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  • Name: Gregory St Clair Jones
  • Job Title: Trainee Patent Attorney
  • Location: London
  • University: Manchester
  • Degree: MPhys Physics with Philosophy

The patent attorney profession provides a unique opportunity for science and engineering graduates and postgraduates to use their technical backgrounds in a legal and commercial context. It exposes you to the newest innovations across a broad spectrum of technologies. On the IT and engineering side you could be working on one of the latest developments in the telecoms industry one day and on the latest bank note security features the next. On the chemistry and life sciences side you could be helping your clients protect the latest cancer therapy or a new chemical synthesis pathway.

Whereas traditionally trainees are given more routine agency type work (normally involving transcribing instructions provided by foreign attorneys) and are kept away from working directly with clients or from working on the more complex aspects of the job, trainees at GJE are given a wide variety of work and client contact right from the outset. It is not unusual for trainees to take part in client meetings in their first week and to be involved in the more challenging areas of the job as soon as the opportunity arises. The Firm recognises the importance of its trainees gaining experience in every aspect of the profession: it is of benefit to both the trainees, as the type of work they do is more varied and challenging, and to the Firm, as its trainees become better patent attorneys.

GJE’s list of clients ranges from start-ups to multinationals and includes many industry leaders, which provides trainees with broad experience. Much emphasis is placed on gaining an understanding of the commercial needs of the Firm’s clients as this is an area in which GJE prides itself. Trainees soon learn to understand clients’ differing needs and they are not held back from being exposed to and taking part in high level strategic discussions with them. Because GJE attracts work from a number of industry leaders, I often find myself working on important new technologies months before they are revealed to the public. I often notice products I have worked on in the news and indeed sometimes when wandering around London. The Firm also specifically caters for start-ups, university spin-outs and individual inventors. Trainees are often involved in working with these types of clients. In some ways this type of work is even more interesting as it gives you the opportunity to see some really innovative ideas develop and see businesses grow off the back of patent applications which you have drafted for them.

With such wide exposure to different types of work and with access to such a diverse range of clients it really is very difficult for trainees at GJE to get bored. If I need a break from working on a patent for a payment processing system, I can just shift my attention to a patent for a medical implant or a subsea oil well. Each new technology you work on gives you the opportunity to understand exactly how it works and know it well enough to argue your case with a patent examiner. As a result, I often go home each day with a new understanding of another field of technology. There is a fantastic mix of personalities and technical know-how, so it’s a great place to learn and everyone is always more than happy to lend you a hand; everyone went through the same training as you and sympathises with the steep learning curve all new trainees face. So if you are considering a career as a patent attorney and like what you’ve read so far, I would thoroughly recommend you come join us at GJE.

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