Legal Experience and Advancement Program (LEAP)

LEAP – Legal Experience and Advancement Program – Woman leaping between cliffs over lightbulbs

The USPTO is committed to fostering a strong and vital patent system. The development of legal skills through practical experience allows advocates to effectively support and represent their clients’ interests.

The USPTO has developed and implemented the Legal Experience and Advancement Program (LEAP) to provide training and oral advocacy opportunities for less experienced advocates to gain practical experience in proceedings before the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB). Additionally, as part of the program, the PTAB may grant up to 15 minutes of additional argument time to each party that chooses to participate, depending on the length of the proceeding and the PTAB’s hearing schedule.

LEAP Brochure


As of November 18, 2021, the USPTO has removed the requirement that practitioners must have seven or fewer years of experience to qualify for LEAP.

To qualify as a LEAP practitioner, a patent agent or attorney must have:

  • three or fewer substantive oral arguments in any federal tribunal, including the PTAB.

Pro bono arguments (including PTAB pro bono arguments) do not count toward a practitioner's limit of three or fewer substantive oral arguments. Practitioners with questions about LEAP eligibility may seek guidance by emailing

LEAP participation requests 

To participate in LEAP, a practitioner must submit a Request and a Verification form to the PTAB, by email to, at least five business days before the hearing. 

Submission of a combined LEAP Practitioner Request and Verification Form is preferred. If a practitioner elects not to use this combined form, the information contained in the form must be provided in the practitioner’s alternate submissions.

Practitioners must not submit a request or verification form until the Board has assigned an oral hearing date for the proceeding in which LEAP participation is requested. If a hearing date has not been assigned, the request will be denied as premature.

Oral argument at the PTAB


Oral hearing 

A LEAP practitioner may conduct the entire oral argument or may share time with other counsel, provided that the LEAP practitioner is offered a meaningful and substantive opportunity to argue. It remains within the party’s discretion as to the type and quantity of oral argument that will be conducted by the LEAP practitioner. For example, a LEAP practitioner might present the party’s entire argument or might argue a more limited issue, e.g., claim construction arguments, motions to exclude evidence, or patentability arguments.

LEAP recognition

During the first two years of LEAP, from May 2020 to May 2022, more than 100 practitioners have participated in oral arguments in actual cases—both ex parte appeals and AIA trial proceedings. We recognize these practitioners along with their sponsors and employers who supported their participation and gave them the opportunities. Additionally, we commend sponsors who enabled participation of more than one LEAP practitioner over the past two years. Read more about LEAP practitioners and their sponsors below.

LEAP Practitioner Recognition 

LEAP Sponsor Recognition 

Most LEAP Requests 

Assistance at oral hearing

Regardless of whether a LEAP practitioner conducts the argument in whole or in part, the PTAB will permit more experienced counsel to assist a LEAP practitioner, if necessary, during oral argument, and to clarify any statements on the record before the conclusion of the oral argument. 


Woman at podium in PTAB hearing room


LEAP preparation

The PTAB will offer training on oral advocacy, covering topics such as the use of demonstratives, effective use of hearing time, decorum, and logistics of an oral hearing. Training will be available free of charge and via webinar.

The PTAB also encourages LEAP practitioners to participate in other aspects of PTAB proceedings, including conference calls, pre-hearing conferences, and depositions.


Webinar training session


Webinar information


Wednesday, November 9, 202210 a.m. to 12 p.m. Eastern Time

LEAP to Chambers

In-person event at the Alexandria, Virginia, office

Register by October 28, 2022

Various Administrative Patent Judges
Thursday, August 11, 2022

4 p.m. to 5 p.m. Eastern Time


Second Anniversary and Recognition Event

Director Kathi Vidal

Chief Judge Scott Boalick

Deputy Chief Judge Jackie Bonilla

Former PTAB Judge and current Block litigation counsel Kamran Jivani

ITC Chief Judge Clark Cheney

Friday, May 20, 2022

12 p.m. to 1 p.m. Eastern Time


AIA Oral Argument Encore

Practitioners Erika Harmon Arner, Finnegan, Henderson, Farabow, Garrett & Dunner, LLP

