• Role: Patent Assistant
  • Location: Reading
  • University: Leeds
  • Degree: PhD Physics

Katherine Brown

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Towards the end of a spell as a postdoctoral researcher, I decided that a career in academia was not for me and began looking for other options. I chose to go into patent law because it provided me with an opportunity to use the technical skills I had gained during my time in science in a more structured environment. I emailed my CV to several firms and got invited to a few interviews. Of the jobs I was offered, I chose Boult Wade Tennant because of the relaxed and friendly atmosphere, as well as for the excellent training and the opportunity to work outside of London.

When I started, my main role was assisting my supervising partner in getting patents through to grant at the European Patent Office and the UK Intellectual Property Office. As I have gained more experience, my role has expanded and I am now involved in drafting and arguing for the grant of patents at hearings at the patent offices. I have also taken on more responsibility for seeing complex cases through to grant.

The firm encourages you to gain independence as a patent assistant. Therefore, you have a lot of flexibility in how you manage your workload. A typical day for me will start with me checking my emails and completing short administrative tasks, such as sending reminders. I will then spend the rest of the day concentrating on particular cases, before getting my work approved by my supervising partner, and sent out before I head home.

The biggest challenge in this job, particularly if you are not coming straight from an undergraduate degree, is getting used to sitting exams again. However, Boult Wade Tennant provides both external training courses and excellent in-house tutorials which help with this. They also offer a lot of flexibility in how you chose to schedule your exams allowing you to take a faster, but more intense, or a slower, but more relaxed, route depending upon your personal tastes. This definitely helps with what is a challenging time for all trainees.

For anyone looking to get into the profession, I would strongly encourage reading some of the Intellectual Property blogs. I also recommend getting involved in schemes such as the voluntary vacation scheme offered by Boult Wade Tennant since these give you the opportunity to talk to trainees and see what the job involves for yourself.

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