Attorney Norman Oblon Speaks to MC Students

By: Shelton Fitch Staff Writer

On Thursday October 10, Norman Oblon, an American patent attorney based in the state of Virginia, came to talk to Montgomery College students about combining Engineering and Law degrees. Obtaining both degrees can mean an increase in job opportunity, and better chances for starting your own business.

Oblon is a chemical engineer by trade, but he also continued his studies, and went to Law school in order to complete his law degree as well. He had no intentions of going into law or getting involved with patents, which are basically documents stating that an inventor has the right to manufacture, use or sell his/her invention. “I came from a poor family in Philadelphia. My parents could not afford to send me to engineering school,” said Oblon, on what drove him to pursue a work study program.

He also knew that he did not want to run the risk of being drafted into the military during the Vietnam War, so he worked at the U.S. Patent Office. Knowing that working at the U.S. Patent Office would allow him to be exempt from a draft, Oblon readily took the opportunity and received a spot in the office. “The Patent Office looks for engineering degrees,” said Oblon.

People with engineering degrees can examine patent applications that have to do with the latest technologies, and they require some background in math and science to better understand them. Oblon eventually went on to Drexel University to receive his college degree in Engineering. Gaining experience and expanding his knowledge, Oblon realized that he was not happy working at the patent office. He wanted something better.

Oblon went on to become a patent advisor for the U.S. Navy. After completing his law degree, Oblon’s law firm, which is based in Alexandria, VA has become one of the biggest employers in the state of Virginia. He explained that you can combine Engineering and Law, and work in a law firm in the U.S. or overseas as a patent attorney. With technological breakthroughs happening all the time, patent law has become one of the most popular fields of law. “Since the world has become globalized, patents have become very important,” said Oblon, when explaining why patent law is popular and essential in today’s world.

Oblon also said that patent law interested him since he could combine his love of science and law, and build his own company where he would be his own boss. Contrary to popular belief, law school is no harder than engineering school, is what Oblon emphasized during his talk. The work load is the same, and most of the ways you apply what you’ve learned is similar. Law school should not intimidate you, if you are interested in pursuing law.

When asked what advice he could give students about finding a job in today’s job market, Oblon said, “Look at yourself. What special skills do you have? That’s something to use. For example, do you speak any other languages? Any important attributes you have are important to use. Even if you want to work somewhere else, other counties are interested in American lawyers.” Anything can be achieved. You must be confident in yourself, try your best and plan your future, so that you will have a reachable goal that you can meet with dedication and fortitude.