I have always had a passion for science and technology, which is what led me to undertake a PhD in photonics and laser development. During the course of my PhD, however, I realised that I didn’t want to continue to specialise in an increasingly narrow area. Instead, I wanted a career which would allow me to engage with a wide variety of technologies. This led me to make the transition from science into patent law. I now have the opportunity to work on a broad range of technologies across a number of industries – more often than not in the same day!
There’s a good deal of overlap between the skills I developed during my degree and PhD and those required as a trainee patent attorney. My day to day work requires having the flexibility and focus to quickly get to grips with new subjects and technologies, coherently and concisely communicate often complicated concepts, and to manage my time effectively to be able to deal with the various deadlines for which I am responsible.
One aspect which is quite different, but which I have found particularly rewarding, is that along with a firm grip on the technology in question, the job requires having a sense for the commercial context of a client’s patent application and keeping in mind the needs of their business when undertaking work.
The learning curve can be steep and there is a lot of new information to take on from day one. In my experience, Carpmaels & Ransford provides fantastic support to make the somewhat intimidating transition between academia and law. I’ve received excellent supervision and on-the-job training from partners and associates. There’s a genuinely collaborative atmosphere at the firm, with someone available to provide help with issues as they arise. I also found the environment at Carpmaels to be friendly and welcoming, with a healthy amount of activity outside the office. For example, this summer I have been a member of Carpmaels & Ransford’s teams for the Three Peaks Yacht Race, the RideLondon cycle sportive and the Great City Race 5k. There are also plenty of other opportunities to socialise with colleagues, including informal drinks on the firm’s terrace, practice group outings and the annual summer and New Year parties.
As a technical assistant, I’m working towards qualification as a UK and European patent attorney. The firm supports this through a comprehensive programme of in-house seminars during the first year, which is followed by the full-time Certificate in IP Law course at Queen Mary, University of London. This support continues with advanced tutorials all the way through the various UK and European qualifying examinations.