Diversity & Inclusion

Raising awareness of IP Inclusive for non-attorneys

IP Inclusive: everyone, everywhere, all at once

By Jodie Johnson and Caelia Bryn-Jacobsen

No, the IP community is not predominately made up of qualified attorneys, or ‘fee earners’ as they are rather ironically still called. It takes a complex network of people for any one person in this niche profession to be able to ‘do their job’. Not least those attorneys, like myself, who are completely dependent on working together with talented paralegals, IT experts, HR departments, marketing personnel, business development advisors… the list is long.

IP Inclusive was set up a network for everyone working in the IP profession. And yet, ‘non-fee earners’ are significantly underrepresented. A complex intersection of factors underpins the ‘why’. But there are two certainties: this was not the intention for IP Inclusive, and significant steps continue to be made to welcome as diverse a range of people as possible from throughout the IP community.

I was privileged last year to speak at CIPA’s Paralegal Congress with one of my fellow members from IP Inclusive’ s Advisory Board, Jodie Johnson. Our aim was to bring awareness of, and encourage involvement in, IP Inclusive. To drive engagement with one or more of its growing number of communities with their common drive for equity, diversity and inclusion.

For my own part, I wanted to emphasise that my involvement with IP Inclusive is independent of the role I have in the profession – it relates rather to the person I am. To how I have looked to support as someone with sole parental responsibility for my children, and someone part of a very non-traditional family. How I’ve wanted to hear more on how others navigate the world of IP and motherhood, flexible and part-time working, and being very much in the gender minority. And that I’ve wanted to give back from my own learning, on topics I’ve had personal experience with from my own family, including disabilities and neurodiversity. For me, it’s very much been a two-way interaction with IP Inclusive – an interaction not motivated or dictated by my specific role in the profession. IP Inclusive was, and is, as relevant to me, as it was to anyone in the room where we spoke.

Jodie’s IP Inclusive journey, as an IT Trainer at Boult Wade Tennant since 2018, is an inspiration for us all to expand IP Inclusive’ s membership, and to encourage those who have heard of it to get involved:

‘During lockdown I was part of a call hosted by Boult’s for The Sutton Trust, a charity which champions social mobility. After the initial call, I joined Boult’s internal D&I group as I felt a strong connection to The Sutton Trust cause. They help young adults from disadvantaged backgrounds get into education.

I grew up on a council estate with my Mum (who is only 17 years older than me) and my younger sister. I went to a state school, we got free school meals, got our Christmas presents from the Salvation Army and I personally felt I came from a disadvantaged background.

I have been very lucky through my working life with the job opportunities, especially given I am dyslexic and as an adult still struggle with my spelling and reading. If there is anything I could contribute to help minimise the struggles I had during education that would be amazing, and several of the IP Inclusive communities offer support and the opportunity to give back in these areas.

Once I was on the internal D&I group, an opportunity came up to join IP Inclusive’s Advisory Board. I was really nervous and thought I wouldn’t be able to join because I am classed as “support staff” and not a fee earner. But they were looking for anyone in IP. So I took the leap and joined! It has been an amazing journey and my voice and views are always listened to, I am never dismissed and my opinion is always valued.’

Jodie highlights some deep-rooted fears and biases which need dispelling to further address the attorney, non-attorney gap. How to reach out to a wider group, and let them and others who feel ‘this is for them’ realise they are so welcome in the IP Inclusive network?

IP Inclusive is working incredibly hard on exactly this through its many initiatives this year and going forward, not least, for example, through its IP Futures community, Inclusivity Unlocked series, and support for charities such as the Access Project, Generating Genius, and In2ScieinceUK. But I strongly feel one of the most powerful ways for us as individuals to effect change and compliment these initiatives will be to actively take responsibility ourselves. To make the time, and put in the effort, to speak to colleagues in the profession, whatever their job title. To be role models and champions for a wider reach, and a more diverse network. To be like Jodie, and not be afraid to have your voice heard. Everyone, everywhere is welcome at IP Inclusive. Let’s spread the word. (All) at once!

Jodie Johnson is an IT Trainer at Boult Wade Tennant and Caelia Bryn-Jacobsen is a partner at Kilburn & Strode LLP.

Date Published: 28 April 2023

Alternative Diversity & Inclusion

Shopping Basket

No products in the cart.

Skip to content