What to Do Before Meeting an Intellectual Property Lawyer
Hiring a lawyer can be daunting. You’re trusting someone to draft or review documents thoroughly or handle an emotionally-charged situation with empathy and professionalism. Preparing for your first consultation with a lawyer is the best way to ensure the lawyer understands what you want. Getting your lawyer up to speed on your matter as efficiently as possible will allow them to get to the crux of the issues and provide you with advice more easily. However, preparation will also depend on your matter and the area of law which is relevant (and therefore the area of law in which your lawyer will specialise). In this article, we outline steps you should take before meeting with an intellectual property (IP) lawyer.
Your lawyer will need some background information about you and your situation. Be prepared with a description of the background of your matter. Include information such as a brief overview of your business, a timeline of events that ultimately led you to require legal assistance and your desired outcome.
Some law firms will send out a questionnaire to prospective clients, in order to streamline the process of collecting relevant information. This is a time-saving exercise, because it means your first meeting can be spent discussing the issues rather than explaining what those issues actually are.
Fill out any such questionnaire thoroughly but don’t stray from what the questions are asking of you - you’ll have a chance to expand further later on.
Conflicts of Interest
It’s important to make mention of the other parties involved in your case. This is to ensure your lawyer has not previously acted for other parties in your matter, which would create a conflict of interest. You should prepare a list of people who may be witnesses, defendants or interested parties in your matter to give to your lawyer.
It’s important to do this sooner rather than later. You don’t want to spend time and money engaging a lawyer, only to find out down the track that they cannot represent you.
Even if your lawyer doesn’t mention bringing documents to your consultation, you should take a copy of any relevant documentation. If there are a lot of documents, take some time to consider how to organise them in a logical order.
Are there some documents that are more important than others? You may like to organise your documents based on which are most relevant and which are secondary. If you have original documents, provide your lawyer with a copy but also take the original document in case verification is required.
Given the nature of IP, you may need to provide your IP lawyer with illustrations, prototypes, technical drawings, engineering drawings and detailed descriptions of your work.
If you are presenting something that requires technical understanding, think about how to best represent this. For example if you are mocking up an app that you would like to patent, but haven’t got a prototype yet, consider presenting the user interface with a series of images and explaining the functions as you go along.
Dates and Calendars
It’s a good idea to record important dates in relation to your applications, registrations, filings and priority dates. It’s useful to record this information in a calendar so you’re able to view the information in chronological order. This will assist your lawyer in understanding the timeline and identify important events.
For trade mark, patent or design registration, this is especially important.
A List of Questions
Prepare a list of questions to ask your lawyer. Most questions will probably relate to your matter but you might also want to think about the specific firm and lawyer you’ll be working with. Does the firm specialise in IP law? Has your lawyer assisted in similar cases?
Feeling confident you’ve made the right choice with your lawyer and establishing a rapport with them will go a long way to ensuring you get the best outcome.
Understanding Your Legal Team, Costs and Scope of Work
There are a number of questions to ask yourself when it comes to who’ll be working on your matter, what they’re charging and what they’ll do.
Will the lawyer be working as part of a team? Is there a more senior lawyer supervising the matter and how will the work be split? Some firms also offer the assistance of a project manager who will be your first point of contact and guides you through the process. Does the firm charge by the hour or have a fixed fee model? Is the invoice paid at the start of the matter, throughout the matter or at the end of the matter? Have you received a costs agreement that clearly explains costs (this will be an estimate of costs if the firm charges by the hour) and the scope of work involved for that price?
Being clear on who you’ll be working with and how much it’ll cost will allow you to assess from the outset whether the firm is a good fit and the matter is cost-efficient.
Engaging a lawyer is a big step for many businesses. You want to be reassured you’ve made the right choice and know who you’re working with, what they’ll do for you and how much it’ll cost. Prepare for your first meeting with an IP lawyer to ensure you get the most out of your time and their time (and therefore get the most value for money). Taking relevant documents, asking the right questions and building a relationship with your lawyer are all key steps to ensuring your matter runs smoothly and you get the best possible outcome.
If you need assistance on an IP matter, get in touch with LegalVision’s IP Lawyers on 1300 544 755 for a fixed-fee quote.