Thursday, March 14, 2013

IP Systems for the new IP Practice

We are frequently approached by individual or teams of IP attorneys who have plans to start new boutique IP law firms. Usually they are spinning off from established firms to start their own businesses. We love these conversations because these individuals come with a vision of new ways to serve their corporate clients better and break free from the limitations of their current environment. They are eager to explore what’s possible with today’s IP practice management systems, both for immediate use and for future development of the practice.  

So what do they need to get started? What systems do they need to put in place before they open for business? Start with the obvious:  email, Word, spreadsheets etc  - mostly MS Office but we are seeing some interest in Google cloud-based tools; legal information services and IP databases – the usual suspects; payroll and HR services – always outsourced through one of the many online services.
This brings them to the key question of choosing an IP management system and the reason they call Anaqua and other vendors. The evaluation needs to balance multiple factors: the experience and preferences of the admin staff – key individuals for a new firm; productivity and economics – where can we save money by automating and what can we manage with tradition manual approaches?; differentiated client services – how can we win and keep client business with better services than other firms?

So the evaluation begins:
  •  A hosted solution – you have no IT staff
  •  Docketing – of course, your admin team needs to get its work done efficiently
  • Country rules, PTO forms and efiling – key to risk mitigation and more efficiency
  • Document and email management –Easy information access and full text search – great!
  • Annuity and renewal payment services – an opportunity to outsource the risks and complexities
  • Time and expense billing – maybe not immediately needed, but important to know it is there when the practice grows and we need it
  • Collaboration with foreign associates and other external contributors, whether onshore of offshore, now or in the future
  • Online client services – your clients expect it! Online access to status and portfolio reports. Uploading documents and other information. Online requests for patent drafting, trademark searches etc .

Cloud-based IP solutions with monthly rates make it seem easy to make short-term decisions you can revisit later when life is calmer, but the reality is that you will likely live with your IP system choice  for many years to come. All the more important to think about how you expect your practice to evolve and what you will need to offer your clients in the years ahead.

We’d enjoy that conversation with you – give us a call.