Life of a trainee

While your day-to-day duties may vary depending on the projects you are involved with, to give you an idea of what you can expect when you join us, Chris Anderson, Associate in the IT & Engineering team, looks back at his first year as a trainee at GJE.

“Starting simultaneously at the beginning and end of an average day, one of the most unconventional things about life as a trainee in the patent profession is just how conventional the working hours are for a job in the legal services sector.  The profession gives employees the opportunity to maintain a good work–life balance, with a just-before-nine start and a just-after-five finish being the norm rather than the exception for most trainees, meaning you do not have to forgo your hobbies and interests to pursue a career as a patent attorney.

During your first year, much of your professional time will be spent on patent prosecution work.  This typically involves reviewing patent applications to understand an invention, analysing written opinions produced by the patent office concerning the allowability of the patent application and devising arguments and strategies for persuading the patent office to grant a patent.

You can expect to work on cases from a diverse range of technology sectors right from the beginning.  For example, in my first year, I found myself working on inventions relating to banknote security, industrial packaging machinery, robotic vision systems and maternity wear.  Personally, I have found the diversity in the work I do to be one of the most engaging aspects of the job and have very much enjoyed learning more about a range of technologies I would never have been introduced to were it not for my career choice.

One of the most exciting and challenging things you can expect to be introduced to in your first year is drafting a new patent application.  Drafting work usually involves meeting a client to discuss their new invention to understand in great detail how it works, what advantages it has over known alternatives and what aspects of it are commercially valuable to the client.  Armed with this understanding, and under the close supervision of your supervising partner, you will draft a patent application, describing the invention in detail and establishing the protection the client might be afforded by an ultimately granted patent.

Other types of work I was able to get involved in in my first year included contentious work involving opposing parties, freedom to operate work for a client wishing to launch a new product, and patent monitoring work for a client wanting to keep abreast of developments in their competitor’s patent portfolio.

Turning to the social side of things, there are many opportunities to get to know your colleagues out of hours.  A social committee organises monthly events with some of the more recent highlights including a table football tournament, casino night and a boat party.  There are also summer softball games, infrequent trainee dinners and firm-sponsored drinks to name but a few of the additional social events you can expect to add to your calendar.”