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A patent secretary is a type of legal assistant who works with lawyers and patent agents to address lawsuits or other legal issues concerning patents. A patent is essentially a legal guarantee of ownership of an idea, concept, or invention for a set period of time that is granted to a person or entity credited with the creation or invention of that idea. A patent secretary may work in a law office, filing or otherwise organizing various patents and addressing lawsuits, legal claims, or disputes as an assistant to a patent lawyer or other patent professional.
In most cases, the job of the patent secretary is mostly clerical. Organization, filing, submitting paperwork, drawing up documents, and addressing other needs as they relate to patent law will often fall on the shoulders of the patent secretary. Training is available for this job, and many secretaries who start at lower level positions can take part in on the job training or post-secondary education to learn the skills necessary to be successful in the field. A good patent secretary will have a basic understanding of patent law and legal processes as they pertain to patent issues, and he or she will be able to learn new skills in both a clerical setting and in regards to patent law.
Organization skills are vital to a patent secretary's job, as are communication skills and proofreading skills. He or she will deal with complex documents, and the secretary will be responsible for organizing and otherwise maintaining files and paperwork. Lawyers or paralegals may also rely on the secretary to perform proofreading duties, dictation, typing, and data entry. The secretary will often need to make phone calls, have face-to-face interactions with clients or other law firms, and otherwise interact with a variety of different professionals throughout the legal system.
This mid-level position often requires a candidate to have several years of experience as a secretary, preferably in a patent law setting. A high school education is required, and some post-secondary training will also likely be required. An associate's degree may not be required, but it is often desirable, as is relevant work experience. Training in various computer programs, word processing, and communications skills are also often required or preferred by employers. No formal law training is necessary, though a secretary can take basic civics courses or other relevant courses that will prepare him or her for a job in the field.