• Name: Gemma Seabright
  • Job Title: Attorney
  • Location: London
  • University: Oxford
  • Degree: DPhil in Biochemistry
  • Areas of Specialism: Chemistry

Why did you choose a job in this sector/profession?

I wanted a job where I could use the technical knowledge I had gathered from my degrees and continue to learn about science, however I no longer wanted to be in research. Throughout my PhD, my supervisor frequently told me that they thought a career as a patent attorney would suit me. I eventually took the hint and started researching the profession seriously in my third year. I soon realised that the patent profession would allow me to learn about exciting new developments across a number of different areas of biotechnology, and I thought I would be well suited to the nature of the work, which involves understanding new technology and communicating it clearly and concisely.

Is it a 9-5 job?

For the most part. There are many deadlines in this profession, however most of them are long and work can be planned accordingly. The team is organised and supportive, and my supervisors frequently check that I am coping with my workload. When working from home, I find I often log in earlier than 9, but rarely work past 5:30. Of course, there will inevitably be busier periods or last minute instructions. Since joining D Young & Co, I have only worked a handful of very late nights.

However, there are many exams to pass on the way to qualification and studying for these definitely goes beyond 9 to 5. Be prepared to dedicate evenings, weekends and/or annual leave to studying for exams.

What was the application process like – any advice?

I applied to many different firms and received a few interview offers. I would recommend sending speculative applications in addition to responding to advertised vacancies, as I would often hear back from firms as new vacancies came up.

After an initial phone interview for D Young & Co, I was invited to come into the office. The interview was conducted in three parts. First, I was given twenty minutes to read and digest some information (in the form of a client letter) before discussing it with one of the partners. I really enjoyed the task and felt very relaxed in this part of the interview. The second part focused more on my technical knowledge. I gave a short presentation to some other members of the team, and was asked to identify some structures. I didn’t know them all but answered as best I could. Lastly, there was an informal discussion with some of the trainees.

My advice to someone seeking to enter the profession would be not to be disheartened by rejections along the way. In the end, I received one offer – however from my experience at interview with other firms I believe that D Young & Co was the right fit for me.

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