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  • Name: david_mills2 Mills
  • Job Title: Trainee Patent Attorney (Technology)
  • Location: Birmingham
  • University: Birmingham
  • Degree: MEng Materials Engineering

Why a career in intellectual property?

I would say my interest in the intellectual property (IP) profession first stemmed from reading a case study of James Dyson during an A level Design and Technology class. However, it wasn’t until I took a law module as part of my undergraduate degree that I began to realise a career in IP was a possibility. Following my first degree, I went on to take an engineering doctorate position based at Rolls-Royce plc, which enabled me to pick up various IP responsibilities, submit a few patents of my own and decide whether a career in IP really was for me.

When I finished my doctorate, I decided that an IP career ticked all the boxes: visibility of cutting-edge technologies, daily variation, stimulation and challenge, good career prospects and the added bonus of going some way to help innovators and designers secure rights to their work. Since amalgamating my interests and opting for a career in intellectual property, I haven’t looked back.

Do you get any training?

Since joining Avidity IP in November 2011, nearly all my time has been spent learning how to be a patent attorney. In my first six months with Avidity, I have been undertaking a full-time structured patent attorney training programme which is unique in our industry and helps make Avidity stand out from the competition. Training is delivered over a six month period by a former patent attorney with structured learning, exam papers and attorney work mixed to provide a comprehensive and interactive training package. Our training instils the teamwork, debate and continuous learning skills required for future best practice. All trainee attorneys start working for Avidity at our Birmingham office. At the end of the training programme the trainees are assigned to one of our office locations (Epping, Reading, Cambridge and Birmingham) where they are expected to integrate into their Professional Services teams and start creating value for the business.

As well as being provided with training support to develop my technical attorney skills, I am also being provided with ongoing development support to hone my business skills. At Avidity we know that to be a top class attorney we need to be able to communicate effectively and form strong business relationships. As an organisation we look to ensure that our attorneys are ‘fully rounded’; not only does Avidity expect its attorneys to be technically proficient but it also requires them to have strong commercial acumen and client engagement skills and to be effective managers and leaders. I have access to opportunities to develop my business and leadership skills through both in-house resources and external suppliers. I can see that having good organisational skills will be essential when juggling the demands of the business as well as working towards my exams.

What is it about the job that you like?

I enjoy the variety of work that comes my way: no two days are ever the same. Attorney work requires attention to detail, which particularly appeals to me. Problem solving, the need to formulate arguments and the activity involved in claim amendments and drafting are all aspects of the job that I particularly relish. Our emphasis on teamwork at Avidity is also important to me. I have the opportunity to work closely with other members of the Engineering team on a daily basis who are very supportive and I know I can call on them for guidance if I need it.

What future opportunities are there for you?

Starting a new career from scratch is a challenge, but having a supportive company behind me is a big plus. The company really wants its people to develop in their roles in order for them to reach their full potential.

Although I haven’t been around for very long, I’m travelling to the USA to represent Avidity on a project to build an international partnership. This company is progressive and in tune with Avidity’s approach to the IP business and we are excited about the opportunities working with them will bring. I will shortly be spending two weeks in the USA to work on the project with them, whilst helping to fully evaluate the opportunity we have to work together.

Any advice for the interview process?

The interview process that I went through was informal but at the same time thorough and I felt I was put through my paces. I had two interviews and was then offered the job. The focus of the interviews was as much about how I would fit into the organisation as it was about the technical aspects of the role.

My advice when interviewing for any attorney position: be prepared by thoroughly researching the company. You need to familiarise yourself with the basics which you can probably get from its website: vision statement, company values, strategy. I would also recommend that you see what you can find out about the company in the news. The internet makes this relatively easy. Having knowledge of the company’s business results, new initiatives or differentiators that makes the company stand out from the crowd can help to give you a leg up during the interview.

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