Here are the answers to a few of the questions we are often asked about our graduate trainee programme.
If you cannot find the information you are looking for here though, do get in touch by emailing our graduate recruitment team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What degree subject do I need?
The specific degree subjects we look for are outlined in the individual group sections on the About us page. Generally though, patent attorney trainees will need a science or engineering related degree. While trade mark attorney trainees can have a degree in any subject, a law or modern languages degree is probably most immediately helpful.
It's also important to mention that many of our graduate trainees also have postgraduate degrees, doctorates or industrial or post-doctoral research experience. This is by no means essential, but does show that our definition of "graduate" is much wider than many other organisations.
What particular skills do I need?
People skills are all important in this role. You will be advising clients both face-to-face and in writing, and you must be able to liaise and work with people at all levels of an organisation, from individual inventors to managing directors. A real passion for written English is also essential, with the ability to create concise, well defined and grammatically correct work. You should be a strong communicator too. At times you will need to explain, probe, discuss, argue and defend a position, but also make people like you and want to work with you!
I have a Maths degree – can I train as a patent attorney?
While your Maths degree does count as a technical degree in the sense that you would require only the shorter qualifying period for becoming a European Patent Attorney (three years instead of the six years for non-technical degree subjects), we will invariably require a degree in science or engineering - ideally as a first degree, but possibly as a second. Other patent firms may have different policies.
I have a PhD – do I have to complete all the exams?
Doctorates and other academic qualifications (unless in law) do not provide exemptions from the training process. A number of universities (Queen Mary, London and the University of Manchester for example) provide courses in IP Law which, if passed, gain an exemption from the foundation examinations. We generally prefer our trainees to go through the foundation examination system though. This route allows you to develop your skills at a variable pace, to suit your own individual circumstances.
I have been to QMUL – how should I apply?
While passing the QMUL MSc or Certificate in IP Law, or a similar course from another university, means that you are exempt from the foundation examinations, we will assess you as part of our graduate entry – in other words, against those applicants who will go through the foundation examinations. We may even suggest, or possibly require, that any successful applicants complete the foundation examinations as well. We feel that this gives a more practical basis to your career as an attorney.
I only have a third class degree – is it worth me applying?
Patent and trade mark work is intellectually demanding and we do generally prefer candidates with a good degree – a First or Upper Second. If you did not achieve that, other aspects of your CV will have to compensate, and you can expect to be questioned even more thoroughly on your academic ability and technical knowledge.
I cannot speak French or German – does this matter?
The ability to speak French or German is no longer essential for the European examinations. That said, knowledge of any foreign language is useful in a career as a patent attorney so it would be helpful if you already have abilities in either of these languages. German is particularly advantageous (see below) as we often visit Germany to conduct European Patent Office proceedings. We also provide German language lessons at our offices.
I can speak Norwegian, Spanish, Mandarin Chinese, Japanese and Arabic – is this an advantage?
While fluency in any foreign language may be useful, German is the most helpful European language for patent attorneys. Most hearings at the European Patent Office are held in Munich (although many are now also held in the Hague, and others occasionally in Berlin), and most non-English European Patent applications are in German rather than in French.