The Intellectual Property Regulation Board

Becoming an attorney

To become a patent or trade mark attorney, you will be required to have a relevant undergraduate or postgraduate qualification and complete a number of exams as part of a wider work-based training programme. You will need a degree.

To train as a patent attorney you are likely to have a scientific or technical background, this usually means a science or engineering degree from a university or similar institution. This is because you will need to understand at a fairly specialist level the technical details of the client’s idea.

The would-be attorney must have the ability to acquire, and enjoy exercising, legal skills of drafting, analysis and logical thought and have a good grasp of the English language. Many of these skills are obtained through a series of exams and on-the-job training.

Patents are becoming increasingly international, therefore knowledge of French, German and increasingly Japanese and Chinese, although not essential, is also highly valued.

Getting the necessary legal skills to be an attorney is usually by means of in-house training in an attorney’s office or in a companyin house legal department, supplemented by other studies.

Admission to either Register requires the passing of examinations and completion of a training period. Academic training is also available, particularly Certificate and Master’s courses in intellectual property run by Queen Mary, University of London; Bournemouth University and Brunel University.

It is usual for a person entering the profession to take four or five years to qualify.

We should add that the vast majority of candidates start by securing a training post with an attorney firm or a company in-house legal department. Very very few candidates fund the examinations themselves. The profession is small in comparison to solicitors and highly competitive and you are unlikely to improve your prospects of a training post by having passed any of the examinations.

There are  only some c2,725 attorneys on the registers at the moment. There are over 138,000 solicitors.

If you would like more information you can find it on our Pro site.