• Role: Trainee Patent Attorney
  • Location: Birmingham
  • University: Birmingham
  • Degree: MEng Mechanical Engineering

Ian Duncan

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What’s it like working at Forresters?
From your first week as a trainee you work on real cases with guidance from your supervising partner. This serves as a great introduction to the work that lies ahead and provides you with an early insight into the lifetime of a patent, from drafting an application all the way up to the successful grant of a patent. There are always opportunities to take on work from other partners and associates, which ensures both a steady and varied workload.

Forresters has a wide range of clients, from multinational companies to sole inventors. As a result, you are constantly exposed to new technologies and innovations; this is one favourite aspect of my role, as each week I can find myself going down the rabbit hole of researching new (and sometimes very niche) inventions and technologies.

What are the challenges of being a Trainee Patent Attorney?
One of the most challenging aspects of being a trainee patent attorney is the requirement to pass exams and balancing study time with your workload. One way in which Forresters support your progress during exams is by providing the opportunity to attend residential training courses for each exam. In addition, your colleagues are always on hand to answer any questions you have or provide advice on tackling tricky topics; there is wealth of experience to draw upon here.
After leaving University, I initially worked for a multinational engineering and technology company. My role at Forresters is very different from what I had done previously, and this obviously brings challenges. However, my supervising partner and colleagues were incredibly supportive from day one and have helped me see that my previous experience only serves to enhance my abilities.

What are some of the skills I will need as a Trainee Patent Attorney?
The role of trainee patent attorney is very much a multidisciplinary role. You must be able to grasp technical concepts quickly as well as being able to apply the law, which often requires an element of lateral thinking. A keen eye for detail is also fundamental to success in this role. It is often the case that the success or failure of a patent application hinges on only a few sentences, or even a few words. Another useful skill is the ability to express your ideas effectively to colleagues and clients; both written and orally. Though you may know the specifics of a case inside out, you will often be talking to people who do not and often within time constraints which means the ability to communicate effectively is key.

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