• Role: Trainee Patent Attorney
  • Location: London
  • University: Cambridge
  • Degree: MSci and PhD Chemistry

Sally Higson

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Like a lot of people, I greatly enjoyed my PhD research but knew halfway through that I didn’t want to make a career out of it. I didn’t find the day-to-day labwork very engaging and, on a more practical note, the lack of job security also turned me off. I met some patent attorneys at a STEM careers fair, and the more I heard about working in patent law, the more it appealed to me. In particular, I was more interested in reading and writing about research than doing it myself, and I wanted an intellectually challenging job in which I could use my scientific knowledge in a commercial context.

I’ve worked at J A Kemp for two years now. The support provided for our training and professional development includes in-house tutorials, weekly team meetings, a monthly ‘junior journal club’ where trainees review case law, regular webinar viewings, and plenty of ad-hoc teaching from the partners as we work on cases with them.

Every trainee is assigned a partner as their mentor, who provides a lot of their work for the first few months as well as a friendly face they can go to with any questions or problems. That said, we quickly start working with several different partners, which provides a great a wealth of experience to learn from. As J A Kemp is a fairly large IP firm, we get to work on an interesting and diverse range of inventions – I regularly work in the fields of pharmaceuticals, biologics, polymers, process chemistry, electrochemical devices and more.

A ‘typical day’ for me might involve, for example, responding to client queries, preparing written arguments, researching case law, discussing a case with a partner, analysing ‘prior art’ scientific documents and/or calling up the UK or European patent office. The job is very deadline-oriented and you do need to be organised, but the firm has a range of systems in place to facilitate this and our secretaries are always willing to help.

An IP firm like J A Kemp is also a very friendly, sociable place to work, with plenty of firm-organised events and parties, more casual trainee-organised quiz nights and sports, as well as just simply heading to the pub after work.

If you like the sound of an intellectually stimulating career with a commercial focus on scientific advances, I’d heartily recommend you apply!

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