Should I take the Patent Bar While I'm Still in School?
When you take the patent bar exam while you are in law school:
1. Sometimes passing the Patent Bar can give someone with not-so-great grades just the boost needed to get hired. Note that passing the Patent Bar does magically not turn a BS in Biology into a PhD in Computer Science. Patent practitioners are almost always hired because of their underlying degree(s), and The Ever-changing Market Rules on which sciences are "hot" and how much grad school is preferred.
2. The timeline for racking up patent experience can begin the minute you pass the patent bar and start work as a Patent Agent. You are able to bill at a professional, not-a-law-clerk rate.
3. You have to pay for bar review and the bar exam and your future employer may not reimburse you.
When you take the patent bar exam after starting work as a lawyer:
1. Employers pay for the bar review and the bar exam. Sometimes candidates are sent to fancy hotels in New York to study for this exam.
2. Some IP firms prefer that that their attorneys take the patent bar after they work in the office for a bit. What happens, then, if you want to change jobs before passing the test? Your marketability is somewhat diminished because you been a patent clerk, not a patent lawyer. When asked "How long have you been a patent lawyer?" and the answer is "I'm not one," you may have hit on a deal-breaking conversation killer. Or, perhaps not. There is no way to predict this with certainty.
3. You have to take the exam on your employer’s timeline.