Need help deciding whether intellectual property and working as a patent attorney is the right career choice for you? We always find that the best advice is from those with first-hand experience of working in the profession, so that you can get a real insight into what it has to offer, whether it is suited to your skills and experiences, and what it is really like to work with patents and trademarks in this niche industry.
We spoke to Sarah Le Mesurier, a Patent Attorney with Boult Wade Tennant, and asked her to tell us a little bit more about her academic background, how she came across intellectual property as a career choice, and what her experience of working as a patent attorney has been like so far…
Can you tell us a bit about your academic background?
I studied Physical Natural Sciences at Cambridge University. My degree encompassed a wide range of subjects included organic chemistry, pharmacology and mathematics. I specialised in materials science in my final year.
Why did you choose a career as a patent attorney and in intellectual property? Was it always an area you were always interested in working in?
I was completely unaware of the patent profession until one of my supervisors at university mentioned that she was interested in pursuing a career in IP. I then contacted various firms for work experience and was very fortunate that Boult Wade Tennant offered me a week in their Cambridge office. The work experience confirmed that this was the career for me. I enjoyed being challenged, problem solving in a creative way and working at the interface between science, law and language.
How did you get your job at Boult Wade Tennant? Could you tell us a little bit about how you found the role – for example, did you do any work experience before finishing your degree?
Following a successful week of work experience, I was delighted to be offered a job with Boult Wade Tennant.
Do you have any advice for any students looking for work experience as a patent attorney?
A number of firms offer official work experience schemes. Indeed, Boult Wade Tennant now offers a vacation scheme, which provides a valuable insight into the life of a patent attorney. The vacation scheme at Boult Wade Tennant is particularly suitable for undergraduates, postgraduates or someone seeking a change in career. If a firm of interest does not offer any official schemes, then I would recommend contacting that firm directly and asking for work experience.
We often hear of some women working in the wider technology industry or traditionally “male dominated” industries feeling their gender has led to them being treated or perceived differently to male colleagues. Is this something you have experienced? If so, how did you handle it?
I have not been treated or perceived different to my male colleagues.
Do you notice a lack you notice a lack of women, particularly younger women, working in IP? If you’ve noticed the opposite to be the case, can you tell us a bit about that instead?
I have not noticed a lack of women working in IP. Boult Wade Tennant is a fairly gender balanced firm. We have had a female managing partner and a female senior partner who were an inspiration to the younger women of the firm.
What advice would you give to female science and engineering graduates considering a career in IP? What do you wish someone had told you?
I would advise anyone considering a career in IP to get some form of work experience in order to understand exactly what this niche career entails. I wish someone had told me that you do not need a Master’s Degree or PhD to be a good patent attorney. Scientific expertise is only one of the many skills required. Indeed, communication and linguistic skills are also very important.
Find out more about current vacancies with Boult Wade Tennant here.