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Why we invest in our employees’ IP Law education

by Cally Anne Sharman
13th September 2019

Intellectual Property Training

If you walk along the corridors of Equinox by Work AnyWare’s HQ, you will see that the walls are covered with certificates, congratulating our employees on achieving numerous professional qualifications. Not to mention the pictures of proud, smiling faces holding up certificates filling our LinkedIn page. We currently have four certified patent administrators, one trademark administrator, and two team members who have completed the WIPO Academy’s General Course on Intellectual Property.

Investing in our employees’ IP law knowledge is a fundamental part of our culture, but we’re often asked: why do we do it? In the following paragraphs, we share some of the reasons for, and benefits of, promoting employee education and training.

The trouble with niche industries

Equinox is a web-based case management software for Intellectual Property firms, designed to streamline IP attorneys' case docketing, document management and deadline generation processes. Based on our product, the dream Equinox employee would be educated in software development, have experience of writing MySQL database queries, and have a good working knowledge of Intellectual Property Law. Now, although we’re a team of optimists here at Equinox, even we know that a candidate with such a specific portfolio of skills is unlikely to respond to our recruitment announcements.

Instead of searching for candidates with the “perfect” combination of skills, we look for people who are creative, logical, and passionate about learning and developing their knowledge. We believe that as long as our employees possess these key personality traits, the required code-based expertise and IP law knowledge can be learnt.

Investing in our people is investing in our company’s future

Many companies shy away from sponsoring education for their employees due to the costs involved; not only are there training and exam costs, there is also the missed work hours during training days, and the potential delay to other work projects while training is ongoing. However, we believe that the benefits far outweigh the financial drawbacks.

We are very proud of our low rate of employee turnover here at Equinox, and we attribute that, at least in part, to our investment in employee training. When it comes to showing team members that they’re valued, we’re not afraid to put our money where our mouth is! By choosing to sponsor an employee’s Intellectual Property Law education, be that encouraging them to attend the UKIPO’s Intellectual Property Masterclass or funding their Chartered Patent Administration course, we’re not just telling our employees that they’re important, we’re showing them. And we have found that the more appreciated a team member feels, the higher the quality of the work they give back to the company.

We have also found that after completing their training, employees have not just gained IP law knowledge, they have also gained a reinvigorated approach to their work. Learning new skills decreases boredom amongst our employees, whilst increasing their feelings of fulfilment, and their productivity levels.

The better we understand our clients, the more we can improve our product

Gaining insight into the day-to-day workings of an IP attorney or IP paralegal is invaluable to our employees; from the developers producing our upcoming roadmap of new features, to the onboarding specialists mapping out our new subscribers’ workflows, to the client services team helping our users gain the most from the system. Across all teams in the company, an understanding of how our users work helps us to make sure our product has the best out-of-the-box templates, and the most intuitive features.

It also enables us to have more meaningful in-person conversations with our users. At our annual User Conference, we invite subscribers to come and listen to a series of talks on key Equinox features, followed by round-table discussions in which users are encouraged to ask the Equinox team any questions about the product, as well as put forward any improvement suggestions they have. We have found that the more IP knowledge our team has, the more fruitful and mutually beneficial these discussions become for both Equinox and our subscribers.

We look forward to discussing Equinox with our users this September in London, if you are an Equinox subscriber and would like to attend, please register online here.