Thursday 21 July 2011

Only Connect

The current issue of Internet Newsletter for Lawyers (July/August 2011) carries a feature on Connect2Law, the referral service for solicitors established ten years ago by Pannone LLP and the primary benefit of which -- as Delia Venables explains -- is "to offer member firms the ability to service their clients in areas of law they didn't undertake themselves by referring them to Pannone". There are now some 20 "hub" firms that replicate, in their respective geographical areas, the services offered by Pannone in North West England. Referring firms receive back from the hub firm a proportion of the fee of up to 10% and the protection of clients is underpinned by a no-poaching clause.

There's nothing on the Connect2Law website that indicates which areas of law are covered, though presumably soft intellectual property is likely to be covered even if highly specialist areas such as patent litigation may not be.

I was wondering whether readers of this weblog have any experience of Connect2Law and, if so, what they feel about it.

Friday 15 July 2011

Changing the Stationery

Logs being floated down the river to make paper for Lawyers
I thought it might be wise to be abreast of the Solicitor's Regulation Authority Outcomes Focused Regulation that comes into effect for firms regulated by the SRA on 6 October 2011. There is a whole new Code of Conduct that was approved only in June. I understood that the aim had been to avoid micro-management and a multitude of detailed rules. The Tag line is Freedom in Practice. From a marketing perspective, that sounds promising and liberating. Great stuff you might think for you and the consumer.

However when I see notices like this from The Law Society demanding that you change your stationery, you wonder if the message has truly got across. Presumably the outcome for a law firm's clients is that they can identify who they are dealing with - but why assume that legal practice requires pre-printed stationery and that firm's must change it. Is the outcome not achieved by adding the information in a signature block added during document creation. It does not need to be printed. Unfortunately the Outcome we are addressing here (Outcome 8.5 no less)  is not an "outcome" at all its a prescriptive rule that defines the wording. No freedom allowed.

For the small legal practice this new Handbook is an implementation nightmare. Fortunately the SRA are offering roadshows to get you abreast of the new regime. There is one in London on 6 September so book in. It's free and there is that lure of free CPD.

IP litigators: you are hereby consulted!

Are you an IP litigator in search of something to read? Have you any personal experience of the CIPA Higher Courts Qualification Regulations or the ITMA Trade Mark Litigator and Trade Mark Advocate Certificate Regulations that you're bursting to share? If so, the Intellectual Property Regulation Board (IPReg) Consultation on Replacement of the CIPA Higher Courts Qualification Regulations and the ITMA Trade Mark Litigator and Trade Mark Advocate Certificate Regulations may be just what you're looking for.

If you want to respond to the consultation document, you can email IPReg Chief Executive Ann Wright here. The consultation closes on 17 October 2011 after which the respective professional regulatory boards  will
consider responses, prepare a draft regulation and then issue a further consultation so that interested parties can comment on the wording of the draft regulation before it is finalised and submitted to the Legal Services Board for approval.

If you don't want to respond, read this document anyway.  It's short (15 sides, inclusive of the bits you don't need to read), well-written and devoid of the unnecessary artwork and acreage of white space that seems to accompany so many print-out-and-read documents emanating from the public sector. It also contains a useful potted history of IP litigation and representation over the past couple of decades or so.

Tuesday 5 July 2011

Come and see my mouse mats, or the Bribery Act is here

To avoid accusations of bribery,
law firms are advised to give generic
unbranded mouse mats this Xmas
If other readers of this weblog have had the same experiences as I have, they will have been deluged with circulars, advertisements and warnings of all shapes and sizes, all reminding them that the UK's Bribery Act will be/is/was brought into force and that this will be an apocolyptic acopalytic apuplectic important event in the lives of us all.

In all my years as an intellectual property consultant to major firms, and also in my "own" guise as a person who has given advice and assistance to individuals and impoverished but worthy organisations on matters of IP, I have never come into contact with traditional bribery or the more subliminal sort, such as corporate wining and dining, tickets to prestigious sporting events and so on.  I can however boast an almost unparalleled collection of corporate and law firm ball-point pens, mouse mats, still-unrecycled diaries and calendars and stress balls. Am I in receipt of bribes, I wonder?

On  a more serious note, if any reader has thoughts on the impact of this new legislation on the small and sole practitioner community, please will that person or persons share them.  There is positively no inducement for doing so, or reward for having done so ...