Career QnA

Read about the career choices our mentors have made to become established biotech professionals. Each month, a new mentor will share their career journeys and advice for those wishing to follow in their footsteps.

Vincent Yip

Jessica Zhang - Monday, October 31, 2011

Vincent graduated from the University of British Columbia with a Bachelor of Science in Honours Microbiology and Immunology in 2004, and proceeded to complete his LLB, also at UBC. He is currently working at McCarthy Tétrault LLP, in the field of intellectual property law. He is a member of the Canadian Bar Association and the Law Society of British Columbia, and is also an affiliate member of the Intellectual Property Institute of Canada, as well as the Chair of the Intellectual Property and Technology Law Section of the Canadian Bar Association (BC Branch).

How did you get involved with McCarthy Tétrault LLP?

I worked as a summer student at McCarthy Tétrault LLP in 2007 (after second year of law school) and articled at the firm for one year. After articling at the firm, I was hired back as an associate in 2008 and have been practicing at the firm every since.

What do you enjoy the most about this job?

The most enjoyable parts about this job are:
1) Learning and understanding science and technology as part of my patent and intellectual property licensing practice
2) Piecing together the law around a legal issue and resolving it

Describe a typical day at work.

A typical day at work involves a lot of reading and writing of emails, participating on conference calls with clients or opposing counsel, drafting and reviewing various documents (license agreements, written arguments, office action responses), and discussing intellectual property law issues with other colleagues at the firm.  

Describe some of the biggest challenges that you faced at McCarthy Tétrault, and how you overcame them.

The biggest challenge since working at McCarthy Tétrault has to be passing the patent agent qualification examinations to become a qualified Canadian patent agent.  These exams have a very low passing rate, and it was a lot of work studying for them and working at the firm at the same time.  I spent a lot of time outside of work to study for the patent agent examinations and travelled to attend tutorials and exam preparation courses.  I also spoke to many people and got as many tips as I could from those who already passed the exams.

What attracted you to this profession and what is your inspiration?

I was attracted to the profession because of the opportunity to combine science and law as part of the patent practice. I really like science (life sciences in particular), and I wanted to make use of what I learned as part of my previous studies. I also wanted to work with life science companies to help them commercialize technology the companies have developed.
No one really inspired me to go to law school, but my brother flagged it for me as a potential career opportunity, and so I have to thank him for that.

Any tips or resources you would like to share with students who may be interested in following your footsteps?

If you are interested in pursuing a legal career, try to learn as much as you can about the legal profession first. Being a lawyer is quite different from being a doctor, dentist, pharmacist, or graduate school (typical options for an undergraduate student studying the life sciences), and law school is quite different from undergraduate studies in science. Speak to as many lawyers as you can and go to career fairs and other career events (including SBN events) where you can learn about the profession.
While I am interested in patent law, intellectual property law, and intellectual property licensing, a lawyer can actually practice in many different areas. I have friends who have science or engineering backgrounds and are lawyers, and they practice in a wide range of areas, such as aboriginal law, tax law, litigation, and corporate/commercial law. While you may think you want to work in a particular area of law after finishing law school, you might find something that you actually like that is completely unrelated to science!

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