Law firms that want a piece of the burgeoning stem cell research industry — which could be flush with California’s potential $3 billion investment over the next decade — will have to rethink their approach to the fledgling industry.

Optimistically, there may be two to five years before significant research moves from the laboratory to commercial development, but “lawyers who hope to get in on this will have to do what we do, educate themselves not only about legal issues but the science,” said Michael Shuster, intellectual property attorney with Fenwick & West of Mountain View, Calif.