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A comprehensive survey of more than 1,000 patent and trademark practitioners in-house counsel and IP law firms across 80 countries revealed what is needed for IP law firms and corporations—to work better together not only to drive efficiency, but also shared value creation and innovation.

 Conducted in partnership with ManagingIP magazine, our global survey, "Speaking a Common Language: the changing relationship between IP law firms, in-house IP and their technology providers,” offers clear insight into the challenges that exist between law firms and their clients.

What law firms need to change

Asked what they expect from a great law firm, companies big and small agreed that passive responses no longer suffice: They want their law firms to be proactive and strategic.

 “Outstanding service is when people suggest things you haven’t thought of. It’s about strategy: have you thought about this and that?” a law firm client said.

Responsiveness was a key term that repeatedly arose in interviews for this report. IP clients value responsiveness, often ranking it above other business issues such as range of services or geographical knowledge. The message is clear. Successful IP law firms of the future must better align themselves with the strategic IP challenges of their corporate clients and deliver the proactive services required to overcome them.

 Speaking a common language

There is one common challenge that law firms and clients do share: communication, or rather a lack of it. It ranked as the number one challenge for respondents overall. 

 “It’s very important to have clear communication between lawyer and client. We want them to speak a similar legal language”, a law firm respondent explained.

 For many of those interviewed, communication includes not just emails and telephone calls, but also face time. Among law firm respondents, “relationship with an individual partner” ranked as one the top three factors to consider when choosing an external IP firm.

Bridging the divide

Bigger corporate clients increasingly have their own sophisticated digital systems and expect their suppliers to have similar capabilities. Some big clients may also ask their advisers to support their docketing, searching, and billing systems, as along with internal compliance procedures.

 Today’s law firms need to adopt technology solutions and sync their own systems with their clients if they want to retain their business. Overall, the findings suggest that firms are not using IP management software as wisely as they could, because they lack a cohesive strategy for adopting and integrating software and technology.

To read more about the research findings, download the report.