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  • Name: Paul Dunne
  • Job Title: Trainee Patent Attorney
  • Location: Various
  • University: Cambridge
  • Degree: PhD Biophysical Chemistry

As with many patent attorneys, I started looking into the profession part way through a PhD having realised that an academic career no longer appealed to me. My interest had been sparked by a friend at Mewburn Ellis who spoke enthusiastically about the job and the firm and suggested that I attend one of Mewburn Ellis’ open days.

The open day I attended gave me an excellent introduction to the practical aspects of the job, and presented the opportunity to speak to people at all levels of the firm, from new trainees to partners. I was impressed by the way that the firm actively sought to engage with potential trainees and was struck by the friendliness of everyone I met. Having attended the open day, I applied to lots of firms and was lucky enough to be offered training positions at Mewburn Ellis and another firm. I decided to accept the position at Mewburn Ellis based on my positive experiences, and started work in September 2010.

The majority of learning in the initial stages was through doing the job. From the start, I was responsible for working on real cases across a diverse range of scientific areas, carrying out a variety of tasks and corresponding directly with clients. Although the work often appeared daunting at first, the work was chosen to suit my level of ability and people were always happy to offer guidance and patiently provide feedback.

The majority of my work came from the partner who I was initially placed with, but other partners passed on any work that they thought was appropriate, particularly work writing new patent applications.

I’ve found one of the best things about being a trainee at Mewburn Ellis is the quality of its in-house training. The firm provide regular tutorial sessions, to help develop practical skills such as how to write a patent application, as well as lectures, for example on a specific area of law. These are run by the most experienced partners in the firm and provide an excellent way of learning.

Another aspect of being a trainee at Mewburn Ellis which I enjoy is the fact that trainees move every six months to work with different partners for the first few years of training. This exposes you to a range of working styles, as well as different types of technologies and clients. This mixture of influences and experience helps to select and shape your own working style. Since the moves between partners often involves moving between the firm’s London, Bristol, Cambridge and Manchester offices, the system also provides an excellent opportunity to meet people across the firm and to live in some exciting cities.

A career as a patent attorney provides an excellent mixture of science, law and business. It gives you a greater understanding of the way things work: from the science behind a new product to the commercial considerations that go into the sale of that product. I’d thoroughly recommend it as a career choice and wish you the best of luck with your application!

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