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Joanne Hopley is one of the partners in the Engineering Group at Keltie. With a PhD in nuclear structure physics, Jo has worked as a qualified attorney in the general physics and engineering fields for over two decades.


She believes that fostering good client relationships is key to providing the best advice and client service, and her recommendation in the Legal 500 confirms that. We speak to Jo to find out what she thinks makes a successful IP firm and why she believes clients have ranked Keltie as one of the leading patent law firms in Europe’s Leading Patent Law Firms 2023 Listings by the FT.


What do you think makes a successful IP firm?


I believe it is the personal approach, which takes patience. A good IP firm needs to care for the individuals they are dealing with as clients, as well as caring for their clients’ businesses. It is important to listen and learn about backgrounds and histories; where have clients come from, what constraints do they operate with and what are their ambitions? It isn’t always about ‘running the clock’ but investing time in understanding the canvas that a business is built on, and that includes its people.


There is no doubt that today’s successful law firms also need to be flexible to change working styles and service offerings for different commercial situations and budgets.

What qualities do good patent attorneys have?


Patent attorneys need to be technically curious with a good background understanding in their technical specialism. But a good patent attorney should be personable as well as technically capable, to be able to deal with the different personalities and intellects that come with inventorship. When faced with a new invention, you need humility to know you aren’t the expert in the field, but you need a level of intrigue to want to become one. A love of writing and playing with words is also important, as is an excellent commercial awareness.


A successful patent attorney firm will have a broad experience base across the firm, to foster good collaborative attorney working depending on client demands. And let’s not forget that a patent attorney needs to have a very good eye for detail.


What are the main challenges IP clients are experiencing right now, and how does Keltie help them?


Nowadays, the costs of IP for start-up or fledgling companies especially are hugely demanding. Here at Keltie we explore innovative solutions to address this. Building efficiencies into our processes ensures we can tailor our service to be cost-effective and adaptive to all budgets and styles of working. This applies when working with the largest global corporations too and the constraints that they increasingly work under. We have to adapt.


The process of patenting is extremely complex, and we aim to educate our clients through good personal connection and feedback sessions so that their decision-making around strategy is easier.


Why is it better to use a specialist IP law firm rather than a generic one?


The intricacies of patent prosecution and enforcement strategy are not learned overnight, nor are the nuances of crafting the most robust patent application.


Specialist IP law firms such as Keltie have decades of experience handling the widest range of technologies and IP situations. Many of us have worked elsewhere, including in innovation industries ourselves, and bring that fresh expertise to Keltie. We share good practice between us. We live and breathe patent drafting, prosecution, and enforcement every day, and have done so for many years and across many varied scenarios. This is not just a sideline for us and our clients really benefit from this specialist experience. It is akin to asking a plumber to fix your plumbing, as opposed to asking a general builder!


Why do you think Keltie has achieved four gold and two silver listings in the 2023 FT rankings?


This award is different from other types of award in that it is actually the clients who determine the rankings. As this is a client-rated award, it is not one that relies on us submitting a proposal about ourselves and how good we believe we are.

As this award is purely a result of excellent client feedback, we have achieved these listings through nothing other than great client service. For this reason the award above others makes us especially proud. But it comes through working together with great clients, not just for them, developing strong trust and understanding between us. I happen to believe we are easy for clients to get along with and this has led to many of our clients having long-standing relationships with us which have seen them through many phases of their evolution – and of the evolution of Keltie too. It’s a great team effort and a privilege to be a part of.


To find out more about working with us, contact your nearest office:

Continue reading about An interview with Joanne Hopley, Partner at Keltie
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