Beck Greener is committed to supporting voluntary and charitable activities in the local and wider communities.
We offer one day’s paid leave to all staff members to carry out voluntary work and we actively encourage staff to make use of this time. The staff are free to work with whichever registered charity they wish, although patent fee-earners are encouraged to use at least some of their time promoting science, technology, engineering or maths (STEM) subjects and careers generally, or the IP profession in particular, amongst school-aged students.
The cornerstone of our Community CSR programme is the STEM: Branching Out project. This encompasses a variety of activities aimed at promoting STEM careers and raising the profile of the IP profession, while also providing our staff with opportunities to develop their skills in areas such as communication, leadership, presentation, and project-management.
As part of our STEM: Branching Out project we have become part of the STEM Ambassadors Programme, run by STEM Learning UK, for which over 80% of our eligible fee-earners have signed-up. We have also introduced a pro bono scheme where patent attorneys at Beck Greener will work with students to prepare and file UK patent applications for potential inventions coming out of school science projects. We have also run insight placements for Year 12 students, in collaboration with the charity Generating Genius.
In addition, we have provided work experience to IT students on industrial placement, as part of their degree course. Our first student joined us in January 2016 and we welcomed our second student in September 2016.
We try hard to enable staff to work around existing voluntary commitments. In this regard, one member of staff regularly mentors small businesses as part of Westminster Council’s Business Mentoring Scheme. In addition, another member of staff was allowed to take a three-month sabbatical to do voluntary work in India.
We also help identify charities with which non-fee-earning staff can get involved. We also offer payroll giving (or Give As You Earn) to enable staff to make their regular charitable donations in a more cost-effective manner.
In early 2018 we introduced a foodbank collection scheme. This has been an instant success, with the trolley being filled every few weeks and taken for donation at a local foodbank
Our firm raises money each year for Genetic Disorders UK by taking part in Jeans for Genes Day and, this year, we raised just under £500. We also raise money for Save the Children by taking part in their annual Christmas Jumper Day. Our firm also contributes annually to the Benevolent Societies of the Chartered Institute of Trade Mark Attorneys (CITMA) and the Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys (CIPA).
We believe that high quality IP advice should be available to all and to this end we run a service aimed primarily at individuals and small companies, which provides a free initial consultation during which we will advise which forms of IP may be available for a new idea and how to go about securing protection. Fee-earners from Beck Greener have also assisted in clinics run by CIPA providing free IP advice to the public.
Some of our fee earners are also regular contributors to the CIPA Guide to the Patents Act, and collaborate to write a column for the monthly CIPA Journal reporting recent cases from the English courts and from the Court of Justice of the European Union. In October 2015, the team headed by Anna Hatt were awarded the CIPA Journal Editor's Award for their contributions to the various publications.