• Name: Olivia Murray
  • Job Title: Patent Attorney
  • Location: Hybrid - London
  • University: Oxford
  • Degree: MChem Master of Chemistry from The University of Oxford
  • Areas of Specialism: Chemistry

Why did you choose a job in this profession?

I always knew that I wanted to work in an industry linked to science and technology. During my Chemistry Degree and Masters project, I found that I enjoyed learning about the applications of science, and communicating science to other people, but that the practical laboratory-based side of chemistry was not for me.

I was drawn to patent law as this industry would allow me to use my chemistry knowledge, continue to learn about emerging technologies and scientific advancements, whilst being desk-based. In addition, the set career progression, good work-life balance, and opportunity to gain professional qualifications appealed to me. Trainee positions are generally paid jobs that allow you to learn while you earn. Boult Wade Tennant supports their trainees through their exams, predominantly through funding exams and study materials, sending their candidates on the relevant training courses, and providing internal tutorials. Boult Wade Tennant also has several Attorneys who are, or have been, examiners for the patent exams, and can provide excellent advice on how to tackle the exams.

What are your main duties/roles?

A considerable part of my day-to-day work is handling the prosecution of many European, UK and foreign patent applications for a selection of different clients. I work with both large international clients, and smaller start-ups, who have very different needs.

I spend a lot of time reviewing objections in examination reports, any relevant prior art documents, and preparing responses to the examination reports, or instructions to foreign Patent Attorneys for responding to a foreign Examination Report. Depending on the complexity of the case, each response can take from a few hours to a few days to prepare. I am constantly moving on to new tasks that are focussed on different inventions, so I have to be very adaptable and able to quickly understand the main aspects of the technology. Some of my time spent on a case includes discussing the case with a Partner or other Attorney at Boult Wade Tennant. Throughout your training, and even afterwards, there is always somebody at Boult Wade Tennant who is happy to discuss ideas and strategies, and provide helpful advice.

I spend some of my time discussing new inventions with clients and inventors, drafting new patent applications, assisting with European oppositions and appeals, and handling the recording of assignments/transfers. I am also involved with the Charity Committee, where I help to organise and run fundraising events for our chosen charity (this year the charity is Shelter).

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

I would advise anyone looking to get into patent law to do some research on the industry, apply for open days and vacation schemes, and to speak to anybody in the profession if the opportunity is available. Doing these things will put you in a good position to then apply for a training position.

Keep your eye on trainee vacancies opening up, and start your applications early (e.g. at the beginning of your final year of university). Although a particular firm may appeal to you more than others, keep your options open and apply to any training positions in your technical area that are advertised. You can also send speculative applications to firms that aren’t actively advertising.

Getting a training position is quite competitive, but once you’ve secured a position, got some experience and perhaps are part-qualified, then it can be much easier to move to a different firm, should you wish to do so (e.g. if you find that you are particularly interested in a type of work in which another firm specialises).

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