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  • Name: Adam Gilbertson
  • Job Title: Trainee Patent Attorney
  • Location: Birmingham
  • University: Imperial
  • Degree: PhD Solid State Physics

After working as a post doc for several years, the reality began to crystalize in my mind – ‘I can’t be a post doc forever’. The thought of changing career was daunting, but after meeting (informally) with a number of patent attorneys to discuss the profession I was convinced it was the right career move for me. I was sold by the idea of broadening my knowledge and skills, training for a professional qualification while still working with cutting-edge technologies, the challenge and variety of the work and of course, the long term career prospects. In short, my first year in the profession has not disappointed.

I started applying for training positions in the June. After a second interview I was delighted to be offered a training position at Barker Brettell in the September. The size of the firm, the variety of clients (varying from individual inventors and universities, to multinational corporations), their attitude to training and the location appealed. I started in the November.

As a trainee, my day to day is spent working with my supervising partner (we share an office for the first year) who provides me with a steady stream of work and who is my first port of call when I have any questions (and I have many!). However, I’ve had plenty of opportunities to work with other attorneys in the team. We have a close knit team of attorneys with varying backgrounds and degrees of experience who share their workloads and are always happy to help. This has ensured I get exposure to a wide variety of UK and European related patent work, ranging from responding to examination reports to responding to unusual client queries (which turns out to be useful for the exams!). Trainees are discouraged from taking work home with them so a good work/life balance can be maintained.

The biggest change from working in academia from my point of view is the fact that time is money. Ultimately you are providing a service that the client is paying for. The firm is a business and there is a need for efficiency that simply wasn’t there in academia. An important aspect of my training at Barker Brettell has included learning how the business works, how to talk to clients, and how to approach a task in the most efficient way.

Training as a patent attorney is hard work and challenging (as expected) – perhaps more challenging than I imagined – but it is extremely interesting and rewarding. I would recommend the profession to you – and recommend Barker Brettell as a place to start.

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