Who are the CIPA Informals?

The Informals is the association of the student members of the Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys (CIPA) who are not yet fully-qualified. This primarily comprises of trainee patent attorneys who are new to the profession, part-qualified, or single-qualified in the UK or Europe. However, opportunities provided by the Informals’ Committee may be of interest to those who are recently dual-qualified (e.g. those who are one or two years post-qualification). Thus, the remit of the Informals’ Committee may extend to associate members of CIPA who are part-qualified, and to CIPA Fellows who are single or recently dual-qualified patent attorneys.

What is your role as the Honorary Secretary?

The Informals Committee aims to act as the collective voice of trainees within the profession. As Informals Honorary Secretary, my duty is to oversee the committee and attend CIPA council meetings in order to present the views and concerns of the younger members of the profession to CIPA. Additional responsibilities include:

  • Liaising with CIPA membership team to get them to set up committee meetings, provide an agenda, request minutes post meetings
  • Promoting a diverse range of training topics for the advanced lecture series, including business development, managing relations, and networking
  • Reporting on the activities the Committee undertakes and on financial matters to CIPA Council and/or the Internal Governance Committee of CIPA as and when required
  • Dealing with any issue that may arise with any Committee member
  • Facilitating handover between old and new Committees

What type of activities do the Informals run?

The Informals Committee provides support by: organising lectures and tutorials to supplement the educational training provided by employers; giving assistance and advice to new and prospective members; and organising events… but what type of events?

Well, here’s a small sample of things we get involved in!

Student Conference

Hosted by the CIPA Executive and the Honorary Secretary, the CIPA Student Conference brings together trainees from across the country for an exciting day full of useful sessions and networking. A highlight of the conference is the “moot court session”, where trainees volunteer to represent the interests of two clients in a patent litigation case.

A visit to the UK Intellectual Property Office

We have collaborated with examiners at the UK Intellectual Property Office (IPO) to run a yearly event where trainees will visit the IPO in person. The visits include sessions on how the UK IPO assesses inventive step, a claims drafting workshop, and an informal discussion with a UK examiner.

In-person meetings offer a forum for trainee patent attorneys to engage in open dialogue with examiners, clarifying complexities and resolving issues in real-time. Patent law is nuanced, and navigating the intricacies of patent examination often requires nuanced discussions. By meeting examiners in person, trainees can seek clarification on ambiguous points, address any misunderstandings, and work collaboratively towards finding solutions. This direct interaction fosters clearer communication and reduces the likelihood of misinterpretations or miscommunications that can arise in written correspondence.

Observing how examiners approach different cases and hearing firsthand anecdotes from their experiences offers invaluable lessons that extend beyond the confines of any single patent application. These insights contribute to the holistic development of trainee patent attorneys, equipping them with the knowledge and skills needed to excel in their careers.


In the realm of law, where billable hours often dominate the discourse, the significance of fostering camaraderie among trainee lawyers cannot be overstated.

Imagine a scenario where trainee lawyers from various companies come together on the sports field. The clatter of spikes on concrete, the whoosh of a perfectly struck tennis ball, or the jubilant cheers after a well-executed play become the backdrop for building relationships that extend beyond the confines of an office. We believe these actions are invaluable. For this reason, we organise an electrifying showdown of firms in a 5-a-side football tournament at least once per year! Trainees are encouraged to gather a squad of up to 8 players and showcase their skills in a fast paced, action packed tournament.

Yoga Sessions

Picture a corner of the office transformed into a sanctuary of calm and tranquillity – this is where the well-being officer orchestrates regular yoga sessions for trainee patent attorneys. These sessions offer a precious opportunity to unwind, de-stress, and reconnect with the present moment amid the demands of patent law. Led by a member of the committee the yoga classes cater to trainees!

A podcast: ‘The IP Survival Guide’

We have launched a podcast series tailored to the interest and concerns of trainees. From discussions on recent developments in patent law to interviews with seasoned practitioners and wellness experts, the podcast provides a platform for learning, sharing insights, and fostering professional growth.


If you decide to become a patent attorney, the Informals Committee looks forward to welcoming you, and hopes to see you at our educational and social events. The best way to keep up to date with Informals activity and what roles are available is to subscribe to our blog the Yellow Sheet, and join our Linkedln group.

About the Author

  • Name: Ashley Ebot Tambe

Ashley is a Patent Scientist at Murgitroyd. He joined the patent profession in 2021 after obtaining a First Class Honours in Civil & Structural Engineering at the University of Manchester. He focuses on drafting and prosecuting patent applications relating to Mechanical Engineering inventions. Ashley is the 2024 Honorary Secretary of the CIPA Informals Committee and is particularly passionate about ensuring CIPA student members are able to network, support each other, and access opportunities to enhance their technical and business development skills.

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