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Thursday Sep 02, 2021

Apply for a judicial law clerkship at the USPTO by September 10

Guest Blog by Scott Boalick, Chief Judge of the Patent Trial and Appeal BoardPTAB logo

Are you interested in launching your career as an intellectual property (IP) practitioner by clerking for an administrative patent judge on the USPTO’s Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB)? The PTAB is currently hiring for one-year clerkships to start in the fall of 2022. Check out our posting on the USAJobs website, which closes September 10, and read on to learn more about the role.

The PTAB serves two important functions in the intellectual property system. First, the PTAB reviews the work of patent examiners in ex parte appeals and determines whether an examiner’s rejection of a patent application should be sustained. Additionally, the PTAB adjudicates the patentability of issued patents in America Invents Act (AIA) trial proceedings, which serve as a cheaper, faster alternative to district court litigation. For both types of proceedings, a panel of three administrative law judges who are skilled in technology and trained in patent law hear the cases and render decisions for the Board.

As a judicial law clerk, you would work directly with judges on a variety of assignments, from researching legal issues to discussing cases with judges, for both ex parte appeals and AIA trials. Additionally, you would have the opportunity to participate in all Board training events, attend conferences, and prepare and deliver presentations. The diversity of work and training gives our judicial law clerks a broad understanding of the PTAB.

Serving as a judicial law clerk also helps you establish a network within the intellectual property community. One former law clerk commented that “[the] environment is very collaborative and welcoming. At all levels, people are willing to answer your questions. More importantly, they want to hear your perspective.”

Judicial law clerks are required to be U.S. citizens and graduates of an accredited law school prior to starting at the PTAB. Additionally, judicial law clerks must have an undergraduate degree in a technical area, such as engineering, chemistry, or biology. Admission to a state bar or the patent bar is not required, though encouraged.

If selected as a judicial law clerk, you would serve for a paid, one-year term. Typically, terms start in October and end the following September. To apply, you must submit a resume and undergraduate, graduate (if applicable), and law school transcripts through Providing a cover letter is optional, but may help us get a better idea of what makes you a great candidate.

Perhaps best said by a recent law clerk: “If you are interested in practicing before the PTAB, the judicial clerkship program is an excellent way to develop skills and insight into the forum and set yourself apart from your peers.” For example, past law clerks have gone on to further prestigious positions in public service, including as law clerks at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.

If you meet the qualifications outlined above and are interested in the intersection of IP and the law, we hope you consider joining us at the PTAB.


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