Haseltine Lake trainees give us the low-down: One year on…

10 October 2016

Grace Wood (GW), Nina Szamocki (NS) and Brett Landon (BL) all started at Haseltine Lake as Trainee Patent Attorneys in September 2015. One year on, we catch up with the Trainees to see how they are finding life here at Haseltine Lake.

Q. What area do you specialise in?

GW: My area of specialism lies in the Electronics and Communications industry.

NS: I’m part of the Energy, Environmental and Engineering team.

BL: I specialise in Electronics, Electrical, Software, Communications and Computing.

Q. What excites you most about your job?

GW: I get the amazing opportunity to meet with inventors, while they are in the early stages of production. This is really exciting because it gives us the chance to see the transition of an invention in its development stages, moving through to working prototype and then to the production of the final product. Being involved in the process, and assisting from a patent perspective is very exciting.

NS: For me, meeting professionals in various fields, and hearing about and understanding the latest developments in their area of technology is truly inspiring.

BL: The most exciting aspect of the job is picking up a new file that I have not worked on before. In general, the areas of technology I work across are very varied and I never know what type of invention I am going to come across when I start a new case. I enjoy spending time researching how an invention works, through analysing the patent application, researching the area of technology concerned and drawing from the knowledge I gained at university. 

Q. What is the most challenging area of your job, and why?

GW: When responding to examination reports it is necessary to assimilate the information from a number of documents in order to formulate the best path to take. Learning to understand and process a lot of information from many different sources, whilst developing a persuasive argument, can be quite difficult, but it’s always really interesting – and we’re learning all the time, so it’s great!

BL: Initially, I found that the most challenging part of the job was making the transition from being a student at university – where I felt relatively confident in my area of study – to working in the area of law which I had never studied and knew very little about. Although the knowledge I gained at university remains invaluable, and I use it almost every day, there is still a huge amount of legal training required in order for me to become a qualified patent attorney. Despite this, I am now enjoying the challenge of learning about the legal profession and the intricacies of intellectual property law.

Q. Why did you choose this career?

GW: After studying for a Masters, directed towards materials science, I realised that, while I wanted a career that had a technical aspect, I didn’t want to work in academia. For me, this career seemed an ideal alternative, as it allows me to keep in touch with a variety of new technologies, whilst giving me exposure to working directly with inventors. Another factor that attracted me is that even when you progress in the career and potentially move into a
more managerial position, I can still perform the core tasks, such as responding to examination reports and patent drafting, skills we started learning as trainees.

NS: I enjoy a lot of variety in my day to day job. There is some desk work involved, which is mentally stimulating and can be quite challenging and there is a quick turnover of work, so I might be working on different cases each day. I am also meeting with our Haseltine Lake clients and working on the more strategic side of patent filings for clients – which involves another set of skills.

BL: I enjoy learning about new technologies and figuring out how things work, which is why I was originally attracted to studying engineering at university. I chose a career as a patent attorney because it allows me to continue working with technology, in very different fields on a daily basis, and also includes a creative problem solving element, that is required when formulating arguments for the patentability of an invention when responding to an examination report.

Q. What are you looking forward to over the next 12 months?

GW: I’m really looking forward to working more closely with clients and developing my skills in patent drafting. It’s an exciting time for me, and I really look forward to my future with Haseltine Lake.

NS: I will be going on a secondment in the next few month, which I’m really looking forward to! I’ve also taken some exams, so I am hoping to have passed, and also having a patent granted which I have been working very hard on!

BL: I am looking forward to completing my first set of qualifying exams that I am currently preparing for and will be sitting in October. In terms of day to day work, I am looking forward to getting more involved with oral proceedings at the European Patent Office, and attending hearings in The Hague and Munich.

Q. What’s been the most valuable piece of advice you’ve been given?

NS: Ask lots of questions! There’s a lot to learn and there is no shame in not knowing it when you are a trainee.

BL: The most valuable piece of advice I was given was when I was going through the interview process for trainee positions – I was told to always find out who my training supervisor would be if I got the job, and to make sure we get along before accepting. This advice helped me in deciding where I wanted to train as a patent attorney.

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