Swindell & Pearson: Meet the Team
Fellows and Associates are pleased to be working with leading East Midlands based firm Swindell & Pearson on the appointment of a Director or Partner Designate. The role offers excellent scope for career advancement, with the opportunity to achieve equity within two years. In support of our advertising campaign we have prepared a series of insights into life at Swindell & Pearson, as experienced by members of their current team.
In the final edition of our series we speak to Tim Gilbert, a patent advisor in the high-tech and engineering team. The successful candidate will become the latest member of this team, and will have the opportunity to work across a diverse range of technologies spanning across the physics, engineering and electronics fields. Although there will be an established portfolio of work waiting for the new recruit, there will also be substantial support given in order for them to build their practice to reflect their own strengths and interests.
Tim Gilbert, Associate
What first motivated you to become a patent attorney?
I was putting on a recruitment event at university to which alumni of the university were invited, one of whom was a partner at a firm of patent and trade mark attorneys. They told me about the profession, which I knew nothing about at the time. It sounded like the type of career that would really suit my personality so I looked into it, did some work experience and applied for a job. Swindell & Pearson was one of three places I applied to.
What was it about Swindell & Pearson that made you want to join them?
Swindell & Pearson is a mid-sized firm with clients ranging from very small businesses to multinationals, so I knew that I would have opportunities to work on a diverse range of cases and benefit from the support and expertise of a close-knit team. The firm also has such a supportive, collegiate working culture where we are positively reinforced to contribute to the firm. For example, the firm is not hierarchical and rewards for good work are not held back on account of seniority or qualification. It seemed like I would really fit in here. I did see some other firms and they did have their merits, however I felt like Swindell & Pearson would be the best fit for me in terms of working environment. It is really open and clear and if you do a good job then you are rewarded well.
What kind of training and support have you received?
The training scheme for new or part-qualified attorneys is excellent. For more details, I have written a short account of my experiences on our website (Employee Insights). I know that some graduates at other firms do get a lot less contact with their supervisors so I feel pretty lucky.
What would a typical working day look like?
I am generally at my most productive in the morning so I try to ignore my emails if I can and concentrate on my more time pressured work. Normally by lunchtime I can then focus on my smaller jobs and spend time with another trainee who I am currently mentoring. Every trainee is paired with a more experienced trainee so that they can ‘learn whilst doing’. It’s great for the both of us because we can talk through concepts and look up things together if it’s something that I’m also unfamiliar with.
What type of technologies and client mix do you have?
It has changed over time. I started off working solely with Nokia, and then when Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) came on board as a client I was the first, alongside another member of the team, to go on secondment there. I was there for seven months, three days a week, which was a great experience to learn how things operate internally at a client. Since then my workload has been evenly split between Nokia and JLR, until recently when I have had some success converting individuals and SMEs into clients of my own.
How much influence do you feel you have in developing your own career?
I feel like I have a lot of control. We have individual business development plans in place where we are able to pursue technologies of interest and develop pipelines in these areas. For example, for me it’s rail, which is what my PhD background is in, as well as engineering which is an area I’m very keen on. As a result, I find I’m doing business development that I find enjoyable.
What type of business development activities do you get involved with?
I usually attend events, as well as answering a few new client enquiries. I’ve also pitched to potential university clients alongside one of the directors. I’m currently covering the university team whilst a director is on maternity leave and am responsible for coming up with a lot of the ideas and strategies of how we handle this area of our client base.
Is there much collaboration between colleagues at different levels?
Very much so. I feel I can pick up the phone and call anyone in the team if I need to. It is expected that I’ll chat with someone more at my level first, but if it’s something that I feel a director needs to be consulted on then I am made to feel comfortable with doing so.
What do you enjoy about being a patent attorney?
I really like the process of ‘crafting’ an amendment and argumentation to maximise the client’s chances of success while minimising the risks. I also take every opportunity to work on multiple applications in very specific technology areas, so that I can build up a thorough understanding of the client’s commercial landscape and can speak their ‘language’.
What exposure have you had to national and international networking/industry events?
Earlier in my career I attended a wide variety of different events with other members of the team, however now I have a lot more focus on which events I attend. There is freedom to attend any event you see fit, however there does need to be some sort of business plan to support it. I went to a large residential conference where patent attorneys were welcome and there were plenty of opportunities to mix with potential new clients. I also attended an international London exhibition where we gained a number of referrals, resulting in some successful new relationships.
What would be a career highlight for you?
A major aspect of my job is work in which we are the ‘managing associate’. This means we seek instructions directly from the client, rather than receiving instructions from another firm of patent attorneys. There was an exciting technology I became involved with quite soon after joining Swindell & Pearson where I took control of around five patent families, for which we are managing associates. As of a few weeks ago the last of the US cases was allowed with the desired scope of protection, resulting in five granted US patents. I’m hopeful that the other applications in the families will be granted very soon as a result. It’s great to have had such a significant impact on protecting an entire technology and all of its valuable implementations worldwide.
For more information on the position being recruited please see the job advertisement.
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