By Jayne Durden ‑ October 20, 2016
There is a common misconception amongst paralegals and patent attorneys that automated processes threaten to replace the services they provide. With the introduction of new technology to streamline IP management and its processes, law firms have automated many functions - some of which will impact traditional roles - so the fears are not necessarily unfounded. In this first of a series of blogs, Jayne Durden looks at how technology is transforming the role of law firms, but not replacing it.
Lawyers of the future
Increased levels of automation, new technologies, and intelligent software – the future of IP management is finally catching up with law firms, but what does it all mean?
There are four key phases of IP management – creation, protection, management and optimisation – and new technology, automation, data availability and collaboration are all combining to shape a new opportunity for law firms in serving their clients.
Many law firms are already harnessing the power of information and analytics to make themselves more efficient, knowledgeable and profitable. Paralegals, patent attorneys and partners that embrace modern IP management software (IPMS) will inevitably do a much better job of securing and managing a client’s IP portfolio because IPMS solutions can improve data quality and integrity, help forecast and budget more accurately and optimise internal processes.
The advantage of new technology is the ability to transform law firm IP management from a reactive role - responding to client demands - to a more strategic position that creates opportunities to win additional business and serve clients better. Automated features attract clients, serve clients, grow clients and optimise practice. Everybody wins.
Keeping pace with new technology
In US Patent and Trademark Office data there are more than 800 different variants of ‘International Business Machines’ in patent grants, primarily caused by human error; using different phrasing or the inconsistent use of capital letters or spacing. With the availability of technologies like machine learning, human errors can be quickly eradicated. If technology can manage an IP portfolio “better” than humans – will lawyers be replaced by intelligent software? Absolutely not.
Deploying a degree of automation ensures that IP portfolios are reliably protected. Law firms can use software to reduce repetitive work with complex data and free up professionals to do things only people can do. Clients need lawyers to do what they are trained to do - provide strategic legal advice. Law firms that keep pace with new technology can use the tools available to them- such as big data analysis, machine learning and cloud computing - to transform their relationship with clients.
An exciting future ahead
The future will provide opportunities to introduce detailed analysis of client IP portfolios, competitor portfolios, and to provide strategic legal and business advice; What IP is most valuable? What trends are emerging in the industry? Are competitors issuing a high volume of patents? IP management is a valuable business process that can influence wider business strategy.
With a transformed IP management role, law firms can drive mergers and acquisitions, better prosecute patents and inspire business decisions. Law firms will be better positioned to monetise their legal skills, charging clients for high value consultancy and accumulating more billable hours. Technology will not replace law firms, but it will give them the opportunity to grow their client advisory role and increase their success.
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