Like many trainees, I started my career in the patent law with little to no knowledge of intellectual property. Add to that my limited experience in electronics (largely from first year labs in my physics degree), and you can see why I arrived for my first day as a Trainee Patent attorney in the Electronics and Communications team at Haseltine Lake Kempner thoroughly convinced that I was out of my depth. For me, the biggest challenge when starting at HLK was overcoming my own doubts and reassuring myself that this leap into the unknown was the right thing to do.
What support have you received?
The combination of an in-house training programme (called HLK academy) and supervision from an experienced partner in the Electronics and Communications team helped me to find my feet. With two days a week dedicated to HLK academy for the first few months, trainees get a good grounding on the legal aspects of the job. As for the technical side of the role, I soon learned that it’s the ability to pick up new subjects quickly that matters, rather than in-depth knowledge of one particular field.
One thing I’ve come to appreciate about working at HLK is that there’s a real emphasis on training, which means that the focus for trainees is on developing skills to become a better attorney, rather than on simply passing exams and billing time.
What surprised you the most when you first started at Haseltine Lake Kempner?
That I got to leave my desk at 5! Coming from a PhD I was used to working late, and I was surprised by partners at HLK telling me to leave my desk and go home by quarter past five. These days I’m out of the office just after 4pm, as I’ve shifted my working hours to give me more free time in the evenings.
Do you have any advice for anyone wanting to work in patent law?
Reach out to trainees at firms you’re interested in to get a better idea of what it’s like to work there. I didn’t have the confidence to do that when I was applying, but I know the trainees at HLK are always more than happy to answer questions over LinkedIn or meet up with someone locally for a coffee if they want to get an insight into the role and the firm.