Interview with Mark Shipley, Managing Director at Shipley IP

Why did you set up Shipley IP?

I saw an opportunity to deliver legal services differently.  There was a gap between traditional law firms and the commercial needs of modern businesses - Shipley IP was born to fill it.

Business is all about people but perhaps that hasn’t been the overriding view held by the legal profession.  I believe that it is only by connecting with people on a shared level and building a genuine relationship with them that you can truly add value.  Shipley IP is built upon that ethos - it’s the reason why we retain clients and get much of our new business through referrals.

The people we work with include, world renowned fashion designers, international digital and creative agencies, market leading technology and software companies, AIM listed bio-technologists, up-and-coming musicians and champion professional athletes.  All work is done with one eye on our clients' aims for their businesses.  We’ve forged long term relationships with them by engaging with them. Providing the level of service I set out to achieve, means understanding the value of the people behind each business.

Where’s the best place to go if you want to find out what’s really going on in the office?

My desk.  I sit in the centre of the team in our open plan office.  There’s no better place to be.

What's the best thing about your job?

Talking to interesting people about their businesses and their visions for the future – then helping to achieve them.  Our intellectual property specialism means we have a really varied client base because it is an area which affects just about every business on some level.  In one day, I may talk to a fashion designer, a bio-technologist and an app developer which definitely keeps things interesting.  I can honestly say that the best part of the job is helping people to make their businesses work better for them.

What’s the toughest thing about your job?

Finding the right people can be a challenge.  We have a different approach to traditional law firms so making sure people will fit into that culture is really important.

Who has been the biggest influence in your career to date?

Undoubtedly, Kevin Philbin. I worked with him at Wacks Caller and he doesn’t just know how to practice law, he is an authority on how to apply it to business.

What has been the greatest achievement in your profession to date?

The greatest achievements tend to come via the clients I work with.  When their businesses are flying because of strategies we have put in place, that’s a proud moment.  Of course, signing off every deal is satisfying, but the most personally rewarding are those in which long term tactical plays begin to reap dividends for a client.  Personally, I’m proud that Shipley IP was recommended in the Legal 500 after only five years in operation – it is based on client feedback so it’s further affirmation that we are doing the best we can for them.

Which person outside the legal sector do you most admire?

There are three of them – my children.  They amaze, inspire and motivate me every day.

What would you advise lawyers beginning their legal career today

You won’t get anywhere if you believe it is just about writing contracts and billing hours.  The days of just selling time are over.  Clients expect to see real value being delivered at every stage, so commercial understanding and experience are key.  Just knowing what the law is won’t cut it, you need to be able to listen to a client and then apply it to their business.

Whether you are looking to recruit or for independent career advice please contact James Batt or Ify Okpalugo at BCL Legal on 0845 241 0933 or

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