Patent attorneys are highly specialised members of the legal profession who are qualified to advise clients about how best to protect their ideas using patents, registered designs and other forms of intellectual property (IP). Patent attorneys also advise clients on a range of other IP matters including the licensing of IP and the potential infringement of IP owned by third parties.

The role of a patent attorney represents a unique combination of science and law. In order to train as a patent attorney, you will need a STEM degree. However, no prior legal experience is necessary before joining the profession.

Other qualities that it is important for a patent attorney to possess include:

  • excellent verbal and written communication skills;
  • strong organisational and time management skills;
  • an ability to conceptualise complex matters;
  • an analytical and problem-solving mindset;
  • an eye for detail; and
  • commercial acumen.

The career of a patent attorney is a very rewarding one, which is ever-changing in line with the latest developments in science and technology. It’s a demanding role; in order to succeed, a firm will need to make a significant investment in your training and, even with that, you’ll need to put in a lot of hard work.

Why Swindell & Pearson?

Swindell & Pearson is one of the UK’s leading specialists in intellectual property; some of the world’s top innovators trust our attorneys with their patent, trade mark and design portfolios. We have been climbing the Legal 500 rankings and our attorneys have been personally recommended by their clients.

The core values of our firm are delivering high-quality service and exceptional client care. Our attorneys achieve this by building lasting relationships with the firm’s clients. In order to continue developing the next generation of world-class attorneys, we believe not only in attracting the most talented trainees, but in investing in their future with our fee earner development programme.

Our fee earner development programme

Our firm has a long history of providing the training that is required to not only qualify as a patent attorney, but to become a leader in the profession. Our fee earner development programme aligns our aims as a firm with our trainees’ ambition, ensuring that we support them in becoming well-rounded attorneys who begin contributing to our clients’ success as soon as possible.

Practical learning is the key focus of our programme; from day one our trainees work on real cases, instantly starting to develop the key skills required to become an effective attorney. Trainees typically receive daily one-to-one training with their supervisor who will be one of the firm’s senior and most experienced attorneys. The close-knit nature of the firm also means that trainee and newly qualified attorneys have a large team of additional mentors to help support them throughout their career.

The supervision system is supported by a formal, structured 12-month programme of weekly seminars. Part of this programme is a 4-month patent drafting course which was developed by one of our most experienced attorneys and which has been used to successfully teach our trainees for over fifteen years. As well as exploring key legal and technical skills, our weekly seminars cover topics that we recognise as being important to trainees’ overall development, such as client care, time management and communication skills.

Our trainees typically qualify as both UK and European patent attorneys, taking a set of foundation and final exams for each region, normally over a period of four or five years. We provide a range of resources to aid trainees with their studies, including tailored revision sessions, an extensive in-house library and support for attending off-site revision courses. However, most trainees say the practical experience they gain from working on cases is the best preparation for these exams. Read Tom's example of a day in the life of a trainee at S&P.

Many of our senior attorneys have gone through this development programme themselves. For example, Christine started as a trainee in 2003 having obtained a master’s degree in physics from the University of Cambridge; she is now an IP director. Read Christine’s insights into working as a patent attorney at S&P.

Employee insights

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