“Training to be a patent attorney provides me with an opportunity to look at the bigger picture in areas of growing technology.”
Everything you need to know
Every year a cohort of trainee attorneys start their IP career with us; we commit to ensuring that those who drive progress have their creativity protected and talent rewarded.
Your journey from graduate to attorney. Check out our guide on your traineeship with HLK.
I joined HLK’s Tech team in 2020 after completing a PhD in Physics. I have always enjoyed science and I was drawn to the variety of work and new challenges presented by a career in IP. Training to be a patent attorney provides me with an opportunity to look at the bigger picture in areas of growing technology.
A typical day for me involves responding to examination reports received from the European Patent Office by countering objections an examiner may have made to a patent application. I particularly enjoy the element of problem solving associated with this work. On top of this, all the inventions I encounter are different, which keeps things interesting. I find the work especially engaging because it isn’t just technology that develops over time, the law does too, and so the job itself is constantly evolving.
Having a background in science, I was initially apprehensive about the legal aspect of the job and the idea of having to sit law exams. However, HLK is a really supportive working environment. Despite starting the job during the pandemic and working from home throughout my first year, I have always felt welcomed, encouraged, and involved in the workplace. This was largely due to the HLK academy. HLK academy is in-house training which takes place twice a week during your first year of training, covering an introduction to IP law. These sessions gave me the opportunity to chat with my cohort and to learn from approachable, qualified attorneys within the firm. They also allowed me to develop a good grounding in the legal basics, which led to me feeling more confident carrying out my day-to-day work.
“The job of a patent attorney was appealing to me because it gives me insight into cutting-edge technologies and practical applications of law whilst still allowing me to use and maintain the Physics knowledge I have learnt.”
I joined HLK in 2022 as a part of the Tech team after completing a Masters degree in Physics. I chose a career as a patent attorney because I felt that it was the only career that suited me, particularly after considering (and subsequently rejecting) a lot of other, more ‘typical’ paths that Physics graduates follow. The job of a patent attorney was appealing to me because it gives me insight into cutting-edge technologies and practical applications of law whilst still allowing me to use and maintain the Physics knowledge I have learnt.
I chose HLK because of the value the firm places on training, and nowhere is this better demonstrated than in the HLK Academy. HLK understands the challenge that law exams can present for STEM graduates and therefore the academy provides two days of in-house, detailed tutorials that are a stabilising and encouraging feature of your week during your first few months at the firm.
I joined as a cohort of five trainee patent attorneys, spread across our Bristol and London offices. Along with the HLK Academy sessions, this gave me a great opportunity to visit the other offices, allowing me to meet and learn from colleagues from across the wider makeup of the firm. Being a part of HLK means being a member of a friendly, supportive environment that leaves plenty of time for social activities such as monthly office drinks and cake days.
A typical day at HLK involves me reading a patent application for a technology that I never knew existed and then drafting arguments to overcome an examiner’s objections. Within the HLK Tech team, the subject matter of the patent applications that I work on may range from telecommunications and satellite networks to medical therapy devices. Whilst the work can be technically challenging and is deadline-driven, there is a lot of satisfaction in delivering high quality work for your client and knowing that you are contributing to the development of new and fascinating technologies.
“The process of progressing through the steep learning curve has been made enjoyable by the enthusiasm, patience, and knowledge of the other attorneys in the engineering team, who are always keen to lend a hand, especially on any particularly tricky cases.”
I studied Mechanical Engineering at the University of Bristol. Although I really enjoyed my time studying, I wanted to explore professions outside of the typical “engineering” route. With that in mind, I attended a networking event for STEM students, where I had the fortune of meeting a patent attorney recruiter.
I was sold by the profession, which was explained (to me) to be a kind-of fusion between engineering and law, which could involve for example attending inventor meetings to help advise them on their IP rights, drafting patent specifications, and prosecuting cases to grant.
And this has certainly been my experience, in my day-to-day I work with a huge variety of technology, from satellite systems to micro-electromechanical sensors, prosthetic limbs and medical devices to vehicle propulsion. So far, I have drafted specifications, proposed responses in European and British prosecution cases, been an active member in inventor meetings, and generally gained exposure to the profession through a range of different tasks. The process of progressing through the steep learning curve has been made enjoyable by the enthusiasm, patience, and knowledge of the other attorneys in the engineering team, who are always keen to lend a hand, especially on any particularly tricky cases.
I chose HLK because of its friendly down-to-earth culture and dedicated approach to training, exemplified through the HLK academy. Within HLK there are patent attorneys, trademark attorneys, solicitors, even judges, and the HLK academy presents the opportunity to learn, in an intimate classroom setting, from that wealth of experience. I got to travel and learn alongside a fellow cohort of trainees, and the relationship that we built in training has become incredibly important, especially as exam stress mounts.
My experience has been that HLK has a great culture, which focusses on building trainee confidence, exposure to different areas of the law, and developing meaningful relationships with the colleagues around you, with the ultimate goal being to catalyse the training years and effectively forge trainees into competent attorneys.
To find out more, check out our articles
A Tour of the HLK Academy
Every year in September our new intake of bright-eyed trainee attorneys join us and start on their journey through to qualification and beyond. We do throw them in at the deep end somewhat – they start the HLK Academy during their first week with us. Our trainees come from all our offices across various teams and disciplines, and the Academy is a great way for them to get to know and collaborate with their cohorts who they will be starting their HLK journey alongside.
How Patent Attorneys Start their Career at HLK
We wanted to shine a light on how HLK support the transition from graduate to trainee attorney, and what it looks like at the beginning of a career that is generally less well known – a career as a patent attorney. This is a specialised legal profession, qualified to advise clients on patents and help them secure patents around the world.
A Journey From Trainee to Partner
I still remember the day in 2006 when I started out as a Trainee Patent Attorney like it was yesterday, and it has taken a lot of hard work to progress through the ranks. But, here I am in 2021 as a Partner of the firm, working alongside colleagues who were already Partners at the time I started as a trainee and who I have looked up to throughout my career.
First Year at HLK
HLK Academy is the in-house training programme coordinated and run by the senior attorneys and Partners here at HLK. It starts from the very first week of life as a trainee with an introduction to the firm and the Academy and how it will run, followed by an introduction to the key patent systems.
An Insight into Trainee Patent Exams
Most of those in the patent attorney profession find the career richly rewarding due to the wide variety of complex legal and technical issues involved in commercialising an invention. However, an unfortunate truth is that to enjoy such an interesting career, a series of exams need to be passed to qualify as a UK and European Patent attorney.
A Day in the Life of a Trainee Patent Attorney
Innovation is occurring all of the time, whether it be at start-ups, universities and their spin-out companies, or multinational corporations, which is reflected in the varied work that we do for our clients. As a result, the role of a trainee patent attorney is both an exciting and challenging one, which involves learning about new areas of technology on a daily basis.