Our spotlight on our solicitors series gives us the chance to shine a light on our talented legal professionals. With these interviews, we learn more about the people behind the expert legal advice. This time, we spoke with Brownies and Guides leader and Intellectual Property Solicitor, Gemma Pickavant.
How did you begin your career?
Prior to joining the Harper James in 2016, Gemma studied a Bachelor of Law and completed her Legal Practice Course (LPC) at Staffordshire University.
‘I began my legal career as a legal assistant here in Harper James when I joined in 2016, working mainly in the corporate and IP departments. I did my training contract here and was fortunate to be offered a position within the IP team when I qualified in 2021.’
Did you have any expectations of the legal industry? Has working in the legal industry lived up to those expectations?
‘I did have one expectation of the legal industry – I knew from the beginning that it was going to be long hours and hard work and I was right to an extent, but what I didn’t expect was the satisfaction I feel when helping clients.’
What are your main areas of intellectual property expertise?
‘I help clients with all types of IP matters: trade marks, designs, copyright, and patents. My main area of expertise is trade mark law; both contentious and non-contentious.’ Gemma explains. ‘I help clients with trade mark protection and enforcement, as well as dealing with allegations of infringement.’
How have you found working at Harper James?
‘I’ve been at Harper James since 2016, and a lot has changed since then! It’s been great to watch the firm evolve and be given the opportunity to grow alongside the firm. I’m lucky to work in such a supportive team, which has allowed me to stretch myself whilst having the reassurance that the team is there to support me if needed.’
Can you recall any key moments of your career so far?
‘Being involved in a trade mark dispute which ended up being heard at the IPEC (Intellectual Property Enterprise Court) is something that I will always remember.’ explains Gemma. ‘Although the case was eventually settled outside of court, being in a courtroom watching the Judge considering the evidence that I had compiled really helped me appreciate the importance of the work I was doing.’
What do you think your clients value most about the way you work with them?
‘I think clients appreciate my ability to drill down to the heart of an issue and explain the complexities of a situation in the simplest of terms.’
Do you have any hobbies? What do you do to unwind?
‘When I’m not at work, I run a Brownies and Guides group which takes up a lot of my spare time. I also enjoy reading and baking and I like to get out for walks when the weather’s nice!’
What’s the best piece of legal advice you could give a business?
‘Think about your intellectual property protection from the outset, especially when you’re working with contractors to help develop your branding.’ Gemma says. ‘You don’t want to work under the assumption that you own all of the IP, only to discover further down the line that this isn’t the case.’