If you are currently studying for an undergraduate or postgraduate degree in an Engineering discipline, a career as a patent attorney could be the ideal fit for your skillset, academic background and interests. This niche profession allows STEM graduates to regularly work at the forefront of technological and scientific innovation, as well as offering mental and intellectual challenges and the chance to put the knowledge learned during your degree to use on a daily basis.
Here, Wynne Jones IP explain more about why a career in intellectual property is the perfect choice for engineering students.
Engineers and patent attorneys are more alike than they may realise.
While at first glance one may appear to be more involved in the world of science, while the other is firmly rooted in law, they in fact have quite clear similarities.
Firstly, and most importantly, patent attorneys are engineers and scientists. One of the main entry criteria required to enter the profession is a STEM degree. As a result, all patent attorneys have an in-built understanding of scientific principals before even beginning their legal training.
Secondly, both engineers and attorneys are inherently problem solvers. Their main professional focus revolves around finding a solution to issues, whether these be based around legally protecting products against infringement, or finding a revolutionary way to advance technology, construction, or automotive industries.
Finally, through their proximity to ground-breaking products and ideas, both professions are highly innovative. IP attorneys are frequently tasked with protecting inventions, trade marks, or design rights across numerous industries worldwide.
This involves working with engineers who are working at the forefront of cutting-edge technology and design, to advance industry understanding and support progression among industries globally.
With both professions dedicating themselves to progressing the same innovative aims, it’s entirely understandable that many engineering graduates find themselves exploring careers in intellectual property.
That was certainly the case for Henry Bissell, an Electronic Engineering graduate who joined intellectual property firm Wynne-Jones IP’s training academy in 2017.
The University of York graduate signed up for the four-year in-house scheme with the aim of qualifying as a patent attorney. When it came to choosing his career path, Henry said the choice was inevitable:
“For myself, and I’m sure many of my colleagues, I wanted to a career that let me use my degree every day, while also not heading down a traditional engineering route.
“I think the assumption for many STEM graduates is that they will naturally end up in the fields of academia or research as a result of their degree, however a career in intellectual property is worth considering, as it offers you a chance to still use your skills, while also diversifying your knowledge and building on your expertise.
“I have always been interested in a career in law, but found from a young age that science was my strong suit. When I learned of the patent attorney profession, I was immediately drawn to it as a perfect compromise between the two, and I’m proven right on a daily basis.”
Just like Henry, many STEM graduates have discovered that a career in IP enables them to utilise the abilities they develop through their degree.
Alongside being innovative and highlighting their problem-solving skills, a career in IP also enables graduates to display their technical knowledge and unique understanding of the industry.
Intellectual property is usually employed at the inception of product creation across various industries, such as pharmaceutical, medical, and aerospace.
Due to its diverse nature attorneys must be confident in offering advice in a range of situations, and it is vital that they are able to ask the right questions, as this will enable them to offer the greatest level of protection for the client going forwards.
As IP requires a certain degree of foresight, it is essential that attorneys are able to think ahead, and ask their clients the right questions to help protect their product against industry changes and challenges going for decades to come
Finally, both professions are heavily reliant on the ability to communicate, and communicate well. For IP attorneys it is crucial that they are confident in communicating effectively with people at all levels of business, and at all stages of product development, to ensure the invention is afforded the maximum level of legal protection.
Communication will again come naturally to engineering graduates, who will be confident in their ability to ask questions throughout a project’s development process, to ensure they reach the most successful outcome.
For those who are still unsure of IP is for them, trainee patent attorney Henry offers some final words of advice, adding: “I would urge any engineering graduates looking to pursue a rewarding and interesting career, which still draws on their degree and skills, to consider intellectual property.”