Richard G.

Patent Attorney
Happy to mentor
Happy to be contacted

About me

Richard G.
Electronics
Electronic Engineering
Undergraduate
Vanbrugh
2001
United Kingdom

My employment

Patent Attorney
HGF Limited
United Kingdom
Legal services
2003

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A day in the life of a Patent Attorney in the United Kingdom

How I found out about the job

Speculative application

The recruitment process

After identifying possible firms that I wanted to work for, I directly emailed them enclosing my CV. The fact that this worked for me was perhaps rather more luck than judgement. Identifying firms actually looking for trainees would be a better bet.

My career history

As is perhaps typical, I worked (briefly) as an engineer after leaving university before realising that while science and engineering still interested me, I was looking for the opportunity to apply my skills in a new way. I started training at a first firm of patent attorneys before relocating and joining a second firm where I qualified as a patent attorney in 2007, before moving to my current firm in 2012.

Courses taken since graduation

Postgraduate Certificate in Intellectual Property Law, Chartered Patent Attorney, European Patent Attorney

Where I hope to be in 5 years

For many, promotion to partnership is their long term ambition. Partnership brings its own additional responsibilities, but these can be outweighed by the chance to influence the direction of a firm and the financial benefits. For those who feel that partnership is not for them it is still possible to enjoy a rewarding, well rounded career.

My advice to students considering work

First and foremost academic excellence in science or engineering is essential. Few if any firms will take a trainee with a 2:2. However, employers look for rather more than this, they are looking for critical thinking, the ability to deliver under pressure and the ability to argue persuasively in writing and in person. Being a patent attorney is rather more about being able to give timely, commercially useful advice than it is about being able to recite the law.

Speak to someone who is a patent attorney (me for instance...). Quiz them - they should be good at answering difficult questions (and if they are not, perhaps you don't want to work for that firm). Work experience is quite rare, but don't be afraid to ask a firm if you can come in for a chat (especially to newish trainees). Get the very best degree that you can. Industry experience can be an advantage, but is not essential.

My advice about working in my industry

Speak to someone who is a patent attorney (me for instance...). Quiz them - they should be good at answering difficult questions (and if they are not, perhaps you don't want to work for that firm). Work experience is quite rare, but don't be afraid to ask a firm if you can come in for a chat (especially to newish trainees). Get the very best degree that you can. Industry experience can be an advantage, but is not essential.

What I do

My day to day work is extremely varied, and may include meeting clients (who may be engineers, management or board level), writing patent specifications detailing an invention (working closely with the inventors), responding to objections raised by the patent offices either in writing or in person and more general responsibilities within the firm, for instance mentoring trainees or business development. While part of a large team, on whom I can draw support, a large proportion of my work involves me analysing documents and writing or revising patent specifications working independently.

Skills I use and how I developed them



Extracurricular skills:
Technical knowledge is a prerequisite, but is kept sharp through constant exposure to cutting edge technology. Legal knowledge it taught on the job, and must be kept constantly up to date, but the ability to absorb and apply a large amount of legal knowledge is also a pre-requisite. Reasoned arguing on the basis of technical and legal information, both in writing and verbally is essential, but again something that comes with experience (though the ability to critically analyse a large volume of information is expected from the start).

What I like most

Interacting with clients and seeing where our work makes a real difference is hugely rewarding. It is also challenging both technically (electronics for me) and legally on a daily basis. While some of the work is routine, you are always dealing with new inventions and frequently new people. And let's be honest, the pay is good. I've not listed my current salary, but I would suggest the salary ranges quoted on this website are broadly correct: http://www.insidecareers.co.uk/professions/patent-attorneys/

What I like least

Law is a service industry like any other. Meeting the client's needs is critical. This includes being flexible and working late when needed (though the hours compare extremely well to some other branches of law). The job is deadline driven, and the deadlines are often short term and unbending. Some people could find the large amount of time spent working on your own isolating, but I rather like shutting myself off in my room, getting my head down and the work done and then going home and forgetting about it. I rarely take work home, but perhaps I am lucky (or just prefer to stay late if needed).

Next steps...

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