, students, and staff. Employees not only negotiate intellectual property licenses, but often interact with inventors in order to secure intellectual property protection. Attorneys at technology transfer offices also conduct patent searches and guide inventors through the patenting process with outside counsel. In addition, attorneys in these offices help businesses that license technologies from university with commercialization grant applications. These are just a few of non-traditional careers for attorneys trained in technology and commercialization law.