• Name: Kealan Fallon
  • Job Title: Trainee Patent Attorney
  • Location: Cambridge
  • University: UCL
  • Degree: Chemistry
  • Areas of Specialism: Chemistry

How did you get your job at Appleyard Lees?

I was ready for a career change outside of the “normal” annual recruitment window that most IP firms stick to, and so I approached many firms as a speculative hire. Having done a PhD in Chemistry followed by pivoting into a postdoc in the electronics/engineering fields, I wasn’t a typical (if there is such a thing) applicant straight out of a degree programme. Appleyard Lees was excited by my interdisciplinary experience and invited me to interview across two of their teams. During my interview days it particularly struck me how positive, welcoming, and happy the community was at Appleyard Lees – I could tell people really enjoyed working here. It was helpful to meet several other attorneys at the firm who had also moved into IP after a postdoc, and it was fantastic opportunity to hear their stories and receive their advice. I was absolutely thrilled to get an offer to join the firm.

What is it like working at Appleyard Lees?

I’m fortunate that I get to work across the Chemistry and Electronics teams putting my interdisciplinary background to good use. I wasn’t quite prepared for how varied the workload would be – in the four months since starting I’ve worked on drafting, oppositions, and prosecution, and worked on cases pending in the UK, Europe, US, Canada, and Japan! The training is very much on-the-job with a mixture of study groups and organised courses throughout the year. The culture at Appleyard Lees is open and supportive, so I have no hesitation approaching attorneys outside my immediate teams for help if needed. Appleyard Lees also has four offices and encourages travelling between them to stay well connected with the wider community, which is a nice job perk.

What skills are useful in this sector/profession?

The commonly discussed skills are communication (written and oral), an eye for detail, time management, and a passion for science and technology. I think some lesser discussed but crucial skills for a trainee is having a positive attitude toward challenging work, showing resilience in the face of rejection (of your arguments from patent offices), and recognising learning opportunities in any mistakes. You’ll be working on real cases from day one, and it’s a steep learning curve – you’ll probably feel like you’ve been thrown in the deep end. But your Partner, Senior Associate, and support team will give you excellent feedback, training, and help.

Do you have any advice for anyone wanting to enter the profession?

Appleyard Lees has a trainee blog which offers great insights into what the trainees get up to in our firm. We also run a “Greenshoots” podcast that covers all sorts of topics to do with IP, including getting into the profession. I highly recommend looking at those two resources.

IP Futures is a community within the wider IP Inclusive community which offers networking and support for early career professionals within IP and hold loads of events, many of which are also open to people outside IP looking to join the profession. I would recommend checking out if there are any upcoming IP Futures events that appeal to you and go along!

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