• Role: Trainee Patent Attorney
  • Career Sectors: Patents
  • Location: London
  • University: Cambridge
  • Degree: MEng in Aeronautical Engineering

Chris O’Beirne

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Many patent attorneys enter the profession after spending a period doing research in the laboratory and deciding there is such a thing as too much science. I did the opposite! After graduating, I worked in finance for several years, but missed using the technical knowledge that I learnt during my degree. I decided that training to be a patent attorney would allow me to have the best of both worlds – using my scientific knowledge in a commercial setting. I applied to a few firms, and was lucky enough to be offered a place as a trainee in the Engineering and IT team at J A Kemp.

Since then, I have taken (and, fortunately, passed) the foundation level exams towards qualifying as a European and British patent attorney. I will be taking the final exams to complete my qualification next year.

At J A Kemp trainee patent attorneys are given a wide variety of work (on real cases) from day one. There are in-house tutorials throughout your training. The programme kicks off with a thorough grounding in the basics in your first couple of months at the firm, moving on to more advanced topics as your knowledge grows. In the run up to exams the focus is on exam preparation.

You will be given a mentor at the outset of your training. Your mentor will have overall responsibility for your training, but you will work with several of the firm’s partners on a mix of cases. This is a great opportunity to experience different styles and approaches to patent work as you develop in confidence and learn the job. It also means that your caseload is varied – I work for all types of clients, ranging from tiny start-ups to huge multinationals, active in the UK, Europe and all over the world, and handle patent applications for everything from jet engines, to bone implants, to coffee machines!

In a typical day, I will work on several different cases. I might be writing a new patent application for a client, preparing arguments to submit to the patent office, or, on a good day, writing to a client to tell them their patent has been granted! There are other types of work too, such as writing infringement opinions or carrying out due diligence work for companies that are looking at acquiring patents.

Although I came into this career by a roundabout route, I have no hesitation in recommending it to anyone who is looking for an intellectually challenging job in which they can use their scientific background to help businesses. Get your application in now!

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