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  • Role: Trainee Patent Attorney
  • Location: London
  • University: Oxford
  • Degree: MChem and DPhil

James Cracknell

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After several years involved in academic research, first completing a doctorate and then working as a post-doctoral researcher, I knew that I would pursue a career in science. I considered many different options, but none of the careers I investigated offered me the balance of what I was looking for – the opportunity to be exposed to cutting-edge science whilst retaining a broad focus on a wide range of specialisms. However, when I looked into the work of a patent attorney, the job seemed a natural fit: being immersed in the latest scientific developments, but working with a legal and commercial mind-set.

I joined the Chemical and Pharmaceutical group at J A Kemp in September 2013 with a MChem and DPhil from the University of Oxford, plenty of enthusiasm and a desire to learn more. From day one I have been immersed in the work of the group, handling various aspects of drafting and prosecuting patent applications in the UK, Europe, and around the world. I have worked with clients ranging from university departments and spin-out companies to global pharmaceutical firms, and in technology areas ranging from cosmetics to cancer imaging agents. Each new case has its own complexities, and there is always something new to learn.

At J A Kemp, all new trainees are assigned a Partner in the Firm as a mentor, the main person responsible for overseeing your professional progress, and ensuring that you are exposed to a wide variety of work of an appropriate level. Being exposed to real client work from the start gives trainees at J A Kemp an excellent grounding in patent law, and this is backed up by an extensive series of in-house tutorials to support trainees in passing the necessary professional exams.

Of course, there is more to life than work, and J A Kemp encourages all employees to enjoy a healthy work-life balance. Work as a patent attorney is not all-consuming, and there is no expectation of working the long hours or weekends that are the norm in many other professions. Much of the day is spent working alone in the office, but a regular cycle of social events, from Summer and Christmas parties to quiz nights and pub trips ensures that there are plenty of opportunities to socialise.

There is no short cut to qualifying as a patent attorney, and the process takes time, hard work and dedication. However, the rewards of a highly stimulating job with real-world impacts make it well worth the effort. Two years in, I am very happy with my career choice, and am confident that I could not have chosen a better firm to work for.

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