Monique Henson

Trainee Patent Attorney

"The formal training provided as part of the HLK Academy gave me a good grounding on everything I needed to know."

My journey

When I first came across trainee patent attorney roles, I assumed that careers in the legal sector were only accessible to those with a legal background, and assumed that I wasn’t qualified to apply. If only that was where the self-doubt ended. As I looked for vacancies, I realised that most of the vacancies available for physics graduates were focused around electronics and/or communications. My focus on “blue sky” physics in my degrees didn’t seem all that relevant.

My role

Now I’m in the role, I look back and realise I didn’t have anything to worry about. Although most of my work is focused on electronics and communications (and in particular, mobile communications), it is my ability to pick up new subjects quickly that matters much more than any particular piece of knowledge I learned in my degree. That in itself has turned out to be one of the aspects of the role that I enjoy the most. It’s incredibly satisfying to go from not knowing much about a particular piece of technology, to being able to put forward convincing arguments about how it works and why it is innovative in such a short space of time.

That self-doubt still crops up here and there, and it is sometimes difficult to believe the positive feedback and encouraging comments that I have received from colleagues over my own worries. That being said, I feel really lucky to be working at Haseltine Lake Kempner. I started out without any knowledge of intellectual property and the more formal training provided as part of the HLK Academy gave me a good grounding on everything I needed to know. It’s delivered by different attorneys each week, which also means that I got to know a cross-section of people from across the firm - people from different teams and at different points in their careers.

At the same time, I started working on cases from day one, working with an experienced partner in the tech team. Over time, I’ve started working with various other attorneys in my team too, which means I get to see a range of different styles and approaches. There’s a real focus on training here, which means that the focus for trainees is on developing your skills so that you’ll become a better attorney, rather than on billing time and simply passing exams.