I've applied for a job at the USPTO (US Patent & Trademark Office) as a patent examiner. No idea whether they will take me or not, but it would be nice to be paid to find out whether patents are what I'm interested in rather than paying a law school $50k a year to find out. I am still going into law. I am interested in contracts and other transactional issues as well as public policy. I've worked in DC for two summer which has given me a healthy respect for what engineers can do in non-technical positions.
Working for the USPTO is something I've been thinking about as the likelihood of school this year gets dimmer and dimmer. Washington D.C. would be a fun place to live for a few years and I'd be a Virginia resident if I decide to go to George Mason in the future. We'll see what happens. I did find the application process interesting. First I was required to submit my transcripts for review. The next step was an online timed quiz. I thought it was going to be a bunch of technical questions to test my background. Instead it was more of a personality test. Questions like: "The word that your friends would use most often to describe you is:" Choose one of the following. There is no way to know what they are looking for, so I figured I'll be honest and see what happens. No word yet on whether I passed phase two.
If I do get this job and find out that patents is not what I'm interested in at least I'll know that going into law school. I have a friend who just graduated law school and I agree with him, if you go into patent law you can easily be pigeon-holed and end up doing nothing else. You better know that this is what you want to do before picking summer jobs and firms. I intend to be well informed. The other option I'm pursuing is taking the patent bar (USPTO exam) before school. I could try and get a job as a patent agent with a firm then. All good options though a big part of me is still hoping that I'll hear back from Georgetown and that they'll say they want me. I'd drop all of these contingency plans in a heartbeat if they would admit me!