• Role: Trainee Patent Attorney
  • Location: Birmingham
  • University: Birmingham
  • Degree: Physics and Astrophysics

Tom Jeal

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Why patent law?
When I was at school I wanted to be a barrister, later on, I got more involved in the sciences, and went off to study physics. Whilst at university, I began to realise that a career in physics was not for me, but I still wanted to maintain a link to science and innovation. I started looking for a career to fit this brief, and came across intellectual property. As a patent attorney, I get to use my scientific knowledge, whilst simultaneously pursuing my earlier interest in the law.

Why Barker Brettell?
What struck me most about the firm, along with the immense pride that the attorneys take in their work, was the communal ethos. Whilst researching the career, the word ‘solitary’ came up a lot, and whilst this is not inaccurate, at Barker Brettell, the attitude is very much that your problem is your team’s problem. The Birmingham office is largely open plan, and this harbours a collaborative environment which is not only a great place to share expertise and to learn, it also results in higher quality work for clients.

Training at Barker Brettell
One of the things that surprised me most upon joining the firm was how quickly I was thrown in at the deep end. This exposure is great from a training perspective, and should really help with my exams. I share an office with my supervising associate who bears the brunt of my questions, but nobody at the firm is out of reach if you need help.

The bulk of my work is made up of patent prosecution before the European Patent Office, but the global nature of the firm’s client base means I am also exposed to other jurisdictions such as China, the US, and Australia to name a few. Having to adapt arguments to suit different national laws is certainly a challenge, but a very interesting one! I have also been involved in a number of new patent drafts. These are often very exciting, and meeting inventors brimming with excitement over their new idea is always a privilege.

My advice
It’s never too early to get serious about a career in IP. If you can get some experience in the field, even if it’s just in the form of open days, and you are willing to put in the time and effort to research the career, firms will notice you.

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