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  • Name: Adam Ellwood
  • Job Title: Trainee Patent Attorney
  • Location: London
  • University: UCL
  • Degree: PhD Organic Chemistry

I studied chemistry at University College London and graduated in 2007. I then went on to complete a PhD at the same institute. Following this I trained as an actuary for 18 months before joining Elkington and Fife as a trainee patent attorney in April 2012.

The patent attorney profession is small and unknown by most, but it is the perfect profession for someone with a scientific background who has an interest in new technology and its application in the real world.

Training at Elkington and Fife starts from day one and no two days are the same. The work here includes writing letters, reporting and responding to official communications issued from patent offices around the world, national litigation, opinion work, prior art searches, assignments, oppositions and appeals. Working at Elkington and Fife is certainly never boring. The subject-matter varies and can range from high value pharmaceutical compounds to propellant mixtures which are used in recreational gas-powered guns! In addition, we represent a diverse range of clients, which keeps things interesting.

Elkington and Fife pay for trainees to attend the Queen Mary Certificate in IP, which provides an exemption from the UK foundation examinations and I passed this at the start of 2013. The course is intensive and it lasts for three months. It provides a good grounding for the rest of your career and also has a social aspect by providing the opportunity to meet other trainees.

If you are going to be successful as a trainee patent attorney you must (of course) be academically able. However, you must be much more than that. You have to be resilient, focused and hard working. You must also want to be challenged on a daily basis and have the willingness to learn in order to be retrained in law. Your grammar and literacy skills must be up to scratch and you will need to be sociable in order to interact with clients and colleagues.

I have found that the level of client contact and responsibility at Elkington and Fife increases with experience. The team at Elkington and Fife is helpful and supportive and there is always someone available to ask for advice.

A career as a patent attorney is not for everyone, but for the right person it is highly challenging, rewarding and stimulating. If you’re considering it, I highly recommend that you join Elkington and Fife.

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