• Name: Kate Selwyn
  • Job Title: Trainee Patent Attorney
  • Location: London
  • University: Durham
  • Degree: Kate gained a BSc in Cell Biology at Durham University. Kate also gained a MSc in Stem Cell Technology from the University of Nottingham.
  • Areas of Specialism: Life Sciences

Why I chose to become a patent attorney

I first became aware of the world of intellectual property whilst completing a Business Enterprise module during my undergraduate degree at Durham University. When I finished my undergraduate degree, I still wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, so I went on to complete an MSc in Stem Cell Technology at the University of Nottingham.  This allowed me to gain further insight into the commercialization of scientific inventions.

It became clear that I wanted a career that required my scientific background, but I didn’t feel that the lab was the right environment for me.  I became fascinated with the multidisciplinary world of patents which combines science with business and law.  Whilst researching the career path as a patent attorney, it became clear that it was a diverse and progressive career with rewarding benefits which would use my scientific knowledge.

I joined Forresters as a trainee patent attorney in the Life Sciences and Chemistry team 2 years ago.

My typical working day

Although my typical day is as varied as the technologies I work with, most days start by  dealing with emails, some of which are received overnight.  A lot of our clients are based in the USA and so work on a different time-zone to us.    I will then check my upcoming deadlines and send out any necessary reminders.  After that, most of my day is spent working on cases, reviewing prior art and trying to think of ways to overcome objections from the patent office.  I work closely with a supervising partner or senior associate who are always on hand to provide guidance and check over my work.

One of the biggest challenges I’ve found of being a patent attorney; you need to be on top of your work and organised enough to be able to push your plans for the day aside and take on an urgent case if necessary.

I will soon start preparing for my next round of exams, which begins with a residential training course.  Having passed my first set of UK foundation exams, I feel confident that this is the right career path for me. In October this year, I will sit the remaining UK Foundation exams, before starting to sit the European exams next year.

Why I am pleased I chose Forresters

Forresters is a leading intellectual property law firm.  We have a broad range of clients, ranging from multinational companies to individual inventors.  From day one, I worked with my supervising partner on real cases.  This has involved working on cases pursuing patent protection in the UK and Europe, as well as in Russia, India, Australia and the US (to name a few).  At present, the technology I’m involved with ranges from medical devices to laundry detergents to vaccines!

Forresters provides invaluable support for exams.  We attend residential training courses and the partners support our training in-house by going through past papers, or setting daily “questions of the day” in the run up to our exams. There are a number of trainees within the firm, all at different stages of qualification.  This means there is always someone on hand to provide advice regarding the exams or training process.

Forresters has an extremely high retention rate for qualified patent and trade mark attorneys.  Many of the current partners started their careers as a trainee at Forresters, which demonstrates the high job satisfaction within our firm.

Forresters provides a friendly and relaxed working environment with regular social events, such as the company day out. Some of the events I’ve joined in with in London include summer softball matches with other intellectual property firms and pub quizzes.  We even enter a Forresters team into a triathlon in Winchester.  Forresters also encourage their trainees to participate in the IP community outside of work, such as attending (and optionally helping to organise) the annual charity black tie IP Ball and the regular Chartered Institute of Patent Attorney (CIPA) social events.

Two years on, I’ve really enjoyed my training so far.  Although it is a steep learning curve getting to know the legal aspects of patent law, it’s an incredibly interesting and rewarding job which puts you at the forefront of your technical field.  If you have the motivation to study while putting this into practice in the office, I would recommend that you follow this career path!

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