“Patent attorney” is the only career where I think I can spot an obvious candidate.*
When a science or technology graduate or postgrad starts to pick me up on everything I say within five minutes of starting a careers appointment, correcting grammatical errors, pinning me down with “what exactly do you mean by saying …?”, I know I’m on to a sure-fire winner by casually suggesting, “Have you ever thought about patents?”
The various jobs associated with patents are all about protecting intellectual property rights, and are an interesting mixture of science & technology and law. To be a patent attorney, you need a science or technology degree first (not a law degree), and postgrads are particularly well thought of. You then normally find a job and start to study for your patent qualifications while you are working, although there are some postgrad courses which may be an entry point for some.
Pete Fellows, of Intellectual Property recruitment firm, Fellows and Associates, pointed me in the direction of a short video of Matt Dixon, a Partner with the Intellectual Property firm, Harrison Goddard Foote, answering questions about careers as a patent attorney.
I waited with baited breath, and yes, “pernickety” and “pedantic” were both words he uses to describe would-be patent attorneys. I would like to point out though, that they’re mostly pernickety and pedantic in a nice way (I do know some lovely patent attorneys), as they also have to be very good with clients.
This is what Matt’s got to say:
If some of the terminology is unfamiliar, you can also hear Matt’s explanations of key terms:
The Fellows and Associates site does have some other useful information for would-be patent attorneys (plus trademark attorneys, who don’t need a science background, and intellectual property lawyers, who go through the traditional law qualification route). I was particularly interested in Pete Fellows’ recent round up of what’s happening in the UK Intellectual Property sector.
As a firm, they don’t traditionally focus on recruiting graduates, but do have ads for part-qualified professionals.
* Careers Adviser Health Warning
Unfortunately, this is the only career I’ve found where I can “spot one a mile off”. Contrary to popular opinion, careers advisers don’t spend their time matching you to your ideal career, even though journalists do delight in damning the lousy careers teacher they had at school who said they should become a carpet fitter. In reality, any honest careers adviser will tell you that they don’t have some magical ability to predict what you will like – that’s up to you to decide.