Intellectual property is a fascinating area of law, constantly evolving to meet the demands of an economy increasingly dependent upon information, creativity, and technological innovation. It is also consistently ranked as a “hot” area of legal study, providing excellent career opportunities for law students who choose to practice in this field (see this 2014 U.S. News & World Report article). Intellectual property can be a particularly good fit for law students with a background in science or technology, but a technical background is by no means a requirement. In fact, many IP practices do not require any technical or scientific expertise.
UMKC boasts a cadre of full-time professors specializing in the primary areas of intellectual property – patents, trademark, copyright, and trade secret – as well as associated disciplines such as cyber law, entrepreneurship, antitrust, entertainment, and sports law. These faculty are leaders in their field, publishing in respected journals and presenting their research to audiences around the nation. They also have years of experience working as intellectual property attorneys at major law firms and Silicon Valley startups, better enabling them to prepare students for practice in the real world.
There are many advantages to being the only law school in the Kansas City metropolitan area, not the least of which is the ability to recruit top-notch legal practitioners to teach specialty IP courses as adjunct faculty. Not only does this enhance the breadth and width of UMKC’s IP course offerings, it brings the experience and insight of successful attorneys into the classroom. The class size of adjunct taught courses is typically small, enhancing the opportunity for individualized interaction with students. In addition, the close involvement of adjunct faculty and other local IP attorneys with the law school provides an invaluable opportunity for networking and mentorship.
UMKC also provides a variety of experiential learning options, both in and out of the classroom. Classes focusing on practical applications of intellectual property law, such as patent prosecution, intellectual property litigation, and intellectual property licensing, provide students the opportunity to put into practice legal doctrines first introduced in the core intellectual property courses. Students can also gain experience in the practical application of law by working with real clients in the Intellectual Property Law Clinic, the Entrepreneurial Law Clinic, or University Technology Transfer Office. Upper level IP students have the opportunity to represent the law school in various legal competitions, such as the Giles Sutherland Rich Memorial Moot Court Competition (patent law) and the IP LawMeet (IP licensing negotiation).
The Intellectual Property Emphasis prepares students for a diverse variety of career paths. Some students interested in intellectual property choose to pursue two emphases. For example, patent litigation is a particularly dynamic area of legal practice, and students interested in pursuing this career option can consider pursuing both the IP and the Litigation Emphases. Those interested in a transactional practice can take advantage of the law school’s entrepreneurship programs, and can pursue both the IP and the Business and Entrepreneurial Law Emphases. Students having a technical background are particularly well-suited to represent clients in matters before the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office, and UMKC’s hands-on training in patent prosecution provides them with a useful head start.