• Role: Trainee Patent Attorney
  • Location: Sevenoaks
  • University: Bristol
  • Degree: MSci Physics and Philosophy

Neil Fenwick

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At university, I studied a joint-honours course in Physics and Philosophy, since I was keen to include aspects of both science and arts in my degree. As I came to investigate possible careers, this same mix still appealed and, after researching the intellectual property profession, it became clear that the role of Patent Attorney could afford an excellent balance between both the application of scientific knowledge and training as well as the exercise of more linguistic skills of argument and analysis.

On interviewing at Elkington and Fife, I was struck by the firm’s welcoming, relaxed atmosphere and felt straight away that it would be a place I would be happy working and training. I was lucky enough to be offered a trainee position, and joined the electromechanical group in August 2014.

The training at Elkington and Fife is very much hands-on, and from my first day I was working on real cases for clients. The work that the group handles is extremely varied, spanning across a broad range of different technical areas – meaning that no two days here are ever quite the same(!).

A typical day will often involve working on multiple cases, each relating to a different technology, and so the ability to switch quickly between different tasks and priorities is also very important. It is also the case that almost everything in the job is managed by deadlines, many of which are immovable, and so maintaining efficient time management and self-organisation is also an essential skill.

As time has gone on, the range of work I am exposed to has increased and I have found myself charged with a greater variety of tasks and responsibilities. Autonomy in managing my own caseload and deadlines has also grown, affording a greater independence which has increasingly made the role a much more fulfilling and stimulating one. Indeed, a characteristic of Elkington and Fife is that trainees are quickly made to feel an essential and highly trusted part of the team, whose work can make a genuine contribution to the success and profit of the firm.

At the same time as working, there is also a process of qualification, and this does involve many hours invested in study at home. The process for me remains only part-way complete, with my UK final exams scheduled for this October. However, it is not a process without its rewards, both in the short term, as you witness your knowledge and competence in your day to day work grow, and in the long term, as each new exam passed takes you a noticeable step forwards in your career.

From my time so far in the role, I have found the job to be stimulating, challenging and always interesting. For anyone who is keen to utilise their scientific knowledge in a non-laboratory setting, and is excited at the prospect of retraining in a new profession at the same time, I would thoroughly recommend joining the patent profession, and doing so with Elkington and Fife.

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