We get most of our professional access work from solicitors who do not specialize in intellectual property and technology law. We value their work and assist those solicitors in any way we can.
First, we try to keep them abreast with developments in intellectual property law that may affect their clients even before they instruct us by publishing updates on our IP and technology law website, in our newsletters and our CPD training courses. We call this service our “IP Academy”. Anyone who does not already receive those mailings and would like to do so should complete this form.
Secondly, we receive both transactional and dispute resolution drafting and advocacy work from them. Since the solicitor as well as his or her client is usually on a learning curve we find that we have to do more than would normally be expected of counsel. We explain the law and how it is likely to be applied in the case in hand. For instance, if letters of claim have to be sent we warn of actions of groundless threats and draw our clients’ attention to PD-Pre-Action Conduct and the Code of Practice for Pre-action Conduct in Intellectual Property Disputes. Often we have to settle the letter of complaint or response for our solicitor.
Thirdly, since the cost of litigation is likely to be crucial for most clients we offer estimates of our fees to trial at an early stage and specify the work that would be required of a solicitor so he or she can work out his or her own costs. We suggest options for the early resolution of the dispute such as expert determination in a domain name dispute and examiners’ opinions on validity and infringement. We also suggest options for funding the litigation such as after-the-event insurance.
Fourthly, we are able take on much of the donkey work of preparing for a hearing simply because we have done it so many times before. If, for example, the client needs a search order (formerly an Anton Piller) we have templates of the application notice, minute of order, supporting affidavits and other documents that can easily be adapted. We also have a panel of supervising solicitors and computer experts. Our chambers manager, Jill Hayfield, knows how to set up an early appointment and return day with the judge. Also, we have costings and risk analyses so that our solicitor and his client can make an informed decision at an early stage.
Fifthly, we try to be approachable and contactable at all times through a variety of media such as email, text, voice, instant messaging and Skype. We do not expect our instructions to be indexed and paginated neatly in ring binders and bound up with pink tape. We know how much time that takes and how much it adds to the cost of litigation. If our work comes in electronic form it is easily reachable. We can make our own Indexes and chronologies very quickly.
We like to refer back some of our public access work to solicitors who instruct us. If the work requires a thorough knowledge and experience of IP law or understanding of a new technology that usually means that we have to send it to a specialist but we can refer other work to general or commercial practitioners. Also, not all IP work requires specialist knowledge and if we have built up trust with a solicitor through working with him or her in the past or maybe CPD training we will be glad to add him or her to our network.