• Name: Lucy Philip
  • Job Title: Patent Advisor
  • Location: Derby
  • University: Nottingham
  • Degree: Masters in Chemistry
  • Areas of Specialism: Chemistry

Why did you choose a job in this profession?

Before going to university, I was always interested in studying law or chemistry. When researching what a career in either might look like, I discovered patent law. I went on to study chemistry at university and found that I loved the theory but didn’t enjoy being in the lab as much. When I was applying for jobs in my final year, I revisited patent law as I thought it was a great way to continually learn about innovations in science without having to do the research myself. It also enabled me to learn about law after all, even though I didn’t choose to study it at university.

Why Swindell & Pearson?

Swindell & Pearson is unlike many other firms. It’s a close-knit community which encourages collaboration between colleagues, each with a different background. There isn’t a divide between trainees and the qualified attorneys. Each trainee gets to have one-on-one supervision sessions each day with a director who is their mentor at the firm. On top of this, we have a great training program which involves weekly training sessions which focus on the practical skills needed for prosecuting and drafting patent applications. We also have monthly talks which delve into particular areas of the law. Swindell & Pearson is also unusual in that you get an opportunity to work in loads of different technical fields. Whilst my background is in chemistry I work on mechanical and technological inventions too which is great!

What was the application process like – any advice?

The application process for Swindell & Pearson was straightforward. After submitting a CV and cover letter, I had a brief telephone interview. I was then invited to have an interview in person in our Derby office.

The interview consisted of a series of tasks, for example, for one task, I had to decide in what order a set of activities should be completed in a day. Being able to manage deadlines well is an important skill for a patent attorney. Another one of the tasks was comprehension based; I was asked to read a research paper and answer a set of questions based on what I had read. This is akin to analysing prior art documents when prosecuting patent applications. Although the interview was challenging, my interviewers were friendly which put me at ease.

If I were to give advice to someone preparing for an interview for a role in patent law, I would advise them to make sure you demonstrate a genuine interest in the field. These roles are competitive so definitely know the basics such as what a patent is and what its purpose is. The profession isn’t an easy one, so showing you’re dedicated and have done your research is great.

If you can manage to get work experience this would definitely be an advantage but it is often hard to come by. Alternatively, having a chat with someone who is working in the profession who can give you a feel about what the day-to-day activities are and what to expect from the qualification process can be helpful.

I would also ensure that you don’t let tricky interview questions throw you off, working through them methodically and keeping your cool demonstrates that you’ll be prepared for becoming a trainee.

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