Is now the best time to jump for biotechnology Patent Attorneys?
It’s been a good year so far for opportunities in biotechnology. Reflecting a similar trend across the profession we have noticed that there have been more positions for newly/recently qualified patent attorneys than at any other level. We have also seen a possible dip in new part qualified positions compared with the pre-pandemic period. We would put this down largely to Covid having an impact on training arrangements and a rapid increase in work meaning that firms had to recruit immediately productive resource.
As we head into the deepest (and record-breaking hottest!) part of the summer in private practice we’re finding opportunities at every level. What has been interesting over the last 6 months or so, is a definite increase in very experienced hires – both Senior Associate and Partners. Newly/recently qualified recruitment has remained steady and we’re finally seeing part qualified recruitment begin to pick up again. Demonstrating a solid financial footing for the firms is the fact that, most of the Partner and Senior Associate level recruitment we are involved with does not require a client following. Firms are keen to expand and need more hands to help with workloads, training and leadership. I think this will have a positive impact on earlier-career recruitment as firms are hiring at the top in order to build at the lower levels of the infrastructure.
In terms of geography jobs have been relatively evenly spread, as one might expect many of the positions have been in London but there has also been a flurry of activity in Cambridge, both the East and West Midlands and Manchester. For candidates considering a life away from London, salaries really don’t differ for Patent Attorneys across the UK, so you are likely to be financially better off as your cost of living will likely hopefully drop.
Private practices in the most part still prefer a hybrid working model although there is generally some fluidity between the number of days in the office (the average is probably three, but many firms are comfortable with two). Having said that we have recruited some fully remote positions in the last year but it is a little early to tell if this was a blip or a trend.
In-house positions are as unpredictable as ever – largely because departments are often relatively small, recruitment happens less frequently and is often replacing a leaver which is hard to anticipate. However, we have had an uptick in in-house opportunities in the last six months. At Fellows and Associates we think we weathered the pandemic well despite a very lean 2020 so part of the higher volumes of corporate work for us, could be a consequence of us winning more in-house work. However, we do feel that there have been more positions advertised in general over the last six months (across technical disciplines).
Should you move now? At Partner level, yes, we have opportunities that are rare and favourable. You could find that you are able to negotiate a much better set of circumstances for yourself at a new firm that simply will not happen at your current one. This also applies to Senior Associates. Associate level recruitment remains strong so it’s no better or worse a time to move than it has been for most of the year. Having said that many firms have recently gone through the pay review process so you may find that your salary is lower than some of your peers working for other firms. For part qualified candidates, things are definitely picking up. If you have struggled to move positions in the last year or so, it’s probably well worth trying again. If you have been thinking about moving then conditions seem increasingly favourable. Finally, for in-house opportunities, get in touch. Given the inconsistency of available positions it’s better that we know who you are and we are therefore ready for when a position crops up.
Here are a few examples of current requirements: