• Name: Tomos Thomas
  • Job Title: Trainee Patent Attorney
  • Location: London
  • University: Imperial
  • Degree: PhD Physics
  • Areas of Specialism: Physics

Why I chose to become a patent attorney
I haven’t always wanted to be a patent attorney. Growing up I loved science and computers, but I had such limited knowledge of possible STEM careers that I wasn’t even sure whether or not I should go to university. I went to study physics as it was my strongest subject and enjoyed it so much that I ended up doing a PhD. During my PhD studies, I came across patent documents and found them fascinating. I then worked as a satellite engineer for a couple of years, which was great, but I wanted more variety and to do something that was technology-based but with a more prominent commercial aspect. Remembering the patent documents I had read, I looked into the job of patent attorney, and the more information I found, the more appealing it seemed. I spoke to a couple of people I knew from university who had joined the profession, and they talked about the necessary attention to detail required for the job and having to study again – and these are things I like, so this career really appealed to me! I decided to go for it and haven’t looked back since.

Why I chose to join Kilburn & Strode
Coming from a medium-sized engineering firm, I wanted to join a relatively larger IP firm. Visiting the Kilburn & Strode office during the application process I got the impression of a lively and exciting firm, and I was impressed by their approach to corporate social responsibility, modern ethos, and employee benefits. One aspect that particularly appealed to me was that I would be joining a cohort of new trainees that would all start at the same time at the same office. That definitely helped me to integrate quickly into the firm and it’s been fun settling in together.

What’s it like working at Kilburn & Strode
There’s so much going on at Kilburn & Strode. My day-to-day work is very varied. Among the topics I’ve worked on are telecommunications, cloud computing, medical devices, and fintech. The stage within the patent lifecycle of each piece of work varies too, and I’ve already gained a broad experience and been given plenty of responsibility. The work environment is very professional while still being relaxed and friendly. Similarly, the firm has adopted a modern and inclusive outlook. For example, there are plenty of social activities and also an awareness that drinking based socials are not for everyone and shouldn’t be the only way we can socialise. There’s also plenty of things to get involved in besides work – recently I’ve played 5-a-side football and had lunchtime Italian lessons.

In terms of training, most of the time I work for a single senior attorney, who is a great mentor, but I am also learning different approaches from working with others. I’m pushed to produce work of a high standard and that’s definitely helping me to progress quickly. Trainees at Kilburn & Strode have the opportunity to get involved with all aspects of the business, ranging from prosecuting patent applications, to developing relationships with clients, to attending meetings with policy makers. Through this exposure to a wide variety of tasks and situations, trainees quickly develop essential skills.

My advice for anyone applying for trainee attorney positions
From the outside, trying to get into this profession can seem daunting, but it’s worthwhile. My impression is that firms vary a lot, and that the trainee experience varies accordingly, so do your research beforehand. Even if you’re not totally convinced that this is the profession for you, you may find that a particular firm or interview tilts the balance one way or the other. It’s a big commitment, so making that extra effort will pay off.

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