I have always found science immensely interesting on paper but practical work repetitive and unrewarding. Therefore, I wanted a job where I could use my knowledge of chemistry every day in a role that is commercially important and intellectually stimulating.
After hearing about the patent profession I approached several companies and was lucky enough to be granted short periods of work experience at two private patent practices in London. I quickly realised that I enjoyed using the skills that are indispensable to being a patent attorney; being technically minded and having an eye for detail.
Getting a job in the patent profession can seem daunting as there are relatively few new positions in the industry each year and so the application process is highly competitive. It took persistence but after two rounds of interviews and written tests I got the job I wanted at Carpmaels & Ransford.
After starting, there’s a steep learning curve and a lot to learn. The partners at Carpmaels have helped to smooth the transition into a new career by setting up an excellent training programme. I attend in-house tutorials and lectures on a variety of IP-related topics, which have given me a firm grasp of basic law.
However, most of the learning is on the job, and very quickly I became used to dealing with clients and handling a variety of work.
One of the most distinctive features of training at Carpmaels is that I work for a number of partners and senior associates. This allows me to learn rapidly as I have the chance to gain experience from, and ask questions of, all the talented attorneys who work in the office. As everyone I learn from has a different working style, I am able to develop my own style rather than being fixed to one particular approach.
A particularly demanding aspect of the job is learning how to manage my time effectively. Good organisation and effective prioritisation is essential to ensure that everything goes according to plan. Being organised also means that my role as a patent trainee is generally a 9-5 job. Occasionally, I have had to work late when an important deadline is coming up.
However, there is a lot of freedom to manage my own workload and independently find out what works best for me.
Much of my work involves summarising and analysing technical documents which an examiner at the European Patent Office has cited as precluding the grant of a patent application I am prosecuting. By picking out the salient points, I formulate written arguments in response on behalf of a client.
Having to balance the commercial interests of the client, who generally wants to get the broadest possible protection for their invention, with the demands of the examiner is challenging but always fascinating. As a new trainee at Carpmaels I feel really appreciated for what I bring to the firm.
Within my first six months, I have been involved in projects that I didn’t expect to take part in until I was more experienced. One of the most interesting was an investigation for a major pharmaceutical company that wanted us to assess the patentability of a new class of compounds that they were considering buying the rights to. I enjoyed delving into the science involved and learning about the commercial aspects which have to be taken into account by our client.
My next goal which is still a long way off is to qualify as a UK and European patent attorney. The first step of this process is at the end of my first year, when I start the intellectual property law certificate course at Queen Mary University, London. Passing the exams is challenging. However, the friendly atmosphere at Carpmaels, where everyone is encouraged to bounce ideas off one another and ask a lot of questions, should make the qualification process a lot more manageable.