Jessica Rosethorn – Interview
Jessica Rosethorn – Interview

What inspired you to study Civil Engineering at university?

I always loved being creative especially when it came to thinking about how buildings and infrastructure were designed. After a week’s work experience at an architecture firm, I knew I wanted to explore other paths which would bring in my strengths in physics and maths – civil engineering was the perfect fit.

What then led you to pursue a career in IP litigation?

Although I loved the academic challenge of my degree, I wanted a career which could combine my scientific and engineering interests with a more commercial focus. A friend of mine suggested I look at law. I jumped at the opportunity and got as much experience as possible, including a vacation scheme at a law firm in London.

This led me to a training contract during which I had a seat in the IP team. When I began that seat, we were two months away from a patent trial. I absolutely loved the energy of building up to trial, the teamwork required and getting to grips with the subject-matter of the dispute. After that experience, I was hooked.

How does your Civil Engineering degree complement your work as an IP litigator?

Being comfortable reviewing scientific papers and learning about new technologies is an obvious benefit of an engineering degree, but another benefit that I wasn’t anticipating comes from teamwork. Teamwork plays a critical role in an engineering degree, as it does in litigation. Being ready to jump into new teams at various stages of a project is a real skill that I developed during my degree and being able to transfer that to the litigation framework has been incredibly helpful.

How would you describe a typical day for an associate working at Powell Gilbert?

No two days are ever the same, which keeps the job interesting. I’m involved in several international coordination projects so often spend time liaising with local counsel across the world. My time is otherwise spent reading, drafting documents and correspondence, and attending meetings and calls with internal teams, local counsel, clients or experts. 

I split my time roughly equally between working at home and from the office. We have an enviable breakfast and snack selection in the office, so as well as the socialising perks, you never have a poorly fed office day.

What have you found to be the most challenging aspects of working as an IP lawyer?

Litigation can move fast so it can be hard to feel you are across all the arguments (both technical and legal) being run at a given time, particularly on a big case. However, the teams are always well resourced so it’s a case of keeping up team communication and trusting that, with experience, you will get there.

What technical areas have been the primary focus of your work at Powell Gilbert so far?

Since joining PG in September 2020, I have primarily been working on the Ocado litigation that is currently ongoing all about automated storage and retrieval systems.

If you could choose your “dream technology” to litigate, what would it be?

As a civil engineering graduate, I do love a tunnel. Something to do with tunnel boring machines would be fun as that would also bring in my robotics experience.

Do you have any advice for individuals with an engineering background who are considering a career in IP litigation?

Enjoy the non-conventional route it may take you to get to a career in IP litigation. The “systems thinking” approach you learn as an engineer stands you in great stead. I won’t bang on about teamwork or scientific literacy anymore, but they are incredibly transferable skills.

Can you share a memorable experience that stands out from your time at Powell Gilbert?

The PG retreat in July 2022 – watching Pete frantically complete an age-5-jigsaw faster than his competitors whilst the rest of the firm shouted encouragement from the sidelines (all in the grounds of a stunning chateau) was pretty surreal.

Which innovation do you think deserves particular recognition?

I have to say the internet. I don’t know where I would be without Google.


Tell us an intriguing fact about you.

I was once on BBC Radio Bristol and, instead of publicizing a youth theatre production, I ended up chatting with the host about how you could zoom your pet whilst on holiday.