In my final year of university I decided to look for post-graduate employment. I wanted to find a job which would allow me to make use of (and further develop) the scientific and technical knowledge that I had built up over the past four years. However, I was also looking for something which would offer me the chance to develop other skills, such oral and written communication, and commercial awareness. Eventually, I came across a copy of Inside Careers in the university careers centre and started to learn about the world of patent attorneys. Several months later, I joined Reddie & Grose LLP (R&G) as a trainee.
As a trainee at R&G, you are immediately exposed to a wide range of patent work, ranging from contentious issues such as opposing a client’s competitor’s patent before the European Patent Office (EPO) to formally recording the transfer of a patent right in one or more countries around the world. This on-the-job training – which is all conducted under the close guidance and supervision of one of the firm’s partners – provides an invaluable way of developing the skills and knowledge necessary for becoming a good patent attorney.
After roughly a year of working at R&G, I attended an intensive 12-week Certificate in Intellectual Property Law course at Queen Mary, University of London (QM). This is the normal route for trainees at R&G and presents the ideal opportunity for understanding the legal framework behind the real-life scenarios encountered in the first year as a trainee. It is also a good opportunity to build friendships with trainees from other UK firms.
After about 3-4 years of working as a trainee, I sat a series of final-level exams in the UK and Europe. These are tough exams and it can often take people several attempts before they reach full qualification. However, R&G supplement their on-the-job training with a combination of in-house tutorials and external courses – such as a two week long preparatory seminar in Strasbourg – and for several years now, the firm’s trainees have achieved an extremely high pass rate.
I have now been qualified for just over one year and I am currently in the middle of a 12 month secondment at one of our firm’s larger clients in Switzerland. This has provided an invaluable chance to see things from the other side of the fence, and has also provided the perfect platform for making the transition from trainee to qualified patent attorney.