• Role: Trainee Patent Attorney
  • Location: London
  • University: Oxford
  • Degree: MChem Chemistry

Sally Stevenson

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After two years of working in industry, I decided to look for a career change.  I was drawn to the patent profession by the combination of scientific and commercial aspects and by the intellectual challenges involved.  I was fortunate enough to be given a three day work experience placement in a patent law firm, and this confirmed that a career in patent law was right for me.  After two challenging but enjoyable interviews, I was offered a position at E+F and started work in July 2017.

I became involved with real client work on my very first day.  Unusually for a new trainee, the first case I worked on was an opposition file.  Although it is uncommon for a new trainee to work on opposition cases from the start, this work has provided the perfect platform for understanding the legal principles which make up the core of our profession.  Two years on, I work on both prosecution and drafting cases; however, I am very fortunate that opposition work still takes up the majority of my time.

I usually spend my day reading another party’s arguments, be it a communication from the patent office during prosecution or submissions to opposition proceedings, and drafting a reply.  In order to do this, it is necessary to research the prior art, understand the technology, analyse the relevant data and to use all of this information to construct persuasive arguments.  This process can take anything from a single morning to several days, depending on the type of work.

The aim of every trainee is to become qualified.  This involves several years of exams and independent study, and requires a significant commitment outside of working hours.  However, the qualification process provides a clear pathway for progression which makes the effort well worthwhile, and the stress of the exam period is eased by the supportive atmosphere at E+F.  E+F also provide both internal and external training for exams, which makes the process easier.

I have been made to feel like part of the team from my first day at E+F, and have been given a wide variety of work and real responsibility from the start.  My first two years have been challenging, rewarding, interesting and enjoyable.  For those interested in joining the profession, I would strongly recommend doing so with E+F.

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