Sunday, 18 August 2013

Sophie Hann




Astonished to learn client Sophie Hann is literally living inside one of my favourite legal topics. Of all the editorial angles we've taken on the credit crunch, my favourite has to be the rise of the pop up shop, temporary art installation and peripatetic living space, as property owners find wonderfully creative and colourful solutions to the problem of vacant properties blighting our communities as well as being open invitations to squatting and crime. By day Sophie runs the marketing team at longstanding Kysen client Intangible Business, the IP valuation specialists who have written the blueprint for this very specialist discipline. (Not content with leading the market in the UK for brand valuation in the context of M&A or commercial disputes, they have recently been advising overseas governments on developing frameworks for emerging IP valuation professions). But I learned only this week that outside working hours Sophie is a "live-in guardian" making her home in disused commercial properties as part of a scheme to provide live-in protection to vacant buildings waiting for the appropriate planning permission or funding before being developed. I was fascinated! What a contrast she must see every day as she transitions from the consumate professional she is at IB during the day, to the artsy loft-liver she is of an evening. Just imagine making your sitting room in the middle of a 1000-square-foot former office space! It may not be your cup of tea, but in my filmic fantasy life it most definitely is. Well, okay, maybe the nomadic element to the lifestyle is not so appealing, as Sophie will need to move from place to place only staying in one location for a short period (I've chosen to live in the same house for 18 years after all). And maybe communal living is not my thing either (if you discount family life). But hey, this is what fantasies are for: appealing scenarios that absolutely don't work for you in real life.

I've
always seen Intangible Business as creating the mould, leaving others to do the copying. So perhaps Sophie's unconventional approach to central London living is not so surprising. We discussed this as we talked about her plan for the next stage of marketing IP.

"Intangible Business is well known in legal spheres now and our founders Thayne and Stuart have a clear voice in legal media that people listen to. I'm now on a mission to make sure everyone is aware just how far ahead of even their closest competitors they are. These guys created the blueprint for IP valuation and they continue to innovate everyday. The work they do for foreign governments really shows the level they and the team work at: advising on how to set the new rules for IP valuation.” 

This lady has spark. We know her ambition. Now let's watch this space...
***
This week's Red Bull Bullies story proves my point that litigation and reputation should always be thought about in tandem. I've seen so many own goals by the other side when managing press coverage of court cases, where a clever, persuasive line of argument wins the legal point maybe, but threatens thoroughly to trash a company's reputation so the legal team is forced to cave in in any event. Red Bull had challenged tiny Norwich-based Redwell Brewery that its name infringed a Red Bull UK trademark in an attempt to stop them using it to trade. A social media storm ensued leading to headlines on mainstream media about Red Bull Bullies. The global energy drink giant had tried to argue that the name Redwell was problematic because in addition to the use of the word Red, both "well" and "Bull" ended in "ll". Given this attention to the phonetics and graphemics of the matter, did it not occur to them that the "Bull" in their own name lent itself only too easily to headlines of Bullying?
***
A-level results day set me thinking... This year Weightmans market-leading Higher Education team has taught me a lot about how university business has changed. Their funding depends more today on their ability to attract students, whereas in my day it was far more about research grants. The knock-on effect of this strategic change gives rise to all manner of legal issues, not least how staffing levels are configured around business need and how carefully this needs to be managed when things transition. A case in point is the latest trend for universities to offer cash "sweeteners" to the UK's brightest students following new Government rules allowing universities to offer unlimited places to ABB-plus students. 

But this week I have to say my interest in the subject was much more personal as my eldest landed himself a place at Lancaster Uni to study English with Creative Writing #proudmum. Although reality is now sinking in that the first of my chicks will be flying the nest... far too soon!

Nice to be able to share these mixed emotions on Twitter. Bonded with a few other mums and dads in the legal sphere and made some new friends. Good to remember all of us are working to live, not the other way around. :)

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