• Role: Trainee Patent Attorney
  • Location: London
  • University: Sussex
  • Degree: MChem and PhD in Chemistry

Joseph Newcombe

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Getting into the role
I thoroughly enjoyed my degrees and knew I wanted to stay in the field of science. Poor job security put me off pursuing a career in academia. I came across patent law during my PhD and realised that it requires technical scientific knowledge and analytical skills, both of which were aspects of research that I enjoyed.

I undertook a short internship at another IP firm and attended an open day at Mewburn Ellis while considering where to apply, both experiences were incredibly informative. I applied early on to many firms with offices in London. Mewburn Ellis were fastest to get back to me and offered me a role months before other firms picked up my application.

Life at the firm
From my first day in the office, I have been working on real cases. The workload largely requires digesting information, and communicating it to others. I find communicating technical information to specific audiences a very engaging part of the job.

Mewburn Ellis has an unusual practice of rotating trainees between different partners for approximately 6-month intervals. This means we get to experience different caseloads and working practices of partners at the firm. Some moves require relocation to different offices, all of which are in vibrant cities.

Many partners here were trained in-house and remember being in our position. As a result, trainees are respected within the firm. From early on I have been in direct contact with clients and my work is usually billed in my name. This establishes relationships with our clients that are important in later years.

I have been exposed to an extensive range of topics (within chemistry). My cases have involved pharmaceuticals, building materials, food additives, analytical equipment and dyes amongst many more.

A typical day
My daily tasks fluctuate, however, a typical day involves:
Reviewing instructions from foreign attorneys
Responding to clients queries about their patent portfolios
Disseminating examination/ search reports to clients
Drafting arguments in response to patent examiners
Drafting patent applications

Challenges
The coming years present many challenges, not least, in preparing for the UK and European qualifying exams. Mewburn Ellis provide regular tutorials for trainees. These have already helped me progress a lot. Trainees here also attend the Queen Mary Certificate in Intellectual Property Law which exempts us from the foundation exams to reach UK qualification.

If you are enthused by new technology and its inner workings, as well as analysing complex technical information and communicating it effectively, then patent law may well be a good fit for you. I find the job stimulating and fulfilling, whichever level you are at within the firm, there is always more to learn!

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