Why did you choose to do an internship?
I applied for the intern programme at Carpmaels & Ransford because I was keen to gain further experience of the day to day work of a patent attorney. When considering the profession, it can be difficult to find out what the job really entails unless you can gain some hands-on experience. I found the internship invaluable as it gave an insight into the training and development as well as exposure to the daily activities of a trainee. It offered me the opportunity to confirm my choice to join the profession and find out what life at Carpmaels was really like.
How did it tie in with your overall career plans?
Whilst I enjoyed practical work at university, I knew a career in research wasn’t the path for me. I wanted a career in which I could seek intellectual stimulation without being confined to a lab environment and the role of a patent attorney does just that. The work is challenging and varied; it combines cutting-edge science with law to work towards an outcome that is commercially important to the client.
The internship experience enabled me to get a real idea of the work-flow on a typical day. It allowed me to build on my technical ability and background knowledge of science by developing my understanding of intellectual property law in support of my application for a graduate position.
What was the application process for the internship like – any advice?
Shortly after I submitted my CV and a covering letter explaining how I felt I would benefit from the internship, I was invited for a Skype interview. During the interview, I discussed topics I had found particularly interesting during my chemistry degree and my plans for my Master’s research project.
The interview was more informal than I had anticipated, so my main advice would be to relax. The partners aren’t trying to catch you out, they just want to see a genuine interest in the profession, so use it as an opportunity to ask any questions you might have about the internship and the activities you would be involved in. I would also suggest familiarising yourself with recent patent law news and keeping up to date with any scientific breakthroughs.
What were your main duties?
The two week internship at Carpmaels involved introductory training, tutorials, work shadowing and group case study work. Working on the case study allowed me to meet with many different departments and members of the firm and to get a real insight into the process of amending claims and interacting with clients. I also found it interesting to find out more about the litigation side of the role, which remains a particular area of interest for me.
There was also the opportunity to get involved with other tasks, such as listening to a webinar presentation. I especially enjoyed sitting in on a conference call because it allowed me to experience how the firm handles client cases first-hand.
I thoroughly enjoyed working in both the Chemistry and Life Sciences Pharmaceutical practice groups, looking after families of existing patents, informing clients of new developments and addressing any client queries. I also undertook research for a partner to support opposition cases and monitor for infringements of client patents.
Finally, I was given the chance to present my ideas to a room full of experienced patent attorneys. Whilst this was undeniably daunting, it was highly worthwhile and rewarding.
What were the most important things you learnt from the internship?
I had an absolutely brilliant two weeks on the intern programme. Being able to meet with people at various stages of their career, from technical assistants to partners, enabled me to get a real feel for the culture of the firm and served to further my ambition to pursue a successful career in this field.
The internship gave me the opportunity to gain a greater understanding of how a patent portfolio is managed, particularly in learning about the assessment process to determine patent eligibility, the drafting of patent applications and the process of monitoring for potential infringements of patent rights.
Do you have any advice for someone seeking an internship?
Do your research to find out as much as you can about the firm you are applying to. Different firms have different areas of technical expertise so it is important to find the firm that best matches your interests and skill set.
Also, ask lots of questions – it’s the best way to find out about what the job is really like! Through interviews, open days and internships you get the chance to talk to people at all different stages of qualification – make the most of this! I found it particularly helpful talking to recent trainees who knew the application process well and were able to give first hand experiences.