Consultancy businesses survive on the quality of their insights and advice. Therefore every year consultants and advisers invest in re-inventing or creating new intellectual property ("IP").
Consultancy firms have special needs for the protection of their IP and legal position generally. Consultants share IP, a great deal of it is know-how. They share it with clients, employees, contractors and partners.
How do they stop going backwards when the people they work with seek to profit from unauthorised use of the IP? How can consultants protect their IP investment?
When people pull in the same direction to build IP a virtuous circle of trade is formed. This can reduce costs and turn-around times and standardise quality. Clients and others benefit.
When people pull in different directions the commercial architecture of arrangements may fall apart if not supported by legally enforceable documentation and process.
This is so for all types of consultancies - management consultants, chefs, programmers, online business developers, engineers, project managers, architects, human resources managers, fashion designers, accountants and even lawyers.
To protect and improve these professional services businesses our firm applies a meta process. We help them capitalise on their intellectual property backed by legal architecture. We've named our process Intellectual Property Legal Modelling.
In a nutshell we begin with a dialogue with a client and an exchange of information. This helps take an X-ray of the client business and involves conducting a diagnostic or needs assessment, often using questionnaires and an exchange of emails. It helps us understand how our client manages its business, its revenue streams, background and future plans and directions. This management and business information shapes our legal advice.
We follow this by adding legal muscle to the observed skeleton of the consultancy business. That can involve some or a mix of the five deliverables from our firm below.
IP identification, IP protection and IP ownership, eg for copyright materials and confidential information or involving a trade mark, design and patent registration
Use of proper brand architecture and a clear strategy for an IP commercialisation path
Implementation of proper records and documents management and use of IP notices
Preparation of in-house standard contracts to use, eg shareholder agreements, employment agreements, contractor agreements, and and client service level agreements - collectively these implement risk management and create a legally informed and managed business enterprise
Preparation of bespoke contracts, eg for collaborations and alliances.
As lawyers and consultants ourselves, our core business involves resolution of the legal needs of consultancy businesses. There's a central line of enquiry for the above five steps.
Review what the consultancy business has as assets
How it acquires those assets
How it goes about labelling them for IP protection
How it contracts or shares them with clients and others
The process of the consultancy business for making and assessing business proposals and populating them with practical documentation
Its in-house standard contracts documentation reflecting the foregoing.
For a consultancy firm the end result is securing its revenue stream through IP strategy, business management, contractual arrangements and related documentation and IP protection.
We can help a client when it does not have all of this. We handled a project successfully a couple of years ago for an assessor in the insurance sector. Our very successful consultancy client reviewed customer data and then modelled it into uniquely formatted reports which helped reduce the insurance quotes received by its customers. We wrote one demand letter for our client to share with on of those customers, it stopped it copying our client's proprietary formats which had become an industry standard. Our client had been actively and cleverly developing unique IP and it did this well. Our job was to simply frame that for an effective letter of demand. It worked.
Not everyone can be that fortunate when they have not obtained prior legal advice to architect their circumstances.
It is remarkable how often the work that comes to us is a result of a legal claim or letter of demand. People often only see light after a fire has started in their house. It can be too late to save the house.
It is usually cheaper and more effective to build fire proof structures in advance to avoid the ruinous consequences of having your business legally exposed to those it works with.