If you like IP and you want to make yourself marketable to the top firms, then you should look into the highly specialised world of life sciences patent litigation.
Granted, you might need a good chemistry or biology background to get in, but if you do you are likely to be among the most sought-after lawyers in the firm.
A lot of the big pharmaceutical companies are looking at the smaller life sciences start-ups for inspiration. AstraZeneca is one example. The company is extending the reach of its legal team as it hunts for litigators to inspect the patents of acquisition targets in order to find weaknesses in their IP portfolios.
AstraZeneca wants to buy up smaller patent-owning companies to boost its drug pipeline. The plan is key to AstraZenecas business strategy.
Andrew Farquharson, director of biotech patents at AstraZeneca, said: Were looking at some external law firms to advise on this. Its normal practice to look at the patents.
If you do make it as a life sciences specialist, you might find yourself moving firms quite often. Partners are shifting around and taking their teams with them.
At the start of the year, Herbert Smith dealt a blow to Bird & Bird by securing the hire of its rated life sciences partner David Wilson.
The hire is in line with the firms ambition to become a leading adviser to the niche life sciences sector.
Herbert Smith head of IP Nick Gardner said: I believe [Wilsons] appointment means we now have two of the countrys leading pharmaceutical patent litigators in our team. Im confident this will lead to further growth in our IP practice.
Wilsons experience includes successfully advising on two recent high-profile patent disputes, Transkaryotic Therapies v Kirin-Amgen and Celltech v Medimmune. His client list also includes Pfizer, Baxter and Sanofi-Aventis.
Bristows, one of the Citys most respected patent firms, also had difficulty keeping its life sciences partners. The firm has lost a five-partner team, which is leaving to set up its own boutique.
This will create opportunities for younger lawyers, so swot up on your gene therapy.