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  • Name: Kate Voller
  • Job Title: Trainee (Part-Qualified) Patent Attorney
  • Location: London
  • University: Durham
  • Degree: MPhys Physics and MPhil in Theoretical Cosmology

My job as a trainee patent attorney at Cleveland Scott York is demanding, interesting and fun. I get to experience the latest technology in a variety of physics-related fields and watch businesses grow as they take their new products to market.

The training is hands on and personal, as I work directly with several partners and senior associates of the firm. I get to experience anything and everything patent-related, including exposure to a variety of UK, European, and worldwide (including US and Japanese) patent work. This leads to great training with a very varied workload, each day being different.

I may be meeting with new clients to discuss potential inventions, writing letters arguing for a client’s invention, managing clients’ patent portfolios, or preparing for oral proceedings. The varied, hands-on style of training also provides a great grounding for the exams which I will have to sit over the next few years.

I hadn’t originally set my sights on become a patent attorney, but during the third year of my PhD I started to realise that a life in academia wasn’t for me. Whilst I enjoyed the technical side of things, I started to feel like to I was becoming ever more detached from the real world. The idea of becoming so specialised in one niche area of astrophysics felt a bit restrictive. I wanted a career that would allow me to use my physics background whilst doing real world, commercially relevant things.

After attending a careers fair, I met a number of other ex-PhD students who had been in positions similar to mine and gone on to pursue careers as patent attorneys, so I thought I would do some more research.

I did some work experience, firstly with a small firm and then with a much larger firm. This helped me decide what I was looking for in terms of training and office lifestyle, and ultimately lead me to Cleveland Scott York.

Cleveland Scott York encourages a good work/life balance. We are not encouraged to take work home and rarely work long hours (there are always exceptions!). Outside of work, everyone is sociable with regular meetups and events throughout the year.

My advice for anyone considering a career as a patent attorney is to research different firms and find out what suits you. Qualification requires hard work and commitment, so it is important that their style of training suits your style of learning.

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