Wednesday, 16 July 2008

Apprentice or Pupil?

As training within the IP profession gets ever more sohisticated, I have decided on a backward step and revert to the old fashioned apprentice model. ITMA are consulting the membership on a new compulsory course. I have trained in both ways. As a patent attorney I was "apprenticed" in the sense that I worked for a qualified attorney and gleaned what I could to pass the exams. The CIPA informals lectures and tutorials were helpful but not exactly a structured course of training. The success of this technique is down to the apprentice/master relationship and access to a variety of work and a willingness to put in the hours of research to find the answers. Fortunately my University
course had taught me the basics of research and even at school I had done a lot of self-teaching in science and maths. When I decided to qualify as a solicitor I did formal distance learning courses for the law "degree" part and reverted to the self-teaching for the "Finals".
In my opinion its the difference between active and passive learning. Passive taught courses seem to be the favored method today but I still think the enthusiastic apprentice can outperform his spoon-fed colleagues. If any reader would like to offer to share training opportunities or ways Solos can contrubute to the training of the next generation of IP practitioners, please comment..


  1. I think it has to a balance of both, as the level of training received from a mentor attorney seems to widely vary. Some attorneys are clearly deft at identifying and commuicating the key aspects but (as would be expected of non-qualified teachers) many are unable to convey that information in a useful manner. Without a certain level of pupil/taught training to fill in the gaps some trainees would be lost (through not fault of their own).

  2. Fair enough - but I want to emphasise the skill of the "lost" trainee to find an answer rather than remaining lost. Thats a skill you should learn at school or university. In a large firm trainees are in a good position to help each other. There is also usually someone at some level in a firm who is good at explaining and can be persuaded to lend a hand with a few clues.