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 Partner or Director Designate (Swindell and Pearson is a limited company. The successful candidate will be on track to become a Director and Shareholder of Swindell & Pearson Ltd. This is equivalent to an Equity Partner, if S&P were a partnership). 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 the current team.
This edition focuses on Ian Whiley, an Associate in the Hi-tech team.
Ian Whiley, Associate
What motivated you to become a patent attorney?
I did a PhD at Nottingham University, after already completing my undergraduate degree there. I concluded that, although I enjoyed the PhD, academia probably wasn’t for me moving forward. Towards the end of my PhD I started looking around for what I might do and a friend of mine, who was a year ahead of me in her PhD, had actually been considering a career as a patent attorney. She subsequently ended up taking a post-doctoral position in France around the same time I was coming to the end of my PhD, but she was still signed up to a number of industry mailing lists so forwarded me the job advert for Swindell & Pearson thinking it might be of interest. The role did sound of interest so I applied and it just went from there.
Did you apply to any other firms at the time?
No, this was the only place I applied.
What was it about the position at Swindell & Pearson that appealed?
I was already settled in this region and so I was looking for a job close by. I like the area; it’s a really nice place to live and is well located for travel to other parts of the UK.
What training and support have you received throughout your career?
The training is extremely dedicated and rigorous. A lot of time is spent in supporting the trainees and making sure that they operate with both a high level of ability and quality. We aim for consistent high quality and the team is really committed to providing the training and support in order to achieve this. It’s always been my opinion that, although it’s hard work, if you can get through the training at S&P you will end up being a very good patent attorney.
What would a typical working day look like?
I normally get here around 08:00, although the time I actually start work may vary depending on what I have on that day. I’ll focus on chargeable work in the morning and aim to do around four to five chargeable hours throughout the day in order to meet the targets that have been set out for me. The targets can be challenging, but they wouldn’t really be targets if they weren’t.
What range of technologies do you work with?
I do a lot of work for Nokia, but within that the portfolio of work can really be quite varied. I have also started doing work for Jaguar Land Rover and some other smaller clients, meaning my client base has really picked up over time. Although a lot of the areas are focused on those Nokia operate in, I’ve also had the opportunity to work across a wide range of technologies which complement my physics background including mechanical, electronics, software and so on. If there are particular technologies that of interest to you, then there’s nothing stopping you from pursuing work in these areas too.
What type of role do you play to your clients?
The vast majority of work that I do is prosecution, although it can be a lot more than simply taking and carrying out an instruction. Much of the time I am asked to perform a review and suggest the best way to proceed with a case. We are also asked to give our opinion on certain aspects of our clients’ portfolio from time to time, and I also complete a fair amount of drafting.
In terms of your career going forward, how much influence do you feel you have over it?
Swindell & Pearson are very open and honest about my future and encourage conversations about it, rather than viewing it as a taboo subject. I feel very able to start a discussion about my development and the team is interested in helping people progress. If someone is struggling they’ll make every effort to help them succeed, rather than trying to usher them out the door.
What do you enjoy about being a patent attorney?
The fact I am able to use my physics background every day without being in a research environment really appeals to me. It’s a varied career and I am able to witness quite interesting and innovative developments. You do need to have a certain temperament, given the fact that it is quite intense and studious at times, however it is one of very few careers where you can continue to use the skills learnt during your degree in a non-academic environment.
What exposure do you have to business development and networking events?
It’s generally up to me what sort of events I want to go to. We do have support to ensure that we attend events that are worthwhile, rather than simply attending for the sake of it. If the event warrants a significant cost then we have a process where it will be assessed, it’s not necessarily a ‘no’ and no event is off the table, it just needs to be relevant. There is definitely a lot of freedom.
Has there been a particular career highlight since working at Swindell & Pearson?
I had taken responsibility for a complicated patent family. The family had quite a number of cases in it and a complicated prosecution history. It was also particularly difficult because the reason for many of the decisions that had been made in the family had been lost as the person responsible for the work at the client’s end had changed a number of times.
There were a number of infringement targets associated with the family. I performed a detailed review of the family and infringement targets and worked with the client closely to consider the real potential value of the cases which resulted in a significant strategy change for the family and the client sought out to praise me for my work.
For more information on the position being recruited please see the job advertisement.
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