• Role: Trainee Patent Attorney
  • Location: London
  • University: Cambridge
  • Degree: PhD Physics

Lara Sibley

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My background

I joined Marks & Clerk in April 2012, after finishing my PhD in Condensed Matter Physics at Cambridge. Although I really enjoyed working in a lab, I didn’t want to remain in the same field for the rest of my career. I had heard about the patent attorney profession through former members of my PhD lab. I knew that I wanted a career involving physics, and the prospect of working with a broad range of subject matter seemed perfect for me. I also enjoyed writing and debating in my spare time at Cambridge, and these skills are a key part of the job.

Training

Marks & Clerk is one of the very few firms to run its own in-house ‘Training Academy’, to prepare trainees for the UK and European exams. This involves a series of lectures delivered by webinar, as well as away days at our different offices around the UK. Trainees also have the opportunity to attend external exam preparation courses, as well as those organised by the Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys (CIPA).

One of the advantages of working with a large firm is that there is a network of people to support you and help you through the training process. Sitting the exams with a group of peers means you can help each other with the preparation. There are also lots of people available to answer any questions you might have. In particular, being able to talk to people from Marks & Clerk Solicitors and from our overseas offices was very helpful when I was studying for my exams.

The job

A significant part of my job is working with inventors, often academics, to write patent applications. This involves meetings to discuss the invention, then writing the application with further input from the inventor. I also spend time dealing with objections raised by the Patent Office. Last year, I worked with my supervisor on an appeal case at the European Patent Office, which meant travelling to Munich to attend a hearing. I have also observed patent litigation proceedings at the High Court.

The job can often involve working on technology outside of your specialism, and it is important to be able to pick up new concepts quickly. From my experience, it also helps to have good organisational skills – often you will be working on many cases at the same time, and you need to be able to keep on top of the various deadlines.

Why I chose Marks & Clerk

There are many benefits of working for a larger firm. I get to work on a wide variety of cases, and with many different types of clients, and this experience has been invaluable when preparing for the exams. Also, being part of an international network gives you a real insight into the global profession. Although, day to day, we work in small teams, it is great having the support and infrastructural strength of a large firm. I also like the social side of working in a big office, and being part of a group of trainees who all started at the same time and who support each other.

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