Day in the life of a trainee

Matthew Laffan


Inventions and international searches see trainee patent attorney and aeronautical specialist Matt Laffan collaborating with colleagues across the country – and around the globe.


Each day, I arrive in time to make myself a morning coffee before the day begins. Then I pick up where I left off yesterday. Right now, I’m reviewing an exam report for a case in China. So I need to draft instructions and amendments for the Chinese attorney who will be dealing with the national Patent Office there.

Once ready, I email the work over to Jim – the Partner overseeing this case – for review. Jim’s based in Bath and I’m in Cardiff, so we might talk it through over the phone. Or sometimes I’ll arrange to spend a day in the Bath office, if we need to go over it face-to-face.


It’s time for lunch, so I take a break for an hour.


As soon as I’m back at my desk, I check my ‘to do’ list. Some days that could include reviewing, reporting and responding to exam or search reports. Other days, I could be drafting new patent specifications, monitoring patents, or writing other kinds of reports – on Freedom to Operate, Patentability or IP audits.

"My day-to-day work sees me working with Partners in our Cardiff, Bath and London offices. Now that we’re using an electronic document management system, collaborating with colleagues across the country is easier than ever."

Deciding what to tackle first depends on its priority. Everything on my list has its own deadline, so that makes it fairly simple to plan my afternoon. Today, I need to report back to a client about a search report we’ve received for an international (PCT) application.


But I park that for a moment. I’m about to welcome a new client to the office, along with Rhys Williams, to talk about an invention – something that tends to happen every two weeks or so. We don’t have much background information for this one, so before the inventor arrives, I start getting to know his business online. 


After talking to the client about the IP support he needs for his invention, I run through my notes with Rhys. They’ll help when drafting the patent application, which we decide is the best course of action. I just need to wait for the inventor to send us some more detailed information and figures before I can get started. 


Although my days are varied, what happens at 3pm is always the same: I get an email from our document management system. It tells me about any case-related documents that need my attention. Since yesterday, I can see there’s a new search report and a note from WIPO about some replacement figures that need filing. So these go on my ‘to do’ list. 


Now I get started on the international search report that was top of my priority list before my afternoon meeting. The International Search Examiner has highlighted several relevant documents, feeling that only some of the claims are patentable. As I go through these, I discover that we may be able to get broader protection than the Examiner originally suggested.


Just before I leave the office, I save my search report notes into the document management system. That means when I return tomorrow, I’ll be ready to email the client with my search report. But for now, it’s time to go home.