Your new firm was only founded three years ago but it has doubled in size every year and has numbers of granted patents, international filings and clientele that larger firms would envy. What is the secret to its rapid success?
It is no secret. I set out to create a new type of firm that is focused on getting good results for clients – this is in the firm’s DNA. The team that I have is diverse, but they share a common trait; they are positive, experienced people who value results over process. For example, last week we met as a firm and we did not discuss hours or policies. Instead, someone mentioned that the CEO of a multinational had spontaneously sent us a happy GIF because they were so pleased with what we had achieved for them.
How do you create a unique firm culture that celebrates employees and encourages them to achieve the best results?
I wish I had appreciated sooner the importance of culture. If you build an organisation with an infrastructure dedicated to ensuring that every person records seven hours a day and is alert to revenue opportunities, then it may generate decent revenue. However, that does not always lead to – in fact, it often leads away from – happy clients, self-motivated creative teams or rapid patent grants with few interactions. Having a founding principle, not just one of a long list of targets and metrics, based on achieving great outcomes and having clients that are genuinely pleased drives all that we do. Culture is what happens when you are not looking – you cannot measure quality and inspiration effectively even if you tried.
How do you achieve such a philosophy in practice?
In a nutshell, our model ensures that genuinely experienced people with the right skillsets can afford to spend significantly more time on the nuances of each matter. They can try to achieve a great outcome rather than churning out something mediocre in order to meet production targets. Clients will not complain about a lack of inspiration, but everyone pores over the hours billed. This is where culture comes in. We deliver great work because we want to. Technology and structure help us get there at a cost that often pleasantly surprises clients.
What impact does this have on the firm and clients’ finances, particularly amid strong economic headwinds?
Clients often believe that junior lawyers with lower headline rates are cheaper. An experienced person spotting a clever commercial path forward in 30 minutes costs a lot less than a trainee spending several hours on the same thing, just for their work to be rewritten by an associate and signed off by a partner. Technology has evolved, particularly in the last few years, so matters can be efficiently docketed, curated and handed to an expert with everything they need at their fingertips from the outset. This means we can give our experts all the information that they need to do a great job and let them enjoy doing it rather than downgrade the experts to expensive rubber stamps. We also work mostly virtually with functional - not lavish - offices. This facilitates substantial cost savings on things that are of no value to the client, so fees go much more proportionately towards real expertise.
Do you see AI replacing humans in this area?
We have developed cutting-edge AI that certainly helps with efficiency. It obliterates the substantial costs associated with support, base or management layers of the traditional pyramid and enables a smaller number of our human experts to do a greater volume of better-quality work.
However, there are things that creative and experienced humans do that AI currently cannot. Ensuring that a client’s commercial needs are properly understood and met (even if they go unexpressed) and handling complex cases creatively are, in my view, human skills. Sadly, these skills are often undervalued or underused. The traditional approach had many bright people essentially becoming machines with their heads down, focused on learning the rudiments through promotions based on hourly billing achievements. With great AI we have freed up bright creative humans to be artisans again and put soul into their work and a smile on other people’s faces! AI will replace the mundane, and empower - not displace - those who put creativity into adding true value.
Founder and CEO
Ilya Kazi founded IK-IP after 29 years of experience in private practice, much as a senior partner. He has extensive knowledge ranging from start-ups to multinationals, and from filing and strategy through portfolio management to opposition and litigation across a wide range of technologies. Mr Kazi has an MA in Natural Sciences from the University of Cambridge, and he is a European and UK patent attorney and qualified litigator before the English High Court and UPC.