• Name: Dan Sizer
  • Job Title: Partner
  • Location: London
  • University: Cambridge
  • Degree: Master of Engineering (MEng), Mechanical Engineering
  • Areas of Specialism: Mechanical Engineering

Why did you choose a job in this profession?

Like a lot of people in the profession, I really enjoyed studying science at school and university and wanted to continue to learning about technology after leaving university; however, I realised that working as a scientist or engineer wasn’t for me.  Once I found out about the profession through my University’s careers service it seemed like the perfect choice – I could continue to learn about technology but I wouldn’t be tied to a lab bench or test rig.  I always enjoyed finding out how things work and being a patent attorney means I get to enjoy learning about how other people’s inventions work on a daily basis.

Learning about the law as also a draw for me.  Before starting in the profession, I thought I would enjoy the challenge of preparing arguments on legal points and – luckily for me – I do.  It is challenging but rewarding to have to combine scientific and legal knowledge to help your clients.

What are your main duties/roles?

My primary responsibilities are to the firm, and to look after my clients and do my best for them, but I am lucky to have a number of other duties.  This means I have quite a lot of variety in my role, which I enjoy.  My main additional responsibility is to oversee our in-house Training Academy.  At Marks & Clerk we have the most successful and in-depth in-house training programme.  I am responsible for working with our training managers to make sure it runs smoothly and is constantly improving.  This is a very enjoyable part of my role as it means I get to work very closely with our training team and the trainees within the firm.  It is very satisfying to see trainees do really well in their professional exams and develop as attorneys.

Some of my other roles include being part of various teams and leadership committees responsible for a number of ongoing projects within the firm, looking at things from business development to internal systems.

Is it a 9-5 job?

My firm is very accommodating when it comes to working arrangements, but generally it is not a 9 to 5 job.

As a trainee, you need to prepare for your exams while also helping look after clients.  It is therefore necessary to do some revision and exam preparation outside of the 9 to 5.  As you become more senior within the profession, you will have greater responsibility for your clients and this often necessitates working outside of the 9 to 5 if they are based in different time zones or during particularly busy periods.  Partners and more senior attorneys will also often have additional management or business development responsibilities, which often cannot be completed within the 9 to 5.

Having said that, you should normally be able to manage your workload to accommodate outside commitments.  I schedule my day so that I can pick my daughter up from nursery several times a week and meet friends.  Lots of my colleagues are very active in outside clubs and societies and can manage their work around this, so there is lots of scope for having a very full life outside of work.

What skills are useful in this sector/profession?

Scientific knowledge is largely a given within the profession, but one of the key skills that many applicants overlook is communication.  We work very closely with a lot of different roles within a business – from inventors, to patent attorneys, to CEOs and business owners.  Often we are discussing quite complicated scientific concepts with all of these people.  It is important to be able to communicate very clearly and concisely, and to tailor the message to the audience.  I think it is one of the most important, and also most challenging, aspects of the job and it is something that many science students do not have much experience of before applying for a job.

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