Like many patent attorneys from an engineering background, it wasn’t my dream when growing up to enter a career in intellectual property law (IP). I sort of stumbled into it. While studying in university, I heard about IP law from a friend and a few months later saw a job advertised and thought I should go for it. 20 years later, here I am!
One of the things to be clear about when looking at a career in IP is that you don’t need to have a legal degree. You can use the skills you have learnt in a field such as engineering, physics or life science, and apply them to IP. As an engineer, I’m still very involved in the technology side of things, which I love about engineering, but now I’m analysing the tech and framing it so as to get the best legal protection for the company I’m working with.
A couple of things stood out to me. One is the fact that the firm is growing rapidly and further expanding its work outside the UK – across the EU and beyond - where it already has a strong client base. With so much happening, it’s an exciting time to be at Secerna.
The other is the people. I have known Jason and Charlotte for many years and knew that it would be great to work with them again. The whole team here is brilliant; it’s great to have opportunities to work with everyone in the team and I know that I’m working with people I can trust.
I usually start the day by checking emails for anything that may have come in on decisions or from clients overnight.
I regularly talk with Patent Office Examiners to try and persuade them to grant a patent that gives my client the protection that they are looking for on their invention. A lot of this is done via email and video calls, so I spend a fair part of my day at the computer. It’s fantastically rewarding to overcome the objections that the examiners raise and see the client granted the patent that they deserve.
Often, a good part of my day is spent working with both potential and existing clients so I can get a full understanding of the product or invention that they are seeking protection for. You must get a full understanding of the business as well as the product. That way you can give the best advice and make sure that the patent application is written in such a way as to give them the protection that they need.
I sit on a number of committees, such as SACEPO on behalf of Business Europe, which meet regularly. On these, I represent the interests of clients and business users more broadly, and look to push their interests and make connections. These committees are fantastic for discussing the latest legal developments as a stakeholder.
I coach my son's football team, so quite a lot of the weekend is spent either running training sessions or travelling to and from matches. It’s fantastic to be involved with and see the enjoyment that he and his teammates get from playing.
Apart from that, I love to get out and cycle around the Wicklow hills. It’s a great place to clear the head, get some exercise and take in the scenery. I also play the guitar, so I’m always picking that up and practising.
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