Last week we began a new series of articles and interviews in our Women in IP Network focused on different ways of working in the profession. We began with an interview with Louisa Fielding, a trade mark attorney who works as a freelance consultant.
Fielding used to work at a large London-based firm before she launched her own business. But as well as working under her own name, Louisa also works with a number of new networks that have been set up to match businesses in need of an attorney with freelance professionals in search of short-term assignments.
One of the networks she works with is K2, created by lawyers at Keltie. It gives her access to a back office and records system, assistance with marketing, and a network of patent and trade mark attorneys she can check in with, put together pitches with, and share know-how with.
The obvious upside for Fielding is flexibility: she can choose when to work and what work she wants to do. She may not be as accessible to her clients as a team of attorneys working at a large firm, but using a freelance consultant offers them other advantages. Without the need to service a smart city-centre office her rates are invariably cheaper than those of her salaried peers. She can also work in-house on temporary assignments without the client feeling like the joint is being cased by a seconded lawyer looking to win more work for his or her employers.
The interview made me think about whether these types of working relationships represent the future for the IP legal profession. A number of law firm partners have told me that fewer lawyers are willing to work the kind of hours or make the kinds of commitments they did just 20 years ago. Following the financial crisis, when many firms shrank and lawyers were let go, IP professionals realised that loyalty didn’t always run both ways. As Fielding told me, more of them want to set up on their own and take more control over the way they work. Factor in the potential cost savings for clients, and this could change the market for IP professionals.
But what other working practices and new services could disrupt the way that businesses seek legal advice on IP, or IP prosecution services? At Managing IP we want to find some of the cutting-edge developments that are shaping the future of the profession. Do let us know if you think the way you or your business works fits that description.
You can find out more about Managing IP’s Women in IP Network here.