I graduated with a master’s degree in physics knowing that academia wasn’t for me. The heavy focus on a single research topic just didn’t suit my desire for highly varied work. Therefore, when I was introduced to the career of a patent attorney through a friend who had just started in the job, I was immediately interested. A role where I could apply the technical knowledge I had gained over my degree to a wide variety of real life problems seemed to be the perfect balance I was looking for. I started at D Young & Co in October 2020 and have been very happy with my decision.
How did you get your job at D Young & Co?
I joined D Young & Co through the internship program. I wanted to make sure the role was suited to me before committing to a full job search. However, the size of the patent attorney profession is quite small, so it was difficult to really learn about the job without trying it out for myself.
I started by attending the three-day Easter internship in 2019. This offered a chance to learn about the career with no assumed knowledge, meet current trainees and attorneys in casual social settings, and take part in the sorts of activities performed by a patent attorney (such as drafting and amendment). Whilst relatively short, there was a lot of information packed into the three days, and by the end of the internship, I had a much better insight into the role of a patent attorney.
I was invited back to spend a further three weeks at D Young & Co in the summer of 2019. This was an entirely different experience from the Easter internship, as I was given the opportunity to work on real cases. Since starting as a trainee, I have realised that the time spent on the summer internship was very similar to the role of a new trainee. By the end of these three weeks, I knew that the role was right for me, and I was fortunate to be offered a position based on my performance on the internship.
What was the application process like – any advice?
It was very straightforward to apply to the Easter internship. I submitted a CV and cover letter, and was invited for a 15 minute telephone interview. During the telephone interview, I was asked about my knowledge of the job and D Young & Co, and was also asked a few technical questions. After the telephone interview, I was invited to attend the Easter internship.
The telephone interview is mainly to screen out applicants who are not as serious about the internship. As long as you can demonstrate that you have carried out some research about the firm, the roles carried out by a patent attorney, and the qualification process for a patent attorney, then this should not be an issue. The technical questions probe your ability to describe technologies in a simple way, identifying key points and explaining them clearly, providing an opportunity to show off your strong technical background.
What are your main duties/roles?
From day one, I have been very involved in prosecuting patents. This involves writing to patent offices (the EPO and UK IPO) as well as foreign attorneys, making arguments for why a patent should be granted. In some cases, this also involves finding suitable ways to amend a patent application, so that it can be granted, in ways that provide the greatest level of protection to the client.
I also regularly draft new patent applications. This involves meeting with inventors to discuss their ideas, identifying the key inventive concepts, and writing a patent application to protect their ideas as broadly as possible, whilst meeting the legal requirements for a patent.
I will usually work on several new inventions each week, meaning that I come across a huge range of technologies.
In summary, a career as a patent attorney provides an ideal way to use your technical knowledge whilst working on a wide variety of different topics. An internship is a great way to learn about the profession and might also be a way to secure a graduate role.