Do you want to learn a bit more about what training with an intellectual property firm is really like? Leading IP firm Mathys & Squire have shared some of their regular ‘What our people say’ profiles with us to help give you an insight into this niche profession and decide whether it will be the right fit for your academic background, skills and interests. This one comes from Rachael Evans, a Technical Assistant within Mathys & Squire’s Life Sciences sector…
Why did you want to become a patent attorney?
I always enjoyed the writing, analysis and problem-solving aspects of my undergrad and PhD degrees, but much less so the practical side. Patent law appealed to me as a career that would allow me to use my technical knowledge, writing and problem-solving skills without having to go into the lab. I also loved the idea of learning about cutting edge research and working with inventors to protect their work and help them realise its commercial potential.
What is it like on a day to day basis?
The work varies a lot day to day! You might spend a few days drafting the same application or you might work on multiple cases in a single day. My days typically include working through office actions from various patent offices around the world, drafting reporting letters to clients and preparing instructions to overseas attorneys or responses to the patent office. I then work through everything in detail with a Partner to prepare versions that are ready to send. There is so much to learn about the profession and the time spent working through cases with Partners
is so valuable.
What has the training been like?
The first few weeks were quite intense, there’s a lot to learn practically in terms of the systems and processes, but there is also a lot of support provided. For the patent law side of things, you really do learn on the job. Within the first few weeks I quickly started to gain some independence. Most of what I’ve learnt so far has come from discussions with the Partner I work with. He’ll go through all my work with me, point out which bits need work and help me understand why things are done in a certain way. It’s been encouraging to realise how much time more senior fee earners are willing to give to help you understand something, it makes the vast amount you have to learn feel less daunting.
What has been the biggest challenge?
The job is deadline driven and so, no matter how hard you work to plan your workload, if a couple of urgent jobs come in you just have to get them done. Missing deadlines can have serious (and expensive!) consequences and so sometimes you need to rearrange your plans to get things done in a short timeframe. Luckily, urgent work coming in at the last minute doesn’t happen too often, so for the most part you can expect a healthy work life balance! One of the other things I found difficult to start with was recording time. While you’re starting out, there is no pressure in this regard at all but coming from an academic background, charging for time can be a strange concept to get used to. It’s important to remember that you do add value to the clients you work for and the work you do is an important (sometimes critical) part of their commercialisation process.