The Qualification Season 2017: Intellectual Property

April 15, 2017

As part of The Qualification Season a series of blogs by CapeClarke aimed at trainee solicitors looking to qualify in September 2017 we will give a brief overview of the market conditions affecting many of the core legal disciplines that trainee solicitors look to qualify into.

The next area of law for discussion is Intellectual Property.

The Current Market

The Intellectual Property (IP) market has been relatively buoyant over the past two to three years and continues to be a very popular niche area. As you may be aware there have been a number of team moves together with heavy duty lateral hires, at the senior end. Unfortunately this degree of movement does not always transfer to the NQ level.

The implications of Brexit will affect IP law somewhat disproportionately when compared to other areas of law.

As the IP division of Bird & Bird, one our London-based clients, confirms IP laws are harmonised to a large extent across Europe, and much of the UK legislative framework is currently made up of directly effective EU Regulations and Directives. Unless those Regulations and Directives are transposed into English law, a regulatory vacuum may be created. As such, there is the potential for a period of uncertainty. We are confident however that such a vacuum is commercially unlikely to occur.

Is this a good career option? 

The number of firms that have defined IP teams are limited (as opposed to be part of a wider commercial department); as such the number of junior roles that surface is always more limited. However, as there are fewer teams, there are also fewer specialists in this area. Therefore, whenever there is a role, there are fewer suitable candidates in the market. As such, career progression within IP does tend to be decent. There is also the ability to dual qualify as a trade mark attorney, which opens up even more doors.

An additional benefit in recent years has been the increased demand for in-house lawyers from the in-house sector. This demand will only continue to increase, further adding to the requirement for good quality IP lawyers.

September 2017 opportunities

Given the popularity of IP, the majority of internal NQ roles tend to filled by internal qualifiers. Historically, very few have been released to the outside market. That being said, last year (and in 2015) there were a couple and we anticipate the same this year.


If you have been thinking about a move or would just like some general advice about options in the market, please feel free to contact one of our dedicated consultants on 0113 2385965 or 0161 3000750.

CapeClarke is a leading niche legal recruitment consultancy operating across Leeds, Manchester, Sheffield, Newcastle, Liverpool and London. Please feel free to check out our priority legal vacancies by clicking here.  Please note these legal vacancies are only a small selection of those we have been instructed on, so please get in touch if you do not see a role which looks suitable.

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