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  • Role: Trainee Patent Attorney
  • Location: Bath
  • University: Bath
  • Degree: PhD Mechanical Engineering

Emily Dodgson

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I started with Abel & Imray in November 2011 after finishing a PhD in mechanical engineering at the University of Bath and having previously worked as an engineer in industry. I’d enjoyed my PhD, and had assumed when I started that I would pursue a career in research. However I eventually realised that, while I like understanding technology and figuring out how things work, I didn’t enjoy being focused on a single technical area for such a long period of time.

One of the things I like about this career is that I am required to quickly pick up how inventions in very different fields of technology work, and identify the key commercial and technical drivers underlying them. For example, one day I may be dealing with an invention relating to aircraft aerodynamics, while the next day I could be looking at an innovation in textile manufacturing.

I work with three different partners on a regular basis which provides the opportunity to work on cases across a broad range of technology and for a variety of clients. Trainees are involved in client cases from the very first day, albeit with a lot of support and supervision initially. Before any of your work is sent out to a client you discuss it with your supervisor to make sure it is correct not just technically and legally but also commercially, linguistically and grammatically – right down to the last comma sometimes!

This level of feedback is quite different from what I was used to as a PhD student but it is a great way of training and really good preparation for working independently once you have qualified.

At least initially, the work is predominantly desk based (although you do get to meet clients) and typical tasks include responding to Examination Reports issued by the UK or European patent offices and instructing foreign agents in relation to prosecutions in their territory as well as drafting patent applications and considering freedom to operate (infringement) issues. I’ve also filed some registered design applications. The work is very deadline driven and with several cases on the go at one time it is important to be able to prioritise.

Many of the current partners started as trainees with the firm themselves and, like virtually all the patent attorneys I have met so far, they are happy to pass on their knowledge and experience. As a medium-sized firm I think Abel & Imray provides a great training environment; there is a good sized pool of experienced attorneys to learn from, but the partners are very accessible and there is also a degree of flexibility as to how you go about qualifying.

Typically, Abel & Imray trainees attend the Queen Mary course after about nine months to a year in the firm, but otherwise you can choose to sit the qualifying exams when you feel ready to do so. I’ve chosen to take some of the UK Advanced Papers in the Autumn of this year, and have taken part in both in-house and external tutorials and revision courses in preparation. I’ve also had the opportunity to attend a number of CIPA training events and to go to Munich to observe hearings at the European Patent Office.

The ability to combine technology, law and language is what attracted me to patent law initially, and I am pleased to say that, so far, I have found it to be an intellectually challenging and rewarding career that I would thoroughly recommend!

Abel & Imray were voted Firm of the Year 2016 MIPFirmYear16.jpg---Abel-&-Imray

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