As I was coming towards the end of my degree, I started to think about that eternal dilemma that faces most university students: What am I going to do with the rest of my life? I had enjoyed my studies and had always had a fascination for science; I knew, however, that a PhD was not for me. Then I came across the patent profession, which seemed a fascinating combination of science and law.
I started at Withers & Rogers in September 2005 working in the Life Sciences & Chemistry practice group. We have a diverse range of clients ranging from sole inventors and small companies to universities and large corporations. While specialising in life sciences, I get exposed to a large array of different technologies, ranging from basic mechanical inventions to complicated biochemical ones. I have worked on patent applications for golf equipment, trainers, simple medical devices, vaccines and pharmaceutical drugs. It is very enjoyable working on such a variety of different technologies since you regularly get to see interesting new inventions rather than doing the same thing day in, day out. This also means that you are always having to learn about new technologies and to figure out how they work, which can be quite taxing.
My training at Withers & Rogers is largely experience-based. Primarily, I am given work by two people, although at one time or another I have worked with most attorneys in the office. Working with different people helps, as you are exposed to different aspects of the job and the different approaches of each person, although you also have to learn their idiosyncrasies as well!
Importantly, people in the office are always willing to lend a friendly ear for when you have those stupid questions to ask. There are numerous in-house tutorials for trainees aimed at passing the UK and European qualifying exams and trainees are also encouraged to attend external tutorials, lectures and courses. The training programme seems to work well as the exam success rate for trainees is relatively high.
Withers & Rogers is a very friendly and sociable firm. A number of events are organised every year including the Christmas and summer parties and you can always find people to go out with for lunch or for a few drinks after work. There is also a good attitude within the firm to the work/life balance.
If you have a background in science or engineering, an enquiring, analytical mind and enjoy finding out about innovations from both a scientific and legal viewpoint, the patent profession might well be for you.