• Name: Olivia Dunne
  • Job Title: Trainee Patent Attorney
  • Location: London
  • University: Oxford
  • Degree: Master of Science - MS, Theoretical and Mathematical Physics
  • Areas of Specialism: Physics
Venner Shipley

Why did you choose a job in this profession?

Towards the end of my physics degree, I realised that the aspect I enjoyed the most was applying the knowledge I’d developed in the earlier years in different ways to study a wide range of physical phenomena. I decided that a career in academia, which would involve narrowing my field of study and specialising in a particular topic, wasn’t right for me. However, I still wanted to pursue a career in which I could apply the skills I’d acquired during my degree.

A career in intellectual property was therefore a perfect fit for me. It provided the opportunity to apply the tools and techniques I learnt during my studies on a daily basis to understand new inventions at the forefront of a variety of technical fields.

What was the application process like – any advice?

As a starting point, I would recommend looking at the employer directory on IP careers to learn about the different intellectual property firms and identify those which seem like a good fit. This is where I found Venner Shipley LLP and, after seeing a vacancy for a trainee patent attorney on their website, I applied by sending in my CV and a cover letter. However, even if there is no vacancy being advertised, it is worth sending in your CV and cover letter speculatively to any firms you’re interested in so that you’ll be considered when there is one!

Following my application, I was invited to an online interview, which was split into two parts. The first part was a short exercise involving a simple patent application and the second part was a more general interview assessing my interest in and aptitude for the role. To prepare for this, I’d recommend looking at some published patent applications to familiarise yourself with their structure and to get an idea of the language used to protect inventions.

I was then invited to a second interview which was held in person. I was interviewed by two members of the team which I would be joining, and this was another general interview about my experience and skills relevant to the role.

For the final stage of my application, I was asked to complete two online psychometric tests. My advice would be to remember that these tests are for the firm to get a better understanding of you and your working style, so try not to panic or overthink them!

What are your main duties/roles?

In my role so far, my main duties relate to patent prosecution work and patent drafting. Patent prosecution work involves reading through a patent application and a report from an intellectual property office and then, under the guidance of a supervisor, proposing to the client amendments and arguments we could make in response to get the patent granted. Patent drafting involves meeting with inventors to understand their invention, drafting a claim set to gain the broadest possible protection for their invention, and writing a description to explain in detail how their invention works.

Another key aspect of my current role is to learn about intellectual property law, in particular patent law. Upon beginning the role, I attended “boot camp” lectures ran by senior staff members at Venner Shipley LLP to introduce new joiners to the field and throughout the next few years, I will be attending external courses and sitting external exams to become a formally qualified patent attorney.

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