Why did you decide to become a patent attorney?
Towards the end of my PhD, I realised that research wasn’t for me; I had always loved learning about my wider topic (immunology), but I could feel myself focussing on narrower subtopics as time passed, forgetting even some of the basics from my degree. It was around this time I stumbled upon the patent profession. After some research, I realised that a career as a patent attorney would allow me to use the skills and knowledge I had already acquired in a challenging, structured career in which I could learn about new technologies that are not just limited to my specific area of expertise.
How did you get a job at Barker Brettell?
I sent my CV and a cover letter to firms that I thought would provide the best training experience and who also had a strong biotechnology background. Getting a positive response initially was tough, as many firms hire new trainees with a given scientific background as and when business requires. I began my first position at another firm close to London, but then relocated to the Midlands after around 18 months. I was lucky enough to have interest from a few firms at this stage, but after my first interview at Barker Brettell, it was clear that this was the firm for me.
What’s it like working at Barker Brettell?
I can honestly say I really enjoy my job, which makes such a difference to my days in research. The Birmingham office is largely open plan, which provides a friendly and sociable environment, but also an inclusive one where problems and questions can be shared with anyone. This results in high quality work for clients and a great training environment where you never feel ‘alone’. Equally, you are thrown in at the deep end and expected to try and solve problems independently where you can, which really helps to prepare for exams. The work is extremely varied; one day you could be contributing in a client meeting and discussing technologies with inventors, and the next day drafting a new patent application or navigating case law to try and find ways around an Examiner’s objection.
It is never too early to take steps to enter the profession. Try to attend career days or get some work experience, but most importantly, get yourself noticed.