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  • Name: Matthew Bennett
  • Job Title: Trainee Patent Attorney - Electronics and Software
  • Location: Halifax
  • University: Imperial
  • Degree: PhD Plasma Physics
  • Career Sectors: Patents

What made you decide to become a Patent Attorney?

After finishing my PhD I decided I wanted career stability that could not be achieved as an academic.

Like many scientists, I had learned how to code and therefore my first foray into the job market was as a software developer. I mention this because it’s important to know that you can become a patent attorney at any stage in your career, so don’t think you don’t have a chance because initially you chose a different career path or did another post-doc or two. I would even say it is beneficial to have industry experience before becoming an attorney as you will have a better appreciation for how businesses operate.

Ultimately however I wanted to work with new and exciting technology and put more of my scientific skills to use. I also wanted to work on a range of technology and not be limited on where I could work. Therefore patent law seemed like the ideal career.

What’s it like to work at Appleyard Lees?

Appleyard Lees is an excellent firm to work at and one which trainees rarely leave before they’ve completed their training, which I think speaks volumes about the friendly nature of the firm. As a patent attorney you will be working on tasks on your own but you will always work in close proximity to other trainees and experienced attorneys; so help is never far away and you will never feel abandoned. It’s a great mix of working independently to build your knowledge and experience, whilst also having access to specialist guidance and support from experts.

With regards to examinations, you will mostly be left to your own devices so you need to have the motivation for self-study. Also, Appleyard Lees is a little different to most firms in that you will be expected to sit the UK foundation exams rather than attend a foundation qualifying course.

Any advice for new applicants?

To my fellow PhD’s: it may seem difficult to give up the field you’ve spent 3-4 years in but really you don’t have to. If there is a particular technology you want to work with you can find out which firms represent certain clients you’re interested in, or indeed work ‘in-house’. Even if you come from a very niche field, like myself, there is nothing stopping you maintaining your interest and staying a specialist in your field; who knows, the people you met and worked with during your PhD could end up being your future clients.


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