Our spotlight on our solicitors series gives us the chance to showcase the talent of our legal professionals. With these interviews, we get to uncover who the people behind the legal expertise are. This time, we spoke to senior IP and technology solicitor, mother, and animal rights enthusiast, Imogen Francis.
How did you begin your career? What/who inspired you to practice law?
‘Believe it or not, animals were the driver behind me becoming a lawyer!’ says Imogen. ‘I’ve always been passionate about campaigning for animal rights. When asked what I wanted to be growing up, the answer was always ‘animal rights barrister’. I spent a lot of time gaining experience in barrister’s chambers and at law firms – that was how I knew law was for me, but it also made me realise that being a solicitor was the right career path.’
Before embarking on her career in law, Imogen studied English literature at University of Birmingham.
‘I took a gap year in France to be a chalet host and ski guide and although I could have stayed there forever(!), I came back feeling motivated to pursue my legal career. I completed the Graduate Diploma in Law and the LPC at Nottingham Law School before securing a training contract at Shakespeare Martineau, where I qualified. I didn’t become the animal rights lawyer that inspired my initial route into law, but I support animal welfare in other ways!’
What are the main areas of your IP and tech expertise? Do you cover any niche areas in particular?
Imogen specialises in the Research and Development space, advising technology businesses and university spin outs on a range of legal matters and agreements.
‘I have lots of experience drafting software contracts of all types, ranging from licenses and assignments to software development and maintenance contracts and reseller agreements. I also advise on open-source software, which can be niche at times!’
Imogen also advises clients of all sizes in the life sciences sector on matters relating to their latest drugs or AI. This advice spans all stages of the lifecycle from product inception and development through to registration strategy and commercialisation.
Can you recall any key highlights from your career so far?
‘There have been many highlights of my career, but I am particularly proud of being a finalist in the legal category for Birmingham Young Professional of the Year 2016 and three-time shortlisted for Associate Solicitor of the Year at the BLS Legal Awards.’
What do your clients value the most about how you work with them?
‘I’m friendly and easy to get along with. I always take a genuine interest in clients and their businesses – this enables them to feel at ease with me and communicate their requirements confidently, allowing me to give much more focused, commercial advice. To me, this is the basis of strong, open working relationships.’
How have you found working at Harper James? Any first impressions?
‘Harper James is brilliant. It offers flexible working with top quality work and clients. Every member of the team is extremely supportive and friendly. What’s not to like about that?’
Any hobbies? What do you do to unwind?
When Imogen isn’t advising her clients, she can either be found at the gym, taking care of her 18-month-old son, or spending time with her husband and friends.
‘I love weight training at the gym, it really helps me unwind after a busy day at work. I also love spending time with my young son. It’s lovely when he comes home from nursery at the end of the day and is thrilled to see me – I hope that lasts!’