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.

After studying mechanical engineering at university, I knew that the engineering profession didn’t best suit my abilities and so I started life in the patent profession working as a patent examiner at the UK Intellectual Property Office (UKIPO). I enjoyed assessing inventions and working with a variety of cutting-edge technologies in a legal setting.

After three years at the UKIPO, I wanted to challenge myself further in the world of IP. Having met a number of trainee patent attorneys from HLK on their visit to the UKIPO, I was struck by how much they seemed to enjoy their work and how friendly they were! I decided to pursue a career as a patent attorney and when applying for patent attorney firms, HLK was at the top of my list.

I joined the Engineering team in 2018. My work can typically include responding to a communication from the European Patent Office, drafting a patent application or corresponding with clients. We work for a wide variety of small to large, national and multinational clients and I enjoy encountering a wide variety of technology on a day-to-day basis. The work can sometimes be difficult but is always interesting, and there is a real focus on delivering the best for our clients. My supervisor routinely reviews my work and provides constructive feedback on how I can produce high quality work. There is a really supportive and collaborative atmosphere at the firm and everyone is happy to help and answer questions.

There is a lot to learn as a trainee patent attorney and HLK run an excellent in-house training programme, HLK Academy, for all new trainees in their first year. In the first few months, we received intensive tutorials for two days every week in the Bristol office, which provided everyone with a firm grounding in the key areas of patent law and practice and added helpful context to the daily work of a patent attorney. It also provided a great opportunity to get to know my fellow new trainees in the Bristol and London offices, as well as to learn from different attorneys around the firm. HLK also runs in-house tutorials, pays for you to attend external training courses and provides constant support throughout the training period to help prepare for UK and European qualification exams.

There is also a fun social aspect to life here; there are monthly drinks in the office and there is a boat trip in the summer. The trainees form a close-knit community and we often do fun activities outside of the office as well.

It is still early days in my career as a patent attorney and I am confident that HLK is the right place for me to develop and learn in a fascinating and dynamic profession.

While living in China I witnessed the widespread copying of international brand names and products, which sparked an interest in learning more about the influence of intellectual property law. The experience led me to opt for an intellectual property law module in the final year of my degree. I was keen to pursue a career where I could build on the skills and interests I acquired throughout my studies.

I was attracted to HLK’s Trainee Trade Mark Attorney Programme because of the training offered both in the workplace and alongside a peer group in the HLK Academy. The firm’s global presence and experience in helping UK businesses secure robust IP protection in China appealed to me because of the opportunity to work with clients and attorneys in other countries.

The firm acts for clients from a broad range of industries and I assist a number of Partners in the trade mark team. A typical week includes an interesting and diverse range of work:

  • Advising clients on their trade mark application and filing strategy.
  • Communicating with the UK and EU Intellectual Property Offices.
  • Liaising with foreign attorneys in relation to a clients’ trade mark matters abroad.
  • Negotiating with other parties in contentious trade mark matters.
  • Team meetings and case discussion to supplement learning.

Support from the Partners is always available. Other experienced team members also provide clarification and assistance. From day one I felt welcomed into the trade marks team. Everyone is communicative, approachable and friendly which creates a supportive environment.

To find out more, check out our articles

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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.

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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.

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Lisa Williams

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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