It’s been a little while since we published an article on our website, mostly because it’s been pretty busy here, but it’s high time we addressed this. In what is a lazy but hopefully useful idea nonetheless, here is a summary of the opportunities that might be available to you at this point in time and some other ramblings.
1) What’s going on with patent attorneys?
I’m glad you asked and to make things easier I thought I’d split this into technical areas because that’s the kind of radical thinker that I am.
A) Yep, if you are a patent attorney with an electronics or physics background then we have a lot to talk about.
As you have probably seen in published advertising, a lot of vacancies are at around newly qualified level. However (and this is important) it really is very difficult to find people who are newly qualified and looking for a new position. Firms are in various stages of grief about this. There are definitely some in the denial and anger phase (the latter of which doesn’t lead to pleasant phone calls) but a good proportion have reached acceptance. This means that there is increased flexibility and practices will most certainly consider attorneys with limited experience (1 year and up in total) so you don’t have to wait to qualify before making the move. They will also consider candidates at the other end of the spectrum – senior associates and Partners. Over the last few years it has, quite often, been difficult to move at Partner level because firms had the workload but were too top heavy to accommodate a senior hire. That is changing and many more firms will consider this. The motivation could be desperation because the work continues to increase and they can’t find suitable newly qualified attorneys, or, because they have actively reorganised to make more opportunities available to bring in people who will share equity more quickly than they might have envisioned a few years back. These trends hold for all of the UK and not just London. Salaries outside of London are the same as those within, so with a lower cost of living you could be substantially better off.
B) Pretty much everything I’ve said above about electronics is true of engineering too.
There are slightly fewer vacancies but nonetheless firms will consider people who are just starting out all the way up to and including Partner, so opportunities abound.
C) Chemistry positions are doing okay
There aren’t quite so many opportunities for chemists and you will have an easier time of moving if you’re around 3 years into the profession to about 2 years’ post qualified – before/after that it gets a bit trickier. Firms will still consider people at senior associate and Partner level but there are simply less opportunities, so you need to be careful where you send your CV (which is where we come in).
D) Biotechnology positions are not abundant
As with all other areas there are opportunities around finalist/newly qualified level but unlike other areas there are far less opportunities beyond that. Unless your current position is intolerable (and you’re not recently qualified/about to qualify) we would recommend staying put and waiting for the climate to change a bit.
2) What about trade mark attorneys?
It’s doing okay, given the size of the trade mark attorney market there’s rarely a circumstance where there are loads and loads of vacancies but there has been a reasonably decent range of opportunities of late. Slightly against the broader trend, more of the opportunities have been at senior associate/Partner level.
3) But I want to work in house
Then you might get your wish but… most of the vacancies (that we’re aware of at least) have been for patent attorneys in engineering and/or electronics and have tended to be regionally based. Similar to the rest of the profession, most positions have been focused on newly/recently qualified level.
4) IP Solicitors?
There are some interesting developments with many of the UK’s patent and trade mark practices keen to boost their litigation offering. If you have a patent litigation background and want to work in a smaller environment where you’d be a much bigger fish then opportunities abound, but firms are also looking at trademark litigation experience and in some instances general IP experience as well.
5) Final thoughts
Relocation is a good idea. If you have been thinking about moving somewhere else in the UK then now is a good time to do it. We have opportunities in most major UK cities and the chance of career advancement is great. For example, one of our clients is interested in recruiting engineering, physics or electronics associates and can, as part of the deal, offer equity within two years. How’s that for fast tracking?
You don’t have to wait until you qualify to relocate however, in fact it won’t make a difference at all – there are plentiful part qualified vacancies in the regions and yes the training will be just as excellent, it’ll just be with a northern accent.
In general, it’s a decent time to move positions just before the holiday season, as we can get things wrapped up before June, you can have a tidy break, work your notice period and start a new position in the autumn. If you don’t start to look for another couple of months then it might get more problematic as recruitment can drop down the list of priorities for firms when everyone is away.
As ever, we’re happy to chat with you about this. If you would like an informal conversation to explore what your career options could be then we’d be happy to talk. You don’t have to commit to move now at all, we can simply talk through the options for when you do even if you think that’s years away.
Pete Fellows is the Managing Director of Fellows and Associates. That’s not all he is though, it would be kind of depressing if you could summarise an entire person in one sentence. Fortunately Pete likes other things like, er, pineapples. He likes pineapples. You can find him on Twitter @petefellows and on LinkedIn.<< Back
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