What are some of the biggest challenges that Brooks Kushman has had to face over the past 12 months, and how has the firm stepped up to meet them?
The biggest challenge we have faced has been maintaining internal personal engagement post-covid. Due to the pandemic, we moved to a hybrid-remote work environment – most attorneys and staff can now work from home and are encouraged to come into the office once a week. Our culture is one of the most important aspects of our firm. Remaining cohesive and staying connected are vital to our ongoing success.
Over the last year, we have continued to focus our attention on ensuring that all professionals stay connected as we move into a mostly remote work environment, by making investments in IT, firm outings, team-building activities and social gatherings.
How is the firm planning to recruit, mentor and retain the next generation of talent?
Our ability to recruit, educate and retain diverse, high-calibre professionals is the foundation of the firm’s longevity and success. We nurture an engaging culture and offer an inclusive environment that helps people to pursue their passions and perform at their best every day. We want Brooks Kushman to be the best law firm to work for, anywhere. When creativity, passion, and collective expertise of our diverse, mission-driven teams are engaged, great things happen. This is what is different about working with a law firm fuelled by client relationships.
We believe that to be a premier legal service provider and the go-to firm for clients, we must invest in our own people’s development. We manage this through several internal initiatives. We take every step to ensure that new attorneys feel confident in their new role by receiving every resource they need to succeed. We have a multidisciplinary approach that includes every practice and professional area at the firm, taking immense pride in providing a collaborative culture for our attorneys. By pairing lateral attorneys with mentors who share similar backgrounds and experiences, our new attorneys make connections with others on day one. The mentorship programme also provides them with a strong resource to ensure they start their career off successfully as soon as they begin at the firm.
We understand that our future is predicated on the development of our employees. To attract and develop future legal professionals, our recruiting efforts include engaging not only those in law school but throughout the educational track, from high school to graduate programmes. We also seek to nurture our existing legal professionals through a robust associate development programme that monitors growth and development and that provides regular guidance, training and feedback opportunities.
What are some of the biggest threats facing Brooks Kushman clients – and how is the firm helping clients navigate these?
Rising costs and uncertain economic pressures are the two main concerns that we hear from clients. When clients come to Brooks Kushman, they can expect a firm that understands and will assist with navigating through such challenges. We can provide alternative/fixed fee arrangements that are helpful to their business and offer seconded in-house roles and temporary staffing arrangements, to name a few. Working closely with our clients through challenges allows us to become an extension of their team and forge a stronger relationship, which is incredibly valuable to us.
Could you share Brooks Kushman’s approach to future proofing itself as a firm?
The firm operates under the philosophy that the most effective IP solutions come from putting great minds together; our clients’ and our own. Exceptional service is only possible by forging strong client relationships, which are the fuel for tenacious and innovative solutions to the most complex of problems. By staying true to this philosophy, we believe that we will always be able to provide the most outstanding service for our clients.
We also focus a lot of our efforts on running the firm with a corporate mentality. Our firm structure, which has general managerial oversight while also allowing various practice groups to run their departments, helps us accomplish this. Each department understands best what resources are needed to make informed business decisions such as assessing client needs, technology to streamline efforts, hiring considerations and succession planning.
What does inspiring leadership look like at Brooks Kushman, and how has this evolved over the past decade?
For almost 40 years, Brooks Kushman has been evolving and adapting to meet its changing needs and the needs of its clients. Our focus has always been on operational excellence in providing a high level of service, and our leadership structure allows us to accomplish this in a streamlined manner.
We took a big step over the last five years, moving to a more focused and streamlined corporate culture through the institution of a five-member executive committee. This was monumental for the evolution of our firm. Diverse perspectives and experience also bring an essential quality to the workplace. As a firm, this is prioritised at all levels; a heavy focus is placed on bringing diversity into leadership and ensuring equal access to opportunities firmwide.
We are very excited about what the future holds for Brooks Kushman, having welcomed many new equity shareholders in the past few years who are young, aspiring professionals. This new class is committed to bringing new ideas and growth opportunities to further advance our firm in terms of recruitment, technology, associate development and client growth.
Diversity and inclusion are at the heart of Brooks Kushman – how much has this been driven by demand from clients and how much by the firm striking out by itself?
It is our responsibility to use our platform and resources to reflect the firm’s core values, as well as those in the local and legal communities. We strive to not only reap benefits of patronage from the communities we serve, but also to ensure that those we employ are representative of those communities. We want to leave the spaces we occupy better than we found them, invest in the betterment of the markets we serve including how it relates to diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI), improved education and combatting poverty and insecurity.
Recognising the need for change is essential to creating new paths. Over the last decade, Brooks Kushman’s leadership has been diligent in leading by example through transparency with community organisations, surveys and ongoing education. We believe things will only change with deliberate action from law firms to invest in training diverse professionals for leadership roles and providing them with high-visibility opportunities to exercise leadership. Through achieving Midsize Mansfield Certification Plus, we have committed to, and will continue working towards, fostering a diverse environment reflective of our community at every level within our firm, from new hires to firm leadership.
While we have been fortunate to be able to partner with so many wonderful clients on these initiatives, we also recognise the essential role that diverse perspectives and experiences bring to both our workplace and our ability to serve our clients. We are well-positioned to serve as change agents in our communities at large and take our role of leading by example seriously.
What use does the firm make of analytics and AI – and how has this changed over the past five years?
Those tasked with managing patent assets face myriad challenges when handling a sizable portfolio. The need to keep a competitively sized portfolio often runs counter to the desire to keep IP budgets under tight management. Further, gradually accruing patents also means rising annual maintenance fees. These costs can be offset by licensing wins, strategic defensive patent utilisation and even enforcement, but even identifying opportunities for such monetisation in a large portfolio can be cost-prohibitive.
At Brooks Kushman, we generate value for our clients with cutting-edge IP representation and AI-driven technology. Our analytics team leverages powerful analytics technology to assist clients in evaluating portfolios, minimising costs and obtaining strategic defensive information. By using newly available analytics data that identifies when patents and applications are being used as prior art, we are able to efficiently identify potential licensing targets to make data-driven recommendations.
How does the firm help practitioners stay on the cutting edge of legal and market developments?
In any organisation, the most crucial resource is its people. We believe that to be a premier legal service provider and the go-to firm for our clients, we must invest in the development of our people. We manage this through several different internal initiatives, including ongoing training and professional development of our attorneys and staff.
We strive to create a culture that promotes employee development and provides the tools necessary to fulfill their professional development and career goals. Our efforts focus on best practices in client service, cross-selling, networking and teamwork. Our goal is to foster an environment that educates professionals on critical skills needed to generate new business, develop stronger professional relationships and best serve our clients.
Training does not stop after the initial training programme is completed, as laws and processes are constantly evolving. Continuing legal education is valued here at Brooks Kushman. We provide attorneys with a variety of online subscriptions and training modules for professional development, allowing them to grow their practice within the fields they find most interesting. The firm also offers internal educational programmes to discuss new issues, procedures or rulings that impact our work and our clients.
What are some of Brooks Kushman’s proudest achievements from the past year?
This year, we were proud to be a part of the inaugural Midsize Mansfield Certification programme, achieving Certification Plus – the highest level of certification for our DEI progress. Going through this 18-month certification process has allowed us to take a few steps back to reassess our approach to fostering a firm culture. The Mansfield process has also presented us with the opportunity to adopt new principles that will reshape our firm, regarding how we can better cater to our clients’ needs and attract talent. This was a rewarding experience and we look forward to partnering with Mansfield and other firms to develop ways to create a stronger, more inclusive legal landscape.