I have always been passionate about science. After finishing my PhD, however, I found that I was looking for something more than continued university-based research. I wanted to be involved in a broad range of science as I had worked in the fields of both electronics and geophysics. On the advice of a family friend, who had just retired from the profession, I decided to investigate the role of a patent attorney. I spent a week on work experience with a firm, which confirmed that this was the career for me.
As I finished my research position, I began applying for jobs and started working in the electronics and engineering team at Venner Shipley in September 2014. The majority of training occurs on-the-job and from the first day I was given real cases to work on. I was assigned a supervising partner who is there to guide me, review my work and provide feedback. I have found this style of learning to be really effective and I am always surprised by the diversity of tasks that I am set. The work I do includes presenting arguments to help get a patent granted for a client’s invention, providing opinions on patentability of new ideas, assessing the validity of a competitor’s patent, and drafting new patent applications.
The firm also provides additional training through internal seminars and tutorials. Topics vary and may relate to the professional exams trainees are required to take, as well as practical issues such as participating in oral proceedings. Trainees are also encouraged to attend a lecture series at CIPA, which provides an introduction to the topics studied in more detail during the Queen Mary course on Intellectual Property. All trainees are required to attend this course at the end of their first year, in order to gain exemption from the foundation exams. It also provides a great forum in which to get to know trainees from other firms.
On return from the Queen Mary course, the firm’s policy is to assign trainees to a new supervising partner. I believe this allows trainees to increase the breadth of their training through exposure to a wider variety of technologies and different styles of work. In turn, this allows trainees to develop their own style and best-practice approach to work that suits each individual.
I have been really impressed by the friendly and open office atmosphere at Venner Shipley. All the trainees work closely together so that there is always someone at hand to ask questions of and share ideas with. I was made to feel really welcome from the very start and everyone (trainees, support staff and partners) is really friendly and willing to help you, which is important as there is so much to learn as a new trainee. Venner Shipley is also a sociable firm and there are regular social events and inter-firm activities to take part in. The big events of the year are the Christmas party and the summer outing.