POLSERVICE Patent and Trademark Attorneys Office
You serve on the management board at Polservice. What do you see as the main qualities needed by leaders in the law firm environment?
To be both a practising lawyer and a top manager in an organisation may appear challenging, but it is a challenge that can be met. When making business decisions that involve risk, you often need to forget that you are a lawyer. You also need to develop your communication skills – both internally with your team and outwardly with your clients and business partners – going beyond strict and cautious legal language. You should know how to delegate tasks and competences properly, encourage and stimulate team work, solve personal issues for team members and be open to various market nuances.
Given the breadth of service areas that the modern IP professional must cover, how can practitioners ensure that they remain at the forefront of industry developments?
Obviously, being an IP professional requires deep knowledge of all areas of IP law. Even if your professional duties are limited to brand protection (which is not the case for me), besides expertise in trademark law, you must know the nuances of design, copyright, unfair competition, consumer protection, data protection and contract law – even knowledge of patent law principles is an advantage. But legal expertise is not enough; you also need to know the basics of economic, marketing and technical sciences, and have various soft skills. To reach that level and remain at the forefront of the profession, you must keep up to date with industry developments. Being active in professional associations and on social media can be of great help.
You have been actively involved in a number of industry associations. In terms of professional development, why is such engagement important for law firm practitioners?
Besides the unquestionable advantages of networking with peers from around the globe and in terms of your firm’s business development, participation in professional associations can help to raise your visibility within the international IP community. I consider my involvement in these associations (both international and national) to be part of my professional education; there is no better source of knowledge for developments in IP law and business trends. You can even actively take part in these processes by helping to shape various policies, laws and practices, including those outside your jurisdiction. Then you can really feel that you are part of the IP community! Finally, my activities as chair of various committees and subcommittees over the years and as a board member at associations such as INTA and the AIPPI Polish Group have allowed me to develop my leadership skills, which I can apply at my firm.
What are the top qualities that clients should look for when seeking world-class trademark advisers?
In addition to deep expertise and rich experience in trademark law and practice, I would suggest responsiveness, communicativeness and approachability. It is important for clients to receive quick, comprehensive (although not necessarily long) and straightforward advice, which gets to the point without pulling the wool over their eyes. World-class trademark advisers know their clients and their businesses; thus, they can properly address a client’s needs and expectations, including when it comes to budget issues (where some degree of flexibility is essential). An individual’s visibility and respect from their peers is also an advantage, and reliable professional rankings may be helpful in this regard.
Finally, how different do you feel trademark practice will be in five years, and how best to prepare for the future now?
Some processes, especially those related to portfolio management, renewals and searches, will be more – if not entirely – automated. However, I believe that there will always be areas of trademark practice where the human factor is indispensable and cannot be replaced with machine tools, regardless of how intelligent they are. Instead of thinking about replacements, we should focus on making proper use of existing and future tools, treating them as something that makes life easier for us and our clients. Therefore, trademark professionals should monitor and test the technical novelties offered by outside vendors, but always with some degree of caution. We should be open to non-standard business arrangements, being aware of the fact that trademark practice is becoming less and less a legal business.