Gene W. Lee, Perkins Coie LLP

Megan R. Raymond, Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP

John D. Vandenberg, Klarquist Sparkman, LLP

Friday, May 13, 20221:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. Eastern Time

PTAB LEAP Mock Argument Practicum

Register by April 8

Various Administrative Patent Judges
Friday, May 6, 202212 p.m. to 1 p.m. Eastern Time

Preparing for your AIA Argument

Lead Administrative Patent Judge Miriam Quinn

Practitioners Andrew S. Ehmke (Haynes and Boone, LLP)

Eldora L. Ellison (Sterne, Kessler, Goldstein & Fox PLLC)

Friday, Sept. 17, 202112 p.m. to 1 p.m. Eastern TimeAIA Oral Argument Encore

Practitioner Erick Palmer (Mayer Brown LLP)

Practitioner Roger Lee (Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney PC)

Practitioner Tim Fink (O’Melveny & Myers LLP)

Practitioner Kristina Caggiano Kelly (Sterne, Kessler, Goldstein & Fox P.L.L.C.) 

Friday, Sept. 10, 20211 - 4 p.m. Eastern Time

LEAP AIA Trials Mock Argument Practicum:

Register by Aug. 6

Various Administrative Patent Judges
Wednesday, Sept. 8, 202112 p.m. to 1 p.m. Eastern Time

’Twas the Night Before Oral Argument–preparing for your AIA argument

Vice Chief Administrative Judge Janet Gongola

Practitioner Gabrielle Higgins (Desmarais LLP)

Practitioner Joshua Goldberg (Finnegan, Henderson, Farabow, Garrett & Dunner, LLP). 

Tuesday, May 18, 202112 p.m. to 1 p.m. Eastern TimeLEAP First Anniversary Event

Julie Mar-Spinola, Finjan

Kathi Vidal, Winston & Strawn LLP

Ian Soule, Sterne, Kessler, Goldstein & Fox P.L.L.C.;

Lead Administrative Patent Judge Michelle Ankenbrand, USPTO PTAB

Monday, April 5, 20211 p.m. to 3 p.m. Eastern TimeThe "Perfect" Oral ArgumentTodd R. Walters, Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney
Friday, March 26, 20211 p.m. to 4 p.m. Eastern TimeEx parte Appeals Mock Argument PracticumVarious Administrative Patent Judges
Friday, March 19, 2021

1 p.m. to 2 p.m. Eastern Time

Preparing and Presenting at PTAB

W. Karl Renner, Fish & Richardson

Erin M. Dunston, Panitch Schwarze Belisario & Nadel

LEAP frequently asked questions


Select LEAP press

Director's Forum: A Blog from USPTO's Leadership, PTAB launches the Legal Experience and Advancement Program (LEAP) for the next generation of patent practitioners (April 28, 2020)

Law360, IP Firms Cheer PTAB Program Giving New Attys Opportunities (April 29, 2020)

Next Generation Lawyers, The Patent Trial and Appeal Board LEAPs Into the Future (April 29, 2020)

National Law Review, LEAP Eligible Practitioners Try Their Hand at Oral Advocacy in LEAP Mock Arguments before the PTAB (August 26, 2020)

Director's Forum: A Blog from USPTO's Leadership, Legal Experience and Advancement Program conducts virtual mock arguments (October 15, 2020)

Mondaq, PTAB Holds Mock Oral Arguments For LEAP Attorneys (November 2, 2020)

Law360, PTAB Judge Encourages Junior Attys To Ask For Help In Args (May 18, 2021)

Bloomberg Law, Patent Tribunal Judges Urge Firms to Send Women, Diverse Lawyers (April 28, 2022)

Law360, USPTO Leadership Touts LEAP Program's Success 2 Years In (August 11, 2022)

Patents Post-Grant, PTAB LEAP Program Goes Behind the Scenes (October 19, 2022)

Law360, PTAB Program Offers Lay Of Land To Ease Junior Atty Jitters (November 10, 2022)

Other USPTO resources for those new to PTAB

  • New to PTAB toolkit (information about the basics of PTAB appeal and AIA trial proceedings)
  • Expanding Innovation Toolkit (information about the patent system, mentoring programs, and community groups focused on innovation and intellectual property)


For questions about LEAP, please contact: