Friday, June 17, 2011

Too many lawyers with technical degrees, or too many underemployed scientists?

Within a post titled Lawyers & engineers: too many, too few, just right?by Bill Schweber is the text:

But what really has me ambivalent is that so many of the lawyers at top IP firms are highly educated technologists. That's good in a way, since that means they are very likely to understand what their clients are talking about.

But it is also bad since we—our society—have invested a lot of money and opportunity cost in getting these folks to their Ph.D.s—and for what? Is this the best use of such an expensive, highly trained, and presumably skilled human resource? Do we instead need more genuine innovation and innovators, and less lawyering? Or does such knowledgeable legal assistance actually promote appropriate ownership of IP, and the associated long-term benefits?

As to investing money and opportunity cost, Bill (and a few others) seem to have forgotten the words of Alan Hale (of Hale-Bopp) from the year 1997:

I am Alan Hale, the co-discoverer of Comet Hale-Bopp which, as I'm sure you're aware, is getting a tremendous amount of media attention at this time. Like I'm sure is true for many of you, I was inspired by the scientific discoveries and events taking place during my childhood to pursue a career in science only to find, after completing the rigors of undergraduate and graduate school, that the opportunities for us to have a career in science are limited at best and are which I usually describe as "abysmal." Based upon my own experiences, and those of you with whom I have discussed this issue, my personal feeling is that, unless there are some pretty drastic changes in the way that our society approaches science and treats those of us who have devoted our lives to making some of our own contributions, there is no way that I can, with a clear conscience, encourage present-day students to pursue a career in science. It really pains me a great deal to say something like that, but I feel so strongly about this that I have publicly made this statement at almost every opportunity I have been given.

I am trying to use the media attention that is currently being focused upon me to raise awareness of this state of affairs, and perhaps start to effect those changes that will allow me to convey a more positive message to the next generation. So far, I'm sensing a certain reluctance among the media to discuss this issue, as they seem far more interested in items which I consider to be irrelevant and unimportant. But I intend to keep hammering away at this, and I'd like to believe that eventually some are going to sit up and take notice. I am also attempting to schedule meetings with some of our government leaders, to see if I can at least get some acknowledgement from Washington that this is a problem that needs to be dealt with.

See previous IPBiz post:

OR, of more recent vintage:

check out NBC from two years ago-->

A NBC Nightly News story on 3 April 09 discussed how an IBM Fishkill employee [Frederic (Rick) Clark] was offered the opportunity to keep his job, in India at the prevailing salary in India [20 to 25% of US].


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