One of my favourite aspects of studying materials science at university was the breadth of different topics that were covered by the course. Now, this is something that I get to enjoy in my day-to-day job as a trainee patent attorney. After just over three years of being in this role, I have encountered a variety of fascinating patent applications relating to cutting-edge solar cells, semiconductor manufacturing, car engines, batteries, and so much more.
I am really happy that my role allows me to use what I have learned in my degree, while nurturing new knowledge and skills. As a trainee patent attorney, one of the main goals is to learn how to navigate within the legal system that governs patent law. While this is a steep learning curve, the firm offers a lot of support by providing in-house tutorials, organising presentations on the latest case law, as well as having many friendly colleagues who are always keen to help. Also, going through the training process with the cohort of fellow trainees has made this experience incredibly enjoyable. Our cohort’s final exams are coming up in 2024, and the firm has been very supportive in helping us prepare for them.
An exciting aspect of being a trainee is that you get involved in real cases from day one. My work involves handling patent applications at various stages: from patent drafting, to patent prosecution, and then seeing the patent application progress to grant. Patent prosecution can be particularly challenging and interesting, as it can involve preparation of complex arguments to convince a patent examiner that the invention of our client is novel and inventive in view of the prior art. Typically, I do my work independently, with a few rounds of discussion with the partner on the case. I also engage in some business development activities. This field of work is highly deadline-orientated, however, the firm has plenty of systems in place to ensure all deadlines are monitored properly which is of great help.
While some aspects of the job can be demanding, I would say that it is definitely possible to maintain a good work-life balance. There is no strict expectation of working the 9-to-5 Dolly Parton lifestyle, meaning that it is possible to structure your day in a way that allows you to meet friends, go to the gym, etc. while keeping on top of your work commitments.
The people at the firm are very friendly and supportive. I really appreciate there is a culture of people having lunch together, as well as going on the occasional pub trip after work.
This career is intellectually stimulating and rewarding. I would recommend it to anyone who wants to stay connected to scientific and technological developments, while building an appreciation for the commercial element of innovation.