Are times a’ changing for Patent and Trade Mark Attorneys?
Phillipa Field gives her opinion.
It is no secret that patent attorneys with an electronics, and more recently engineering, background are the hot favourites for firms across the country (and have been the subject of many of our articles over the past few years for this very reason). I joined Fellows in May 2012 and even then it was flagged as an urgent need for most of our regular clients, training me to react a little quicker when a candidate with this particular technical specialism came into play. That is not to say that during this time there hasn’t been a flurry of activity for candidates of various other backgrounds, such as chemistry, biotechnology and trade marks, as we did manage a number of campaigns for clients during this time who were looking in these areas. However the nature of this activity would be best described as sporadic; the market for electronics has been enjoying a sustained peak for quite some time, whereas life sciences and trade marks has very much been stuck in a trough (with the odd spike in activity).
Although it has been difficult at times to source suitable candidates in electronics and engineering in particular, I would say that the dearth of talent has encouraged a number of positive changes in the way firms go about attracting potential applicants. These are the very same points I touched upon in my earlier Market Review in September of last year, but rather than simply noting a change in trend we are now actually seeing these as new paradigms. There is a flexibility in the level of the candidate firms will entertain, allowing us to widen the potential pool dramatically and look to those who may have originally been seen as too junior or senior. Relocation is also a possibility, with some firms even open to receiving (and employing) applicants from overseas. This has worked incredibly well for some of our clients with a number of candidates now happily settled in their new roles.
We have also seen a definite increase in brand investment with office moves indicating a desire to grow, firm (rather than specific role) advertisements in the CIPA Supplement and focus on more efficient and streamlined HR and support structures becoming the norm for many of our clients. We have spent a lot of time working closely with firms on producing additional material to supplement the standard job advertisement, helping educate potential candidates on what it is actually like to work within a particular firm, giving an alternative to the familiar well-rehearsed role descriptions we hear so often -‘variety of work, significant drafting and prosecution and exposure to contentious work’ anyone? Of course I hold my hands up and admit that we are guilty of using such language, but we also strive to include additional information unique to the firm, whether it is an information pack issued to interested applicants after an initial conversation or an interview with a Partner on our website. These additional efforts can indicate a firm’s investment in their growth and commitment to hire as opposed to simply making a throw away comment to a recruiter that they could be in the market for a new hire.
I mentioned earlier that activity in life sciences and trade marks has been relatively stagnant for some time, however recent instructions are leading us to believe that recruitment in chemistry and trade marks in particular are on the up, biotechnology unfortunately is still very much remaining at a fairly low level. We currently have active instructions for trade mark attorneys, ranging from part qualified to Senior Associate level, and needs for chemists who have recently passed the Queen Mary (or equivalent) up to those with two years’ post qualification experience. As with mechanical engineering as mentioned in my review last year, it is difficult to say whether current activity levels will develop into much more than just a blip on the IP recruiters’ radar but for the time being we’re very busy in this area.
Phillipa is a Consultant with Fellows and Associates and a minor Internet celebrity (she fronts up our YouTube channel).<< Back
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