Towards the end of my degree, I knew that I wanted to continue using the knowledge and skills I had acquired throughout my degree, and also knew that academia did not appeal to me. Many STEM undergrads find themselves in a similar position, yet very few consider a career in patent law. I recommend doing as I did by attending careers fairs, firm open days and getting in touch with patent attorneys to find out if patent law is the right choice for you.
After applying to patent law firms at the start of my final year, I started working at GJE in September 2019. The application process for GJE was simple: I submitted my CV with a covering letter, and was invited for a technical interview a few weeks later. A second round interview followed a few weeks after that, with a job offer following shortly thereafter.
Day to day, I work on a range of applications in various technical fields, from heavy machinery and medical devices, to telecommunications. I also work with clients of varying sizes, from start-ups to multinational corporations. Different clients have different expectations, so working with a variety of clients gives me the opportunity to learn how to best tailor our services and advice.
At GJE I was involved with ‘live’ cases from day one, but this isn’t to say that I was thrown in at the deep end. Asking questions, no matter how small, is encouraged, and my supervisor and colleagues were always available to give me the suggestions and guidance I needed. At times it can feel like quite a leap, going from a STEM degree to a legal profession, but colleagues across the firm provide plenty of support wherever it’s needed, whether that be in the form of structured lectures, or a chat to discuss a case.
Most people have a good sense that attention to detail, organisational and communication skills are crucial for anyone interesting in pursuing a career in patent law. However, an equally important skill is the ability to ask questions. As patent attorneys, we work at the edge of known technology, so it’s no wonder that sometimes a technology might be just outside of our understanding. Being comfortable with the need to ask questions, be it about a new technology, or a legal aspect of our work, is something that every good patent attorney must learn to do.