The Law Clerk Reengineered

Our IP Law Clerk Program

Just like our clients are competing for market share, we’re constantly competing for top legal talent. That’s why we tinkered with the typical law clerk program to bring more value to the experience and to ensure that those who eventually join our team are already ahead of the curve.

How Long is Our Program?

First, we got rid of the whole notion that clerkships are just for summer. Our clerks are welcome to work the entire year and as many hours as they want. Many work out a full-time commitment in the summer and go part-time during the school year. This gives our clerks a five-month edge over their classmates and the real work experience deepens their grasp of what’s being discussed in class.

What Kind of Work Will You Do?

Next, we decided that our clerks should have real work to do. Our program allows them to dive right in on tasks like research, drafting patent applications and Office Action responses, conducting litigation research, and helping with business development initiatives. We also pair each law clerk with not one, but two mentors. An associate and a partner mentor are there to show our clerks the ropes, review their work and help them forge relationships with other attorneys at the firm. Our clerks are well trained and treated as professionals.

Do We Hire Law Clerks?

The number of clerks we invite into the program directly reflects the number of associates we plan to hire. 60% of our current attorney team started at the firm as law clerks. Inviting all of our clerks to join us as associates is the norm, not the exception. Offers are extended in the fall and those who decide to join our team will continue as clerks until they graduate and pass the bar.

What Else Can You Expect?

Yes, we are patent attorneys (and engineers), but we’re fun too. Our law clerks take part in many of our social events, which over the years have included curling, lawn bowling, wine tastings, baseball games, and our annual holiday party, as well as professional and networking events that we sponsor. If you’re here, you’re part of the team.

While not a given, we have found opportunities to arrange special opportunities for our law clerks, such as visiting the USPTO and even international travel. Read about a recent example here.

Learn more about us by contacting our Recruiting & Diversity Committee at [email protected]. Also, check back here for details about our annual IP Career Prep After Hours event where we conduct mock job interviews and help aspiring IP attorneys sharpen up their resumes.

Patterson Thuente IP Law Clerk Program Reviews


As a law student interested in IP, I really valued how the clerk program provided a broad exposure to both patent litigation and prosecution, and allowed me to work with a variety of different technologies. From day one, I was able to take on substantive projects and work with incredibly bright and helpful attorneys, which gave me a good idea of what life is like as an associate at the firm. Moreover, the firm’s relaxed environment, open-door policy, and various fun events throughout the year made me immediately feel like a part of the team.

Kevin Boyle, Student, University of Minnesota Law School (Patterson Thuente IP Law Clerk 5/2017 – 4/2018)


As a law clerk, I was able to gain hands-on experience and really felt as though I was a part of the team. I truly appreciate the open door policy of the firm, as well as working with highly skilled and friendly attorneys. I was provided with the support of great mentors, which helped to reduce the learning curve considering that patent law, and in particular patent prosecution, generally is absent from most law school curricula. Going through the program provided me with a better understanding of how patent law works and eased my transition from law clerk to associate.

Jameelah Haadee, Patent Counsel at John Deere (Patterson Thuente IP Associate 10/2013 – 6/2016; Law Clerk 10/2012 – 10/2013)


The clerk program allowed us to do work similar to what a newer associate would be doing. From day one, I was treated as a peer and was able to work directly with associates and partners, as well as with clients. Because of the rigorous clerk program, the transition from a clerk to a first-year associate was very smooth and I hit the ground running.

Daidre Burgess, Partner (Law Clerk 1/2005 – 10/2006)


What I valued about the program was the year-around aspect, which enabled me to do several long-term projects, build upon past experiences and work with a variety of attorneys. The firm was very flexible; my school work did not suffer and I took extra time off around finals. I also enjoyed the work — it was important and interesting, not just “grunt” work.

J. Paul Haun, Partner (Law Clerk 5/2001 – 10/2002)