• Name: Harry O’Brien
  • Job Title: Part-Qualified Patent Attorney
  • Location: London
  • University: Liverpool
  • Degree: MChem Chemistry at Liverpool
    PhD Homogeneous Catalysis at Bristol
  • Areas of Specialism: Chemistry

Why did you choose a job in this profession?

As I approached the completion of my PhD, I realised that I did not want to pursue a career as a researcher in academia or industry. However, I knew that I still wanted a career which made use of my academic background. Having spoken to friends entering the profession, patent law really appealed to me as I would have the opportunity to work with cutting-edge technologies whilst also focusing on the commercial context.

How did you get your job at Beck Greener?

I was applying for a couple of advertised training roles at other firms and during this time I came across Beck Greener’s website. I liked the look of the firm but saw that there were no training roles being advertised at the time, so I decided to send a speculative application. Sometime later I received an email asking me if I’d like to attend an interview. I jumped at the opportunity and was asked to complete a pre-interview assessment, which involved describing how an everyday object worked. I then did my first interview with two partners from the firm, where we also discussed my assessment. Following my first interview I was invited to attend a second interview, where I met more partners from the firm and a trainee. Shortly afterwards, I received a job offer.

What are your main duties/roles?

My work is quite varied, covering all aspects of a patent attorney’s role. Initially I started with prosecution work, where current patent applications are searched and examined at Patent Offices and my job is to construct arguments against any objections from examiners to get the applications through to grant. Soon I was given opportunities to draft new patent applications and get involved with opposition work, which involves opposing a granted patent. As you progress, you start having to balance the different cases you are working on, so there’s plenty of variety. A normal day at the office could see me prosecuting an application relating to semiconductor manufacture in the morning and drafting an application for a new medical device in the afternoon.

What would you like to achieve in the future?

My immediate aim is to qualify as a UK and European Patent Attorney. I recently sat the European Qualifying Exams (still awaiting the results!) and I will sit my remaining UK qualifying exams this October.

I received a PG Certificate in IP from Bournemouth University in early 2020 giving exemption from the UK foundation exams and I have passed the European pre-examination. Thankfully, I am given a large amount of support to prepare for exams in the form of day-to-day training, in-house tutorials and offers to attend external courses.

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

A good cover letter is essential, as it demonstrates your writing ability, a skill that is integral to the job. In interviews, you will likely be asked to describe an everyday object in a clear and concise way, so make sure you practise this beforehand. You should also try comparing similar objects and identifying key differences, explaining their advantages and disadvantages.

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