• Name: Maeve McCrossan
  • Job Title: Trainee Patent Attorney
  • Location: Edinburgh
  • University: Warwick
  • Degree: MPhys

What skills are useful in this profession?

A patent attorney needs to be able to quickly pick up new concepts and ideas across a wide range of fields and understand them to a high level. Attention to detail is key, as well as being able to clearly articulate arguments and ideas, both to clients and in official communications. Having a creative mind and the ability to think outside the box are also valuable skills for both drafting patent applications and responding to examination reports.

What are your main duties?

Every day is different, and you will likely be handling a large number of cases in a variety of technological fields, each of which may be at a different stage in the application process. On any one day I may find myself: meeting with a client to discuss a new invention, drafting a new patent application, responding to client queries via email, forming arguments in response to an examination report, meeting with a client to discuss future strategies, putting together an opposition, or attending a networking event.

Is it a 9-5 job?

In terms of the job itself, the answer will likely depend on the firm, but at Hindles we have quite a flexible work culture with a flexitime model for work hours. This means that if, for example, you find yourself wanting to stay late to finish up work on a case, you can take back those hours at a later date, which allows you to maintain a healthy work-life balance. Outside of the job itself, as a trainee, you will likely be dedicating many evenings to studying in the run-up to exams. With two exam periods, one for the UK exams and one for the European exams, each roughly half a year apart, it is important to find a balance that allows you to work and study while still retaining a healthy personal life.

Do you have any advice for anyone wanting to enter the profession?

Don’t be discouraged if you don’t get a job offer straight away. This is a highly competitive sector, and there are limited job opportunities available for new trainees. Keep trying! Once your foot is in the door, you will have access to so many more opportunities. When applying, make sure there are no errors in your cover letter or CV—attention to detail and excellent written communication skills are imperative for this job, after all. Good luck!

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