Joanne Pham

Associate, Patent Attorney

"Since starting at Reddie & Grose, I have not stopped using my technical knowledge. Instead, I apply my technical knowledge in ways that may seem less traditional."

  • Location: London
  • University: University of Cambridge
  • Degree: MSci Natural Sciences (Materials Science)
  • Career sectors: Patents
  • Areas of specialism: Physics 

Why did you choose a job in this sector/profession?

I often get asked about how I found myself in the legal profession after graduating with a science degree. The profession is very technical and to become a qualified patent attorney, a science degree is either required, or strongly preferred. Since starting at Reddie & Grose, I have not stopped using my technical knowledge. Instead, I apply my technical knowledge in ways that may seem less traditional.

I first encountered Intellectual Property through a short course offered as part of my degree. At the time, I was not yet seriously thinking about my career prospects. However, I did know that I did not want to stay in academia and becoming a patent attorney would tick that box. 

When I eventually got round to it, I researched more about the profession and applied to attend an open day offered by one of the firms. At the open day, there was strong emphasis on how if you have a curiosity for ‘how things work’, then this could be the profession for you. Realising that I enjoy watching shows from ‘How It’s Made’ to cooking shows on how to make gourmet versions of childhood snacks, it became apparent that I do have such curiosity.  After a few years of being in the profession, I can now say that this is the profession for me

How did you get your job at Reddie & Grose?

I knew I wanted to work in London and for a medium to large sized firm and started applying from there. The application process at Reddie & Grose was straightforward and started off with an online application form. Thanks to that, it turns out that Reddie & Grose was the first firm that I applied to. 

The HR team at Reddie & Grose were very efficient and I quickly had a first interview lined up. On the day, I had to do a technical written task prior to the first interview with one of the firm’s Partners. Before I knew it, I had a second interview arranged. The second interview was more technical and the written task I previously completed formed the basis for discussion.

This was followed by coffee with some of the firm’s current trainees. Here, the tables turned and I became the one asking questions. The coffee was informal and I found out more about the ins and outs of working at Reddie & Grose. When the offer came around, I quickly accepted.

What are your main duties/ roles?

Each day at work is different for me. 

On a certain day, I may be talking to inventors to discuss a new invention before I sit down and draft a patent application directed at the new invention. On another day, I may be devising a patent prosecution strategy to overcome any hurdles that may present in the process of getting a patent application to grant. On a different day, I may be corresponding with patent attorneys in other countries as part of managing a multi-national corporation client’s patent portfolio.  My role does not end once a patent has been granted and I can find myself in opposition proceedings either defending my client’s patent or attacking their competitor’s patent. 

The variety in the types of work involved in this profession keeps it exciting. In addition, the combination of utilising my technical skills to understand and explain an invention and business skills to obtain appropriate patent protection for my client is a reason why I enjoy my job. 

Do you have any advice for anyone wanting to get into the industry?

I found the open days offered by some firms very informative and you should definitely try to attend one of these. The profession is deadline driven and you will need to be able to prioritise workload in this type of environment. The job involves a lot of reading and writing (some people would call patent attorneys professional letter writers), so be prepared.

With regards to advice on the application process, the job is technical and you need to be able to break down ‘how things work’ in a way that is clear and precise. Practice doing this with everyday objects. It is very competitive to get a trainee patent attorney role, so do apply to many firms and tailor your application to each firm. Good luck!

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