• Role: Technical Assistant
  • Location: London
  • University: Heriot-Watt
  • Degree: Masters in Mechanical Engineering

Alan Currie

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My name is Alan Currie, I am a Trainee Patent Attorney with Cleveland Scott York having joined in January 2018. Previously I worked offshore in the oil and gas industry as a Measurements While Drilling Engineer and latterly as a Mechanical Asset Engineer onshore at a refinery. After a feeling of dissatisfaction with how my roles were turning out, I decided to change.

What was the application process like – any advice?

Generally, each firm requires a covering letter and CV as the first stage. With CSY I was then scheduled for a telephone interview with one of the partners. Following this I was invited to a recruitment day with six other potential candidates. During the day we were put through various exercises and interviews. It was an intensive process, but I felt I was assessed more thoroughly and fairly than other interviews I had attended. My main advice for any application process is to not get disheartened with rejections and on the day of interviews, be honest with your skills and expectations of the job.

What are your main duties/roles?

I would say I am still quite early in my career but keep a busy schedule with challenging tasks. I work closely with one partner who I help with various jobs such as filing responses at various Intellectual Property Offices, drafting claims for a new patent, filing amendments in response to examiners remarks, revising for upcoming exams, meeting with current and potential future clients to discuss their needs, preparing invoices and emails etc.

What skills are useful in this sector/profession?

From what I have gathered so far, at the heart of the profession is the ability to break down an invention/product/process, understand how it works and explain why it’s different from something else. I find being able to compare specific concepts helps as often it is very small details that differentiate one invention from another, cutting through a lot of waffle to get to the main ideas of the patent/invention is important. Finally, being able to read a long, complicated document and summarise it coherently is essential to the job.

What would you like to achieve in the future?

To be brief, I want to pass the exams to qualify as a UK/EU patent attorney.

Do you have any advice for anyone wanting to get into the industry?

I was lucky enough to chat with some Patent Attorneys before I decided to apply for a position. I found that it very useful to make sure I knew what I was getting into. Having had a few jobs since university, I can tell you that no job turns out to be exactly what you imagined it would be day to day, so my best advice is to find out as much as possibly about the daily tasks before you commit yourself. I have found that most patent attorneys are very open and honest regarding matters like this, so it’s worth trying to have a chat with someone that has been in the industry for a while.

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