I read Natural Sciences at the University of Cambridge, specialising in Chemistry. Although I enjoyed my undergraduate degree, I realised that a career in academia was not right for me. However, I knew I wanted to maintain some level of contact with the scientific field.
Upon learning of the patent profession, I found the prospect of working with new applications of technology exciting. After conversing with trainees whom I knew within the profession, the day-to-day aspects of the job appealed to me – the work sounded challenging, rigorous and intellectually stimulating.
After graduating in 2012, I applied to a number of different firms. Some of these applications were in response to specific job listings, but the majority were speculative. After attending several interviews, I received an offer from Elkington and Fife.
I joined the Chemical and Pharmaceutical team of Elkington and Fife LLP in January 2013, and my training started from day one. The majority of this training happens on-the-job through exposure to different work types. The work includes reporting and responding to official communications issued from patent offices around the world, advising clients with respect to infringement through opinion work, literature searching, due diligence, assignments, oppositions and appeals. The subject-matter can vary from pharmaceuticals and consumer products to inks and mechanical devices.
This on-the-job learning is complemented by external courses throughout the training process. The firm pays for trainees to attend the Queen Mary Certificate in Intellectual Property Law, which provides exemption from the UK foundation examinations. I passed this course at the beginning of 2014. The course is quite intensive, but it provides a good grounding across Intellectual Property – I found it interesting to learn more about the legal background to the day-to-day aspects of the job, and it is also an opportunity to learn about the areas of IP outside of patents. In addition, there is the social aspect of meeting other trainees.
My continual learning at Elkington and Fife has been facilitated by the support and advice provided by the team. I have also found aspects such as the monthly group meetings to be helpful, where recent case law is discussed.
If you are considering a career as a patent attorney, I would say that academic ability is important to succeed. However, written communication skills, a good work ethic, an eye for detail and a desire to be challenged are also important. Being willing to learn is particularly vital in order to be retrained in law. In addition, you will need to be confident with the prospect of interacting with clients as your experience increases.
A career as a patent attorney is not for everyone, but for the right person it is highly challenging, rewarding and stimulating. If you’re considering entering the profession, I highly recommend that you join Elkington and Fife.