Day in the life of an associate

Julia Coggins


As part of the close-knit chemistry and biosciences team, and with a client list that spans the UK and Europe, patent attorney Julia Coggins has plenty of opportunities to share her IP expertise.


First thing’s first – emails. I turn on my computer to read through the messages that arrived overnight. If I don’t have a sudden deadline to deal with I head to the kitchen for a much-needed coffee.


Monday mornings we have our Chem-Bio team meeting. Not only do they give me the chance to hear about my colleagues’ cases, but we use them to share the workload when one person is especially swamped. I really like how our team works in that way.


Back to my desk and time to plan the rest of the day. I have a mix of clients, from companies we work with directly to overseas patent agents.

"Working with direct clients can see me drafting and prosecuting patent applications through to preparing freedom to operate opinions. And there are always IP queries to answer. So every day is varied."

One client has just acquired another company’s patent portfolio, so I have been arranging recording the transfer at various Patent Offices around the world. It’s nearly finished, so I need to prepare a letter this morning updating our client on the latest progress.


Next I begin working on a draft response to a European Examination Report. The Examiner raised lots of different objections to the claims and our client – an overseas agent – has given us her instructions for replying. I start working through them, amending the claims and preparing arguments against each objection.

As these instructions came from an overseas agent whose local patent laws are quite different, I discover it’s not possible to do everything the client wanted under European law. I deal with as many of the objections as I can, leaving just the inventive step objection. Before I tackle that, I’ll need some lunch.


After a break, it’s back to my emails. I run through them carefully to check whether there are any new, urgent deadlines or something that needs a swift reply – which happens often.


This time, there’s nothing that needs my attention right away. So I turn back to the Examination Report I was working on before lunch and start to prepare arguments for why the claims are inventive. This part of the response is tricky.

I need to take another, detailed look at the examples in the application then I write up my arguments and review it all. Once I’m happy, I begin drafting an email to the client, sending her the draft response and claims and explaining which parts are different to her instructing letter and why.

But I don’t hit ‘send’ just yet. I’ve got some time before the deadline and I want to give my draft response the overnight test – reading it one last time in the morning with fresh eyes. It means I can also run it past Paul, one of the firm’s partners, who may have something to add.


That complex response takes up most of my afternoon. So there isn’t time to start another big task. Instead, I run through the other things I want to get done this week. I spot a couple of quick jobs, including reporting back to a client on the prosecution of several of their patent applications abroad. There’s just enough of the day left for me to prepare a letter about this and pass the documents on to my secretary to send out. 


Some days a complex or urgent case sees me staying in the office until late. But today, when 5:30PM comes around, I manage to leave on time.