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Niamh Crabtree in profile

Niamh Crabtree in profile

Team news Careers 22/12/2022

Role: Trainee patent attorney

Careers Section: Patents

Location: York

University: University of Durham

Degree: Mbiol in Biosciences


Why did you choose a job in this sector?

As I was going through university, I decided I did not want to continue doing lab work as a career. However, I loved the subject matter and wanted to continue to use my technical knowledge if possible. I came across intellectual property through careers fairs and research, and it seemed to be the perfect fit. I also loved the idea of the challenge of learning the law, which I had never done before.


How did you get your job at Secerna?

I started looking for patent firms and found out about Secerna on IP Careers as they were advertising a position on the site. Secerna was exactly what I wanted in terms of firm size and location, as I wanted to be in the north of England. With Secerna being a purely IP firm, I knew I would get a great breadth of work and experience with global companies, and good contact with qualified attorneys.


What would you like to achieve in the future?

In the near, future, I would like to start my Intellectual property exams and get that process moving along. Then I would like to become qualified to practice in both the UK and Europe. Ultimately, my goal is to be a confident and established patent attorney. 


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

My advice would be to do lots of research on intellectual property and fully immerse yourself in what the industry is like to work in. I found plenty of events and fairs to attend that gave me an overview of what was out there and what to expect. 

Open days are also a great way to experience what life is like in a firm. You can ask questions of people at various levels with the workplace setting and see what a day in the life of a patent attorney looks like. My experience is that everyone in the industry is very happy to help answer questions and give advice, so do not be afraid to approach people for information.


What is the most interesting project you have worked on (that you can talk about)?

I have been keeping a close eye on the unitary patent system that is due to start in early 2023. It will be very interesting to see how our clients are going to adapt their intellectual property strategy to utilise this new system.


What innovations or industry trends are you most interested in?

I am really fascinated by the production of recombinant proteins and their expression systems, specifically the different strategies that are utilised to optimise this process. This encompasses a broad range of innovations in the biotechnology industry, from the production of antibodies for disease treatment to the generation of hybrid proteins.


How would you sell being an IP Attorney to somebody?

I would say that no day, and no project, is ever the same. There are so many different cases in lots of different fields, which you are working on right from the beginning. This exposure to a variation of different intellectual property rights throughout different technical fields makes each day very interesting. I can honestly say I have never been bored!


Did you know about IP and being an IP Attorney all along or did you discover it later?

I was aware of intellectual property but not fully aware of what it was. Throughout my degree I became more aware of the importance of intellectual property, as it was mentioned in my university lectures and during research projects. I started to consider it as a career option upon visiting a careers fair and chatting to those currently working in the field, where I realised a career in intellectual property would allow me to pursue a career in which I could utilise my scientific knowledge outside of a laboratory setting.


What do you enjoy when not practising IP?

In my spare time, I love being outdoors and going for a nice long autumn walk to a good coffee shop!