• Name: Sarah Doyle
  • Job Title: Trainee Patent Attorney
  • Location: Manchester
  • University: Sheffield
  • Degree: MEng Mechanical Engineering
  • Areas of Specialism: Mechanical Engineering
Wilson Gunn

Why did you choose a job in this profession?

Having always thought about a career in law, a last-minute change of heart led me to undertake an engineering degree. Upon nearing the end of my degree, I realised that I didn’t want a ‘typical engineering job’ and began looking at alternate career paths. I was still attracted to the legal profession but couldn’t envision myself completely leaving science behind.

Having been lucky enough to undertake a “law for engineers’” module at university, I had already had a brief introduction to the patent profession. Upon further investigation, it appeared to be a fusion of law and science which would satisfy my craving for a legal career whilst allowing me to work with a variety of inventive technology.

What does a typical day look like?

It is difficult to say what a ‘typical day’ looks like as there are so many elements to the job. On a daily basis, you could be working on any part of the patent process; from the early stages of discussing ideas with inventors and drafting applications, all the way through to grant and beyond.

Each technical assistant works alongside at least one of the firms’ partners, who provides support and guidance with work. Most people transitioning from a science degree, PhD, or other industries will find that many aspects of the job are new. It is extremely valuable to begin your career in a firm like Wilson Gunn, where colleagues are happy to share their knowledge and help you get to grips with the intricacies of the job.

You will be exposed to a wide variety of cases, and there will be opportunities to get involved with a broad range of clients and tasks. This all adds up to a job which is incredibly varied, and in which you will never stop learning.

What skills are useful in this profession?

Wilson Gunn has a diverse range of clients, so it is important to be adaptable. There are individual inventors who may be starting out on their commercial journey, as well as much larger companies having a substantial patent portfolio, fundamental to their business strategy. It is critical that you are able to adapt and understand each client’s needs in order to provide the most effective advice.

A large part of the job involves analysing existing patents. Being able to efficiently process large quantities of information is a key skill. However, nobody expects a new trainee to be the ‘whole package’ from the outset. It is much more important that you come with a desire to develop the skills you already have, and you will find that you will quickly hone many skills as you progress through your training.

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