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How to Become an Intellectual Property Paralegal

October 23, 2023
4 min read


Reviewed by:

David Merson

Former Head of Pre-Law Office, Northeastern University, & Admissions Officer, Brown University

Reviewed: 10/23/23

Are you interested in a career in intellectual property law, but less excited about going to law school? You can have both as an intellectual property paralegal!

Two female and one male paralegal talking in office

Bees—they’re pesky, ruin picnics, and leave a painful sting. But, bees are also essential to our survival; they provide us with honey, pollen, beeswax, and are the largest pollinators, contributing to a third of the world’s food production. These hard workers are essential parts of our agriculture but do not get the same credit as farmers. 

You can think of paralegals playing a similar role, minus the annoyance. While they tend to work behind the scenes with lawyers that get credit for cases, they are essential to the legal field! 

While they do not provide honey, they do complete about a third of lawyer’s tasks by ensuring they have all the information required to create the most compelling cases. To learn more about how to become an intellectual property paralegal, one of the most in-demand and high paying legal specialities, read on!

Steps to Becoming an Intellectual Property Paralegal

Becoming an intellectual property paralegal only involves a few steps, but will require dedication and hard work:

Step One: Choose the Correct Post-Secondary Degree

Paralegals require a good foundation in law to join the legal field. There are three options you can pursue to gain this education:

  • An associate’s degree: the most popular option paralegals pursue is a two-year associate’s degree in paralegal studies
  • A bachelor’s degree: a four-year degree in paralegal studies can offer you enhanced training to qualify for a wider range of jobs
  • A post-baccalaureate certificate: for students that have already completed a bachelor’s degree but require further training to specialize in paralegal studies; these certificates typically take up to a year to complete

While associate’s degrees allow you to enter the field as soon as possible, bachelor’s degrees are often preferred by employers. Considering intellectual property law is a popular speciality, having this degree can give you a competitive advantage.

Step Two: Consider Taking Additional Courses

Completing a degree or certificate in paralegal studies is the only requirement to become a paralegal. However, joining this field with only a general education in paralegal studies may be difficult.

To gain more expertise in intellectual property law, you should consider taking courses in this specific legal specialty. You may be able to take electives while you’re completing your degree or additional courses afterwards. 

For instance, UC Berkeley offers a Paralegal Intellectual Property Law course to students enrolled in their paralegal studies degree and those that have completed some paralegal studies courses elsewhere. 

This is an excellent option for aspiring intellectual property paralegals to learn more about trademark, copyright, patent, and trade-secret law. Berkeley is also a prestigious law school, so completing a course from this institution can strengthen your resume!

Step Three: Consider Gaining Certification

While gaining paralegal certification is not necessary to become an intellectual property paralegal, doing so will differentiate your resume and make you a more attractive employee. There are three organizations that offer paralegal certification:

Some organizations also offer experienced paralegals certification courses in intellectual property law. If you’re considering getting a specialized certification, ensure you do so through a reputable institution. Our top pick is the University of Texas’ Intellectual Property Law Specialist Certificate.

What Does An Intellectual Property Paralegal Do?

As you learn more about this career, you may wonder, “what does an intellectual property paralegal do?” The general tasks these professionals are responsible for include:

  • Completing initial client intakes 
  • Drafting applications for trademarks, copyrights, domain names, etc.
  • Managing the applications by ensuring materials are submitted on time, handling correspondence, and responding to appeals
  • Preparing and filing legal documents
  • Researching the USPTO database to ensure that existing copyrights/patents/trademarks don’t interfere with new applications
  • Ensuring maintenance fees are paid on time
  • Generating docket reports
  • General administrative work
Graphic copyright logo with lock over it

Your exact duties will depend on the firm you work for! Depending on the level of assistance the attorney requires, you may be responsible for more or fewer duties. 

Intellectual Property Paralegal Salary

The final aspect to consider when discussing how to become an intellectual property paralegal is your expected salary. Considering intellectual property law is one of the highest paying specialties, there is a wide range in this field.

Intellectual property paralegals generally make around $67,000 to $85,000 a year, but earn more as they gain experience and a more advanced skill set.

FAQs: Becoming an Intellectual Property Paralegal 

Below, you’ll find the answers to frequently asked questions about how to become an intellectual property paralegal.

1. What Are the Educational Requirements to Become an Intellectual Property Paralegal?

At the minimum, students should have an associate’s degree or post-baccalaureate degree in paralegal studies, however bachelor’s degrees in this subject are more marketable. Aspiring intellectual property paralegals should also take electives in this speciality during or after the completion of their degree.

2. What Skills Are Needed to Be an Intellectual Property Paralegal?

The most important skills for intellectual property paralegals to possess include:

  • Excellent written and oral communication: to present accurate information in drafts, contracts, and other documentation and communicate with other legal professionals 
  • Good reading comprehension: to read, synthesize, and craft arguments from given preliminary information and secondary research 
  • Strong analytical skills: to digest the information you’re given, find applicable rules and regulations, and help the attorney create a compelling argument 
  • Strong organization skills: to juggle multiple deadlines for clients at different stages of the legal process

Successful intellectual property paralegals will also have significant knowledge in the field and a willingness to continue expanding their knowledge, so that they may serve the attorneys and clients they work for better.

3. Is Intellectual Property Law a Good Career?

Yes, intellectual property law is a great career. You will be an integral part of the law firm you work for and will be well-paid for your hard work! Intellectual property is a field that is constantly evolving, so you can expect to take on diverse cases and have various opportunities to advance your career as you gain more experience in the field.

4. Do You Have to Go to Law School to Become an Intellectual Property Paralegal?

No, paralegals are not lawyers. You do not have to go through the arduous process of going to law school and completing a JD to become an intellectual property paralegal! While you’ll still be heavily involved in your firm’s cases, you will not require an expensive legal degree to do so!

Final Thoughts

While you’ll be a busy bee as you complete the necessary education and training to become an intellectual property paralegal, this legal speciality is all the buzz lately! By joining it, you’ll be playing an essential role in the legal field and entering a lucrative, high-paying profession!

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