I came across the Boult Wade Tennant LLP Vacation Scheme while in my final year of university. I started the week not knowing what to expect, but left knowing that I wanted to work in IP. The exposure to big clients and real-life cases was very impressive and convinced me that this type of work was definitely for me.
Why did you choose to do an internship?
I wanted to get an insight into what it’s really like to work in IP. I took an Intellectual Property Law and Copyright module as part of my undergraduate degree, and I wanted to see where that could take me in practice and what the day-to-day life of a trade mark attorney is like. I was also interested to see what kinds of skills and attributes were important in this role and whether these matched my own. Mainly, I wanted to see whether I would enjoy this area of work and whether I could see myself pursuing a career in this industry.
How did it tie in with your overall career plans?
I knew that I wanted to use my degree in a law-based career, so the Vacation Scheme was an excellent opportunity to explore that route.
What was the application process like – any advice?
Applicants were required to submit a cover letter describing why they wanted to join the Vacation Scheme, and what makes a good patent/trade mark attorney. My advice would be to answer any application questions as honestly as you can, rather than trying to find the ‘right’ answer! Most firms will want to see something unique in your application that makes you stand out, so try to make it personal to you and focus on what you hope to gain from participating in an internship.
It is always a good idea to make a list of your skills and tailor your application towards those. Think about how you can use your strengths practically on the scheme, and how your personal skills would make you a good candidate. I found it useful to research what specific attributes were required for the internship, because then you can draw on your own experiences to show that you meet the criteria – perhaps an academic achievement, or a skill you have used in another job or at university.
What attracted you to your role?
The opportunity to work in an area which I really enjoyed studying. I love the theory behind trade mark law, so the idea of being able to put that into practice, and contribute to the registration of the brands and trade marks that consumers see every day, really appealed to me. I also liked the challenging nature of the role – I knew I wanted to be involved in a placement where I’d be encouraged to ‘think on my feet’ and apply my knowledge to complex scenarios.
What were your main duties?
The Vacation Scheme was very hands-on from the first day. We dealt with real cases and were asked to work in groups to come up with solutions to various problems. Usually we had to give oral presentations on our findings, and what I enjoyed the most was the chance to work across different teams and present on a range of trade mark matters. The types of challenges we were set would vary between contentious opposition work, to helping with the drafting of new trade mark specifications. Sometimes we would also be asked to provide written work. This was more challenging, because we would be given a case brief and a time limit, so you have to be able to work well under pressure.
We were also involved in talks, workshops and mock hearings which were really interesting, and very different from the theory-based lectures I had at university.
What were the most important things you learnt from your internship?
Communication is key. You have to be a very good communicator, both written and verbal, as you will likely be asked to contribute in these ways throughout any internship.
Attention to detail is also very important – you will be working alongside professionals whose job it is to analyse everything!
Do you have any advice for someone seeking an internship?
Even if you are unsure, definitely apply! Internships are an invaluable experience, especially if you are an undergraduate. You can learn so much by being surrounded by experts, and at Boult Wade Tennant LLP everybody was always happy to answer any questions I had. Internships are great for this – whether you have specific questions about points of law or IP, or about the field more generally, you will come away from an internship/ vacation scheme with a better understanding.
What skills did you acquire or improve during your internship?
My communication skills definitely improved over the Vacation Scheme, and my confidence in speaking and presenting ideas publicly. I also learnt how to think more creatively; often there isn’t an obvious answer to a problem and so you have to explore different options and utilise all of your resources.
It goes without saying, but I learnt a lot about the work that goes in to registering and maintaining a trade mark. The legal and practical knowledge I gained from the scheme put me in good stead when it came to being interviewed for a permanent position.