Intellectual Property Lawyers



Intellectual property lawyers focus on the protection of creative thought. They may work with patents to protect their clients' inventions and discoveries; copyrights to protect works their clients have authored, such as music or software programs; and trademarks to protect brand names and symbols associated with their clients' businesses. Intellectual property (IP) attorneys may also work with companies to protect their trade secrets. "While not formally or publicly registered, trade secrets are statutorily protected intellectual p...

Quick Facts


Median Salary



Employment Prospects



Minimum Education Level

Law Degree



Internship or clerkship





Personality Traits



According to, the median annual salary for an IP attorney in 2020 was $136,761, with salaries ranging from $78,000 to $197,000 or higher. Patent attorneys usually accept patent cases on an hourly basis, at rates that can range from $100 to $500 per hour. The U.S. Department of Labor reported that the median income for all lawyers was $115,820 in May 2019; the lowest paid 10 percent...

Work Environment

IP attorneys, like lawyers in other areas, have heavy workloads and work long hours. IP lawyers may spend hours poring over documents, with few breaks. Many law firms have weekly goals for their lawyers that include the number of hours billed to the client. Some of these goals can be extremely demanding. Most of the lawyer's time is spent indoors meeting with clients, researching, or arguing in...


The U.S. Department of Labor predicts average employment growth for lawyers through 2028, but the outlook for intellectual property law is more promising. This field is relatively new and the demand for IP professionals doesn't show signs of slowing. The growth of the computer industry and the Internet have provided a great amount of work for IP lawyers. As new computer software and online medi...