I first came across patents during a research project for my degree at McGill University in Canada. Initially, my interest was piqued by the extensive information within patent documents, which I found particularly useful as a research resource. However, as my engineering studies continued, my interest in patents as a potential career grew and I set about finding out more. After attending a lecture on IP, it became apparent that I did not need to compromise on technology or on law – patents were made for me!
I discovered Hoffmann Eitle via the Inside Careers website. Attracted by the firm’s strong reputation, client base and pan-European office locations, I applied to the London office and, after two rounds of rigorous yet stimulating interviews, was offered a position as a trainee patent attorney.
My initial impressions, that I would be well-supported and thoroughly trained, were not wrong. From day one, I have worked on current client files, analysing the patent application and the documents cited by the patent office examiner to formulate an argument I could present to my supervising partner. With each new file, I am challenged to quickly understand a new field of technology, and either to explain the key issues and possible solutions to the client, or to study the client’s instructions and formulate a response for filing at the patent office, in both cases trying to acquire strong, commercially relevant protection for the client. Going through my work critically on a one to one basis with a partner who has years of experience allows me to learn from my mistakes whilst also gaining valuable legal experience and honing my client-care skills. Attendance at client meetings has also been invaluable in this regard.
As trainees, we are sponsored by the firm to study for the Certificate in Intellectual Property Law at Queen Mary University of London. This course is particularly engaging as the topics studied combine to provide the framework of the legal principles which underpin my regular work. Alternating work with study often allowed me to apply the lecture theatre principles to commercial reality in the very same week.
Having successfully obtained the Certificate in IP Law, I am looking forward to the experience of a six month secondment to Hoffmann Eitle’s head office in Munich. Here, I will be able to develop my skills further by working closely alongside a circle of supervising attorneys of different nationalities and different client bases. I will also have the opportunity to attend hearings at the European Patent Office in person, an experience that brings the file work to life in what can be a very dramatic setting. Successes at such hearings are customarily celebrated in a local beer garden!
Within the next year, I will have sat my first finals-standard qualifying exams and, based on the training received, am optimistic of becoming a dual-qualified British and European patent attorney in the next few years … et peut-être Conseil français aussi plus tard!