I want to know
where they work
What do they do?
Where do they work?
What do they earn?
How many are there?
What do I need to be one?
What’s the training?
How do I apply?
It may be the work of the lawyers and the examiners that clients are willing to pay fees for, but the ones who make the office run smoothly and who make it possible for those people to earn the money are the ‘IP administrators’, ‘paralegals’ and ‘formalities administrators’.
They provide the administrative and secretarial support without which the rest couldn’t happen. Without them the clients wouldn’t get a good customer service, the lawyers wouldn’t have the accurate information they need when they need it, and the schedules would grind to a standstill.
The paralegals’ work depends on who they’re working for – an attorney, a solicitor, a barrister – but their goal is always to help them spend as much time as possible on the technical work. Typically though, they’ll deal with emails, post and phone calls, routine tasks and reminders, typing up documents, completing forms, managing diaries and arranging meetings.
Obviously, it’s similar to similar work in other offices, but the atmosphere of a law firm can feel very high powered.
The world of IP depends heavily on office work, so office support staff might be in any organisation dealing in IP: a small or large law firm, a government department, the legal division of a multinational company.
The lawyers look to the paralegal staff to keep them organised, so you need to be a superstar time manager, a deadline duellist, a meticulous planner, eager to learn and to please.
To get a job, formal qualifications beyond GCSEs may not be needed (although they help), but office experience is useful, particularly if it’s been in a legal environment. Many law firms are happy to offer work experience.
Did you know?
The song ‘White Christmas’ was written by Irving Berlin in 1942. It is thought to be the world’s most valuable music copyright.
Training is mostly done on the job, but after 6 months to a year, you can take CIPA’s patent administrator’s course to add to your skills and qualifications to move up the ladder.
The work is as varied and so are the clients and many have important or interesting intellectual property that they want to protect or make money from.
It’s never easy to keep your boss organised, but that’s what the job involves.
Look out for vacancies on job websites in the local press or elsewhere or try approaching law firms to ask about vacancies and/or work experience.