My wife introduced me to the TV show Harry’s Law the other night. Before we started watching, she told me that the show involved a patent lawyer. I did a mental double-take. “Huh? How would a show focusing on patent law captivate any normal audience?” But at the same time I thought about how I would quite enjoy such a patent show. Other people may not see why patent law is likable. While I understand the argument, here is one reason patent law wins (if there ever were to be a competition between the two areas of law).
In Harry’s Law, the “patent lawyer” is actually a lawyer who used to be a patent attorney, but has now switched to criminal defense, apparently because she became bored of her patent profession. The former patent attorney heads a rag-tag group of attorneys who have banded together in a rundown shoe store. In the episode I watched, one of the attorneys gives a riveting and passionate speech to a judge to try and save his client’s life from the death penalty. I understand why criminal defense, which involves crime, capital punishment, guilt or innocence, etc, is more interesting to the general public than patent law. But a non-obvious (pun unintended) advantage of patent law is that to me the procedural rules are more extensive and give the attorney more room to keep on learning.
In comparing criminal defense work with patent work, I am not arguing that a patent attorney’s job is more interesting. But to me the procedural rules are more interesting. In criminal law you have the constitution, the rules of evidence, criminal procedure, civil procedure. These make up a great universe of rules, but the laws and rules of patent law kick the pants off of criminal defense. With the Patent Act, all the CFRs and the MPEP, there are so many options that must take into account with timing, business, science and public policy. Procedural-wise, I find it is an area of law where you can ever progress and learn as you piece together all the rules to come up eventually with the big picture for your client. I am done with my rant.