First-year UMKC law students pass patent bar

Recently, two students, David McKinney and Stephen Krogmeier, passed the Patent Bar Examination before even starting law school, which is a significant accomplishment. We had the opportunity to speak with these students and hear about their experiences.

David McKinney is currently a 1L student seeking a career in patent and intellectual property law. David grew up in Budapest, Hungary from the ages of 7-16 before finishing his last two years of high school here in Kansas City. David recalls how growing up overseas exposed him to very unique experiences and he believes that living in Hungary has given him a unique perspective of the world.

Q: What made you come to the UMKC School of Law and what interested you in the program?
A: I was initially impressed with UMKC’s class offerings in patent and intellectual property law. However, I quickly found out that UMKC was offering a summer start, and that sealed the deal for me. A summer start program was tremendously advantageous for someone like me, because UMKC said they would allow me to take some 2L intellectual property classes as a 1L [student] during the fall and spring semesters. Since I knew that I was passionate about patent law, I could start studying IP law from the very onset of my legal education.

Q: What made you decide to take the Patent Bar before starting law school?
A: I was previously employed as a sales engineer at a company with 400 plus patents worldwide. I knew I wanted to come to law school and the idea that I could combine my passion for engineering with my new found appreciation of law, led me to talk to our company’s patent attorney. During our conversation he recommended that I study and pass the patent bar before law school. So it was really with his recommendation that I began to study for the Patent Bar. UMKC further encouraged this. Specifically, I was able to talk to Professor Holman and he too thought that I could pass [the patent bar] despite having no background in law.

Q: Was the Patent Bar more difficult than you expected?
A: Yes and no. First, patent law relies heavily on their specific verbiage, so there was a huge learning curve at the beginning. Second, patent law has detailed rules, like the rest of law, that outline the procedure that needs to be followed. This is where investing some money in a class really paid off in the long run.

Q: Do you believe that passing the Patent Bar early has given you an advantage over other students?
A: There is an obvious advantage as it is a significant accomplishment and potential employers will look favorably upon it. But the practical advantage is how it taught me to be comfortable with not knowing the answer. As I have started law school I see a common theme of how in law, you will rarely know the answer. I found that I am willing to give myself grace when I feel absolutely lost in studying for one of my classes and I realize that if I put forth the effort, clarity, or relative clarity, will come in due time.

Stephen Krogmeier is also a 1L student at UMKC who successfully passed the patent bar before beginning his coursework. Stephen is originally from Saint Louis and initially moved to Kansas City to attend Rockhurst University, where he received a B.S. in Physics and a B.A. in English. Stephen has come to think of Kansas City as his home and has become quite fond of everything the city has to offer. He says that this is why he chose to attend UMKC, as well as discovering professors that were not only knowledgeable, but also approachable and tuition rates that were quite affordable. Stephen believes that the law school will prepare him with everything he needs to pass the bar examination in the future and that the school will provide him the opportunity to network with a number of practicing lawyers.

Q: What made you decide to take the Patent Bar before starting law school?
A: I decided to take the patent bar early after a UMKC professor, Professor Holman, called me in the spring. We had met before, during the application process at UMKC, but I was surprised to hear from him. He advised me to look into taking the patent bar early to get ahead of any potential competition and to differentiate myself from other students.

Q: How did UMKC prepare you to take the Patent Bar earlier than other students?
A: As I said, Professor Holman gave me the impetus to even try this so early. He directed me towards the right test preparation companies and materials from the Practicing Law Institute. I flew to Atlanta in early June, a few weeks after receiving my undergraduate diplomas, and took an intensive one-week course from PLI. After that I devoted most of my summer to work and study, spending hours working in a paper distribution center in the afternoons and nights while studying [for the patent bar] in the mornings.

Q: Was the Patent Bar more difficult than you expected?
A: Yes, it is the hardest test I have ever taken. Only about 60% of test-takers pass the examination every year and the numbers have dipped down much lower in the past. The fact patterns, wording and answers are all designed to trick you, even if you know the material. You must be meticulous and thorough, but quick enough to finish around 70% of the questions correctly in the allotted 6 hours.

Q: Do you believe that passing the Patent Bar early has given you an advantage over other students?
A: Certainly. Not only does it look great on a resume but passing the patent bar will enable me to eventually act as a patent agent.

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