Renowned patent law veteran shares legal profession insights

Former Chief Judge Paul Michel talks clerkships, careers and views from the bench

Paul Michel

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Sept. 14, 2012 – Former Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit Paul Michel gave more than 40 law students advice on topics ranging from cover letters to legal specialization and the job market during Thursday’s lunch hour gathering at the University of Houston Law Center. With over 20 years on the bench, Judge Michel has authored more than 800 opinions and is one of patent law’s most distinguished jurists.

“The legal job market has bottomed out and is starting to improve,” Judge Michel said at the event sponsored by the Institute for Intellectual Property & Information Law and IPSO, the organization for students of intellectual property and information law. “Change will not happen over night, but it will get there. Your prospects are quite good.”

Judge Michel, a Distinguished Jurist in Residence at the Law Center, also encouraged students to specialize in their particular area of interest as well to choose a job that has “learning potential.”

“It is more important to look for mentoring opportunities than money,” Judge Michel said. “Value the opportunity to keep developing yourself as a legal professional over your salary.”

In addition, Judge Michel stressed the significance of clerkships as they allow young lawyers to be part of the process first hand. He also told students to develop their natural talents and to look for a firm that meets their individual needs.

“Don’t be a contortionist,” Judge Michel said. “Everyone needs to find what is their natural niche. Look for the job that fits you.”

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