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  • Name: Dominic O'Connor
  • Job Title: Trainee Patent Attorney
  • Location: London
  • University: Bristol
  • Degree: MEng

Why I chose the profession

I began my career working in engineering in the defence aerospace industry, and then in the oil and gas industry. Although these experiences were useful in many ways I wanted to try something different while keeping a technical aspect to my work. I had the idea of becoming a patent attorney while reading a careers guide at university. The job seemed to involve the type of work I thought I would enjoy and I thought the job would suit me well. I liked the idea of working at the forefront of technology in many different scientific fields, while helping inventors make the most of their inventions.


All trainees are assigned a mentor who will provide the trainee with work and oversee his or her career development. Trainees are usually enrolled on the Certificate in Intellectual Property Law at Queen Mary, University of London although this practice varies between the offices. The course is full time for three months and covers all areas of IP Law, including Patents, Trade Marks, Copyright, Designs and Competition Law.

Trainees are encouraged to attend in-house training seminars run by partners of the firm which will discuss, for example, new case-law developments or finals exam questions. Trainees are also encouraged to attend lectures organised by the Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys (CIPA) and also external training courses for practice before the European Patent Office.

The job

The involves using many different types of work but the bread and butter of the job is the prosecution of patent applications before national or regional patent offices. This will involve using your technical and legal knowledge, and being able to convey to the examiner the merits of your client’s invention.

The law is new to everyone who joins the profession and so it is important to be able to learn this, and useful to have an interest in the law.

Why Marks & Clerk?

Being one of the larger firms in the profession has many advantages. For example, the training Academy for new trainees was an extremely useful way of experiencing a wide range of tasks and work which otherwise might not have been available. The in-house seminars and discussion groups make good use of the large pool of qualified attorneys available. With many offices in the UK and overseas there are opportunities to work elsewhere in the firm as part of my career development.

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