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As a patent operations associate, you contribute to large-scale rollouts of processes, manage communication across teams, and lead cross-functional projects.  You will focus on the bigger picture to amplify and scale your impact.

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ADAPT Professional Guide

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Patent Operations Associate

"The patent operations associate is the unseen force that keeps the patent team running smoothly. They are the ones who ensure that all the big-picture operations are in place, so that the patent team can focus on what they do best: protecting our intellectual property."
- Patent Operations Associate, Fortune 500 Company


Undergraduate degree and/or relevant industry experience. Business experience and/or prior paralegal experience are usually preferred.   In some cases, an MBA or other advanced business degree may be required for senior roles.

Job Description and Responsibilites

Patent operations associates generally work in-house and focus on the “bigger picture” operations of the patent team’s processes rather than matter-focused work. Some law firms with larger scale patent teams may also have Patent Operations Associates.  


You will work on large-scale project rollouts that impact many users, such as new tooling launches and training. You will also manage communications for all internal and external business partners.  Your cross-functional projects can involve partners such as finance, engineering, and/or business intelligence. 

Example of Day-to-day

Vendor management: running RFI/RFPs, drafting and negotiating vendor agreements


Outside Counsel Management: onboarding new counsel, design and roll out standard operating procedures, maintain outside counsel guidelines


Patent Tooling Management: Administrate matter management system, work with developers to triage bugs, and feature requests


Billing and Invoicing Support: Manage fee schedules, oversee invoicing processes and tooling, training

Tiffany's Path 

Patent Operations, Program Manager


In my current role, I focus primarily on developing and launching patent tooling and technology that enable my team to be as informed and work efficiently as possible. I have managed large-scale roll outs that impact my team, our outside counsel, and partnering vendors. I constantly leverage the knowledge I gained through training and working as a patent paralegal to inform my programs both in the legal and project management-sense.


This is the path I took to get here.


Program Manager

Speech & Communications (B.A.)

ABA-approved Paralegal Certificate

Law Firm Patent Paralegal

Patent Operations and Technology

In-house Patent Operations Associate

These pros and cons were provided by professionals in the field and are purely subjective.



No billable hours.


Larger scope projects.


Transferable skills.

Can heavily rely on cooperation from other departments. 

Less legal, or patents, focused than other roles; more business focused.

Pro-tips on how to land the job

Understand the legal operations landscape. 


Able to demonstrate domain knowledge and business acumen.

Understand the company and how patent operations can benefit the team.

Helpful Resources

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