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  • Name: Sarah Phillips
  • Job Title: Trainee Patent Attorney
  • Location: Bath
  • University: Cambridge
  • Degree: BA Natural Sciences

Initially after graduating I worked for an engineering consultancy, and was seconded to the reactor physics/engineering team at Oldbury Power Station. I realised that engineering wasn’t for me, and looked for other options. I moved to the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (initially as a temporary stop-gap, although I stayed five years) and learned, at least from a public policy perspective, how IP can incentivise R&D and facilitate knowledge transfer in the community.

I joined A&I’s Physics, Engineering and ICT team in Bath, in 2015. The things that I value most about the job are being continuously challenged to learn and understand new technologies across a wide range of subject matter, having the opportunity to carefully craft written documents, thus combining my interests in language and science, and engaging with all kinds of people, from independent inventors to CEOs of large companies.

The training process combines a mixture of on-the-job learning and study for exams. In October this year, I will sit the UK qualifying exams, with the European exams to follow in 2018 and 2019. Qualifying fully as a UK and European patent attorney typically takes around five years, but the exams are spaced within this period. The firm supports trainees by providing in-house tutorials and study-leave for formal training courses.

My work is supervised by several of the Partners, which helps me to appreciate different styles and specialisms. There is a focus on client care and a personal approach, and I have enjoyed sitting in on meetings from the start. There is a slow and gradual transfer of responsibility from supervisor to trainee for case management throughout the training process, with plenty of support and encouragement from the team. Trainees are encouraged to assume responsibility for case management as a whole, helping to build the “bigger picture” through the full life-cycle of the patenting process.

The firm is small/medium sized, with travel between the offices in Bath, Cardiff and London encouraged. The firm comes together for annual social events, for example this year we enjoyed a Thames cruise with dinner and drinks, whilst last year we spent an evening at the Tower of London. Less formally, attorneys gather for lunch together on a Friday, enjoy surf and walking weekends, and sporting events such as the Velothon Wales.


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