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  • Name: Greg Dykes
  • Job Title: Trainee Patent Attorney
  • Location: London
  • University: Bristol
  • Degree: MEng Mechanical Engineering

I joined AAT in November 2012 after graduating that year. I’d decided at university that I didn’t want to go into hard engineering but, as with many trainees, I didn’t want to completely abandon my roots as an engineer. My key piece of advice on getting into the industry is that you should make sure you are committed to becoming a patent attorney – interviewers will quickly tell if you aren’t fully aware of what your future career entails, so read this guide thoroughly!

The job itself is interesting and rewarding. I have been exposed to a wide range of technology and legal issues and have also been given a satisfying level of autonomy in my work and regular client contact. As a trainee here, you will be pushed out of your comfort zone on a regular basis, but this is balanced with good support from your line manager and colleagues. In this regard, there are three key figures in your working life at AAT: your buddy (who you ask the embarrassing questions), your mentor (an attorney significantly more experienced who can provide more in-depth advice), and your line manager (who is a partner of the firm and has the final sign-off on your work). I have found this range of experience in my support team very useful, as no matter what the issue, you always have someone to ask. In terms of my development, I’ve been encouraged to move at my own pace. In my first appraisal, my line manager asked when I saw myself being fully qualified, and has since been supportive of my choice to get on with sitting the exams quickly. That said, if you prefer to take your time, there is no pressure to race through to qualification.

Training and support is available in many forms here; a group of attorneys and trainees run regular tutorials on European and UK exam questions and we have bi-monthly meetings attended by every Patent Fee-Earner to discuss case law or interesting developments on real-life cases handled by our firm. Socially, AAT is very active. We have at least three major events each year, and informal post-work gatherings are a weekly occurrence.

Skills-wise, you need a good scientific degree and a thirst for knowledge to succeed as a patent attorney. A penchant for accuracy, both technically and grammatically, is also a key aspect of the job — if you are the sort of person who despises an out-of-place apostrophe or you find it satisfying to pick holes in a poorly-substantiated scientific argument then a career as a patent attorney could be well suited to you.

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