We speak with LawTap lawyer Kim Walters at W3IP Law Pty Ltd to learn more about her and the legal work that she does as an IP and digital lawyer (and she is also a registered trade mark attorney).
1. Tell us about the areas of law you practice and the work that you do at W3IP Law
I specialise in the field of intellectual property and branding, specifically trade marks, copyright, designs, patents and commercial agreements. This covers Internet law, software development and licensing, technology law and eCommerce. I protect your ideas and branding nationally and globally. We are known for our designer contracts as our work is original and we do not work from templates. We create agreements that are specific to the business needs of our clients as technology has dramatically changed the way business is done.
2. What do you enjoy most about your job?
I love being in the ‘inner circle’ or among the first to know about a great new idea, product or service. Clients are very passionate about their creations and it is exciting to share that enthusiasm with them. I find often that I participate not only in the intellectual property aspects but the client runs various ideas past me.
For example, we talk about design aspects of a logo and how best to make it distinctive if there is an issue with having it accepted by the Trade Marks Office or there is another person with a similar name in the market place. A client will also want to ‘vent’ when someone has copied content or images from their website or posted disparaging remarks on social media. We talk through that and the best way to stop the offending conduct quickly and cost-effectively.
3. What’s the biggest challenge or hardest part of your job?
That is easy. Time. Not enough of it. Many of the agreements I work on involve new technology or ways of doing business and I need to create ‘designer agreements’ that sometimes cross borders.
4. What are you most proud of in your career as a lawyer?
That I specialise in a field of law that I am passionate about and can exercise my expertise in intellectual property and reach beyond to embrace emerging law and high technology. I am a passionate advocate of globalisation and want to enable my clients to stretch their business interstate and also globally where people can exchange big idea views, products, services and culture. Geography should not stop a person from expanding their business.
5. What big changes do you think the legal industry can expect to see over the next 3 years?
There are going to be radical changes in the legal market. The way in which lawyers’ work is going to change because there will be entirely new ways of delivering legal services and accessing new providers in the market. You no longer need a big law firm like you did in the past to access legal information. The change has come about through access to information and technology through the Internet. New technologies are not just going to automate but also innovate to perform tasks that were previously unimaginable. Clients will expect 24/7 access and ‘more for less’. Clients will no longer be prepared to accept hourly billing, which can reward lawyers to take longer to complete tasks and arguably disproportionately to the value received.
6. Favourite TV show?
All-time favourite is The Sopranos and more recently I have to confess that I could not wait for an episode of Game of Thrones to find out Cersei Lannister’s next game play!
7. At what stage should someone contact you about a legal issue or matter?
A client can contact me at any time because there are always issues they may not have considered that could affect a decision they need to make right now. A basic example is a trade mark. You need to work out ahead of time what branding will be available for you before you invest time and money on your business, website or advertising when the name may not be available. It costs a lot of money to rebrand, or worse, to later receive a “cease and desist” letter from someone who has earlier rights to the name.
8. What should potential clients do before seeing you?
Nothing. Just book with me and I can work out very quickly what they need to do to protect the intellectual property in their business. The usual steps are that we meet over the phone (to save money and time) to work out a client’s IP needs. Next, we send a scope of work and fixed fee so there are no nasty surprises later. Finally, if the client is happy with the proposal, we start the work. We are always happy to discuss what the client’s budget is for the work required.