• Role: Trainee Patent Attorney
  • Career Sectors: Patents
  • Location: Edinburgh
  • University: Glasgow
  • Degree: Ph. D. Physics

Rebecca Douglas

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I started studying for my M.Sci. in Physics at the University of Glasgow in 2007, choosing physics because I liked learning how things worked. It turned out that I also liked research, making a Ph.D. an obvious choice. After completing my Ph.D. and spending a year in postdoctoral research I was still having fun, but was concerned about becoming blinkered. There are a lot of fascinating developments in science and technology happening and I was only learning about a tiny fraction of them. I thought that training as a patent attorney sounded like a good route for broadening my exposure to new technology and would give me the chance to try out the new challenge of studying law. So, I researched the career and found myself applying to and interviewing with several companies, including Hindles in Edinburgh.

The interview was challenging, but fair, and I got the impression that my interviewers wanted to be sure that I was making the right decision in my career change, as well as making sure that I had the appropriate technical background. In turn, I was pleased to learn that the work would be varied, and that I’d be given the opportunity to be involved with a wide range of tasks from day one. I was delighted to be offered the position and I started in the middle of July – shortly before the Edinburgh Festival! Bonus!

My favourite aspect of the work is definitely the variety. I’ve worked on everything from drafts and oppositions through to IP audits, designs and trade marks, and I’ve been given plenty of opportunities to meet with our clients as well. The technology is just as varied; there are engine improvements, veterinary tools, gadgets for bicycles, safety equipment, positioning systems, biotech, photonics, renewables and more. All of this means that I’m constantly learning, but also making good use of my degree.

In October, I expect to sit three of the five foundation exams, and I’ll sit the remaining two the following year. I’ve been offered the opportunity to attend external courses to help prepare me for these exams and I’m also getting great support from the attorneys at Hindles, who are always happy to answer questions (or to set challenges!) There’s a strong focus on learning by doing, which suits me, and I feel like my training is one of the top priorities for the company.

It’s a challenging career to move into, and there seems to be a near-endless quantity of new things to learn, but that’s part of the fun of it. If you want to use your skills in science, writing and communication and varied days appeal to you, then I can strongly recommend training as a patent attorney. So far, Hindles has given me the best possible introduction to my new career and I haven’t looked back.

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