• Role: Trainee Patent Attorney
  • University: Cambridge
  • Degree: Natural Sciences (Chemistry)
  • Organisation: Carpmaels & Ransford

Isobel Barry

At the end of my four years at Cambridge I found myself in a similar position to many of my peers: I was passionate about science and continuing to do a PhD seemed like the sensible option. However, the idea of focusing solely on a narrow area didn’t appeal to me, and I knew that my communication skills trumped my clumsiness in the laboratory.

It took a few different jobs after graduation for me to gain a clear idea of what I wanted from a career. By the time I came to reading about the patent profession I could see that it ticked all the right boxes for me.

It’s important to understand what the job is about before applying: it isn’t for everyone but if you are the right fit then it is very rewarding. You’ll be able to put your scientific or engineering background to good use and will find yourself working in fields you might not have imagined. Some call it a “vertical learning curve”, as you need to simultaneously get to grips with new methods of working, the vast field of patent law, unfamiliar technical areas and your clients’ commercial priorities.

Being able to work to deadlines is an essential part of the job so organization and time management are vital. If you enjoy applying yourself to understanding new material, sorting the salient points from the unimportant, and preparing convincing arguments, you’ll enjoy every day in the patent profession.

At Carpmaels, assistants work for several different partners, giving us exposure to differing ways of working as we develop our skills in the profession. I believe this is one of the reasons that the firm’s training is so successful, and it adds to the challenge as there are many different partners’ expectations and deadlines to manage!

The wealth of experience in the firm comes into play in the in-house tutorials run for new starters and for those undertaking the professional examinations, as well as in the regular meetings for discussing recent case law and practice points. It’s great to see even the most experienced members of the firm challenging and learning from each other, right until the end of their careers.

I find the focus on quality at Carpmaels extremely satisfying: the goal is to deliver the best possible service to the client, not simply to get as many cases across your desk as possible. Everyone works hard together to achieve this goal, and the supportive atmosphere in the office aids this. However, we know how to unwind too, and there are plenty of social occasions attended by attorneys and support staff alike.

There are also plenty of opportunities to meet others in the profession at the events organised by CIPA and the Informals. The excellent work–life balance means you get the best of both worlds.

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