The future of the IP legal profession: new strategies, new technologies

The business world is experiencing rapid, profound and unprecedented change—from the “great retirement” of the baby boom generation to the impact of artificial intelligence (AI). How will corporate and law firm intellectual property (IP) professionals navigate this shifting landscape successfully?

We explored these timely topics with a panel of experts, capturing their insights in a new white paper entitled “The future of the IP legal profession: Balancing the rise of artificial intelligence with human expertise.” You can access it here.

Listen to the full panel discussion using the on-demand webinar link here.

The experts represented both corporate and law firm perspectives—Monica Baig-Silva, Vice President, Intellectual Property Counsel for Thermo Fisher Scientific; and Theresa Weisenberger, Intellectual Property and Technology Partner at BakerHostetler LLP—as well as Clarivate™ thought leaders Vasheharan Kanesarajah, Vice President, Head of Strategy for Intellectual Property; and Arun Hill, Senior Intellectual Property Consultant.

Kanesarajah set the stage by highlighting the key drivers of change in today’s IP ecosystem, including:

  • Increasing IP management complexity
  • Industry-driven strategies impacting IP development
  • Growing influence of Mainland China in IP matters
  • Emergence of generative AI and its growing use in IP processes

These trends are impacting the IP legal profession in every dimension—people, process, data and technology.

The impact of AI

A recent Clarivate global survey of IP and R&D professionals revealed that 43% reported AI is not currently used in their practice, with 64% expecting minimal change to their role due to AI and 49% citing the lack of AI regulation as a concern. Survey responses suggested there is an appetite for using AI in low-risk, easily automated tasks and for intelligence-based use cases and ideation, rather than for supporting prosecution.

Attorneys Weisenberger and Baig-Silva saw little chance of AI replacing legal professionals. Rather, they foresee AI playing a support role, helping IP professionals work more efficiently and effectively. Both shared concerns over accuracy and confidentiality as potential barriers to AI adoption for IP legal processes. Entering sensitive information into tools like ChatGPT could present risks, requiring careful attention to policies governing use of AI tools.

Despite these concerns, the panelists noted that patent law may be a good field for introducing AI tools due to the fact that information in patent applications are public and the period of confidentiality is relatively short. However, they underscored the need for human experts to be embedded in the process of training and overseeing AI and large language models.

For more resources on AI in IP view our webinar and special report:


Facilitating knowledge transfer

As the baby boom generation exits the workforce, how will organizations transfer their knowledge to younger colleagues? Weisenberger and Baig-Silva agreed that knowledge transfer is important, including the “soft skills” retiring professionals have gained over decades of building and maintaining business relationships. Generational differences can make this challenging, they noted, emphasizing the need for more direct training rather than “watch and learn” approaches.

Technology plays an important role in transferring institutional knowledge, capturing information that otherwise would walk out the door when people retire. Cloud-based software like IP Management Systems and AI tools offer practical solutions for maintaining institutional knowledge. This benefits the rest of the department by avoiding the need to “recreate the wheel.”

The role of data and analytics

The panelists all agreed that intellectual property data and analytics are becoming increasingly central to the IP profession. Baig-Silva noted that having the right data can help business leaders understand the value of their IP investments—and, by extension, the value of the IP teams charged with protecting and managing IP assets. “Having the right metrics allows us to have a seat at the table, helping inform the business strategy,” she noted.

AI can play a role in generating those metrics, including competitive intelligence modeling. This can provide valuable insights about white space opportunities, regional filing strategies, how long you can maintain barriers to entry and other strategic considerations.

Hill noted that emerging tools are unlocking new capabilities for IP management. These innovative tools ingest different types of data, creating critical connections to better understand the value of IP. The key is to focus on a clear purpose to ensure analytics achieve something useful, with continuous monitoring and validation.

Looking to the future

One thing is certain: The business landscape will continue to evolve and the need for organizations to innovate will only grow. Corporate IP teams and IP law firms may be able to gain an advantage in the dynamic IP profession if they remember three key takeaways.

  1. Embrace change.
  2. Capture and leverage valuable knowledge before it’s too late.
  3. Use technology and data in new and productive ways.

To get the full story, read our white paper “The future of the IP legal profession: Balancing the rise of artificial intelligence with human expertise.Download it now.

To see how Clarivate can help your IP team, contact us today.