I joined Potter Clarkson as a new trainee almost five years ago from a post in medical research. It can be quite daunting starting in the profession, particularly when you think about the number of exams to pass, and the practical knowledge you need to actually do the job and advise clients.
Potter Clarkson provides a good environment to learn what’s needed, and the training I’ve had has been excellent from the start. I’ve found the more formal parts of the training here to be well-structured. Tutorials covering all the areas of law and practice tested in the exams are run each year by partners and senior associates, each of whom have sat the exams and know what’s needed. External seminars and residential revision courses are also offered, and I’ve been on quite a few over the years.
Another thing that helps is the large number of trainees at the firm, at all different levels. That has been a big plus because there are always people at the same level to study with, and more senior people happy to share tips and notes on future exams. For me though, it’s been the day-to-day training that has made Potter Clarkson such a great place to qualify and work as a patent attorney.
From virtually my first day, I worked on real cases and met important clients – all under the supervision of a partner. That client contact builds up a relationship with people at an early stage so that, before long, clients are happy to deal with you directly.
That said, I’ve never felt like I was left to handle tricky issues alone, and help is always around when needed. The patents group is organised into technical specialisms with smaller client teams that are familiar with particular clients. This means there is always someone to speak to about a case. As a whole, the firm has very much an open-door policy, so I’ve always been able to see my supervising partner, or a knowledgeable associate or fellow trainee. There are also specialised departments managing client records, accounts, IT, and formalities, who are always ready to help out with questions that are not directly related to patent law.
What makes the day-to-day training here so valuable is the variety of work. Although latterly I have focussed on my biotech specialism, I’ve worked on inventions in a range of different technical areas (from chemical processes, medical devices, enzyme formulations and textile manufacture) and in many areas of patent law, including prosecution in countries all over the world and liaising with IP solicitors when clients need to enforce or challenge IP rights.
Partners and senior associates at the firm regularly represent clients in patent opposition proceedings at the European Patent Office in Munich, avnd I’ve been actively involved in major patent cases, including detailed preparation for and attendance of oral proceedings before the EPO Boards of Appeal.
No two days are the same, and the variety of cases has kept things interesting and ensured that there are always new issues to learn from. With the combination of day-to-day work and exam-training, Potter Clarkson has been a supportive place for me to qualify as a Patent Attorney and an enjoyable place to work.