• Role: Trainee Patent Attorney
  • Location: Birmingham
  • University: St. Andrews
  • Degree: MPhil Physics
  • Organisation: Marks & Clerk LLP

Aline Heyerick

Why did you choose to go into the IP profession?

I have always had a tendency to be interested in anything and everything, and I enjoy learning about lots of different topics. During my time at university, I found myself in the classic situation of knowing what I did not want to do after my studies (research), but not necessarily knowing what I wanted to do instead… until I learnt about the patent profession. Being able to apply my scientific and technical knowledge every day, in combination with the legal and client facing aspects of the job, immediately sounded appealing to me. That instinct has proven to be right as I love this job.

What advice would you give someone aiming to get into the IP profession?

In addition to the obvious advice of trying to get the best result you can in your academic subject, I would recommend you develop your writing and presenting skills, as communication lies at the very core of being a patent attorney. At university, I was elected as Postgraduate President for a year, a very challenging and varied role. Taking on these extra responsibilities gave me lots of real-life experiences that I could draw from during my interview, and taught me invaluable leadership and time management skills that I have found useful in my career.

What was the application process like?

I applied for the role after seeing a careers talk by Marks & Clerk at university. I sent in a CV and cover letter and was invited for an interview. The application process involves an assessment day (don’t expect obstacle courses or being asked what kitchen utensil best represents your personality), and then a second interview, which all test your technical, written and communication skills. When I applied for a position I was living in Scotland, and I was able to do the first interview via video conference from the Edinburgh office. I later traveled down to Cambridge and Birmingham for interviews with the Partners, where I was also able to meet other trainees.

What are your main duties within your role?

The main part of my day involves assisting qualified attorneys with their work. I get a wide variety of work, and at the moment a lot of my time is spent drafting patent applications for electronics and software inventions. Drafting applications is very interesting work as it allows you to work directly with inventors, which helps you understand their thought process and really understand how the invention works.

What opportunities for development are there at Marks & Clerk?

From your very first day, the training academy gives you the academic support and knowledge to pass your exams. Perhaps even more importantly, it provides trainees with a support network of fellow trainees around the different offices that will last throughout your career. Day-to-day, you receive training from highly experienced attorneys, and specifically from your allocated mentor. There is also the opportunity to join specialist subject groups, which helps develop specialist technical knowledge, and allows you to travel around the different offices. Further professional training is also provided to help you develop non-technical business skills such as networking, communication, and personal effectiveness.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

For me, the best thing about this job is the variety of the work. Between talking to clients, inventors, and foreign attorneys, responding to patent offices around the globe, drafting new applications, and developing your skills as an attorney, no two days are the same. One of the great things about working at Marks & Clerk in particular is the people. We have a sociable office with a positive and supportive atmosphere, and colleagues often go out after work for food, drinks, and the occasional board games night!

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