Are the skills required for an IP litigator different to those required for a transactional IP lawyer? And are the skills for the latter different to those required for an M&A lawyer? What has happened to the general commercial practitioner who can turn his or her hand to anything that comes through the door, of a contentious or non-contentious nature?
Recent posts on this blog have focussed on drafting techniques, but they are only a part of the overall skill set required by many lawyers who advise business clients (using the term “business” loosely to distinguish from consumers).
The skills and attributes that IP Draughts tries to help his junior colleagues develop include (some of these overlap, and in no particular order):
- A foundation of technical accuracy, developed by continuous learning. Our UCL course on IP Transactions, as well as the Oxford diploma course, helps to supports this long term objective.
- Drafting skills, in commercial contracts and more generally in legal documents including notes of advice.
- Clear and purposeful communication with clients and others. The purpose will vary, and in individual cases the communication may need a particular mix of (a) analysis of what is needed, (b) organisation of material, (c) helpfulness, including understanding how the intended reader processes information, (d) conciseness, (e) completeness and accuracy, (f) bullet-proofness, (g) advocacy, (h) directing or recommending, etc.
- Ethical conduct and regulatory compliance.
- Negotiating skills and tradecraft.
- Recognition of the different roles, character and temperaments of parties and understanding their needs and priorities.
- Risk management.
- Mutual cooperation in a supportive working environment.
- Self-motivation and motivation of others.
- Participation in the wider community of lawyers and clients, eg through writing, teaching, committee work.
- A passion for excellence in all of the above.
The skills for commercial litigators will overlap with the above list but include other items. IP Draughts sometimes gets involved at the margins of litigation, eg knowing how to select, instruct and manage a barrister, or how to write a letter before action, but rarely gets involved in the core activity, including working within the civil practice rules and directions.
Has IP Draughts missed anything important for a transactional IP lawyer?