thinking outside the box
Jeremy has been UK Country Manager since 2013 and is now a Principal at Rouse Consultancy, providing strategic intellectual property advisory services to technology companies and brand owners globally.
One of the first things colleagues notice about Jeremy is his efficiency and highly developed organisational skills: he’s one of those people whose desk is always neat and whose projects always run smoothly. It takes a little longer to see that the high level of organisation is really just a tool, enabling Jeremy to do effectively what he does best: to create and develop IP strategies and the systems necessary for their successful implementation. What excited him about this area of the law in the first place was being exposed to innovation and new ideas – it’s something he’s still excited by, but now there’s the added satisfaction of working to ensure successful development and exploitation.
The path to IP and the law, however, was not a straightforward one. At Watford Grammar School, 27km northwest of central London, Jeremy did well academically, particularly in Maths and Physics. This was probably not surprising as both his father and grandfather had been successful academic engineers. His grandfather had been one of three employees of the Building Research Establishment entrusted to work on a top-secret model for the famous Dambusters Raid during the Second World War, and his father had developed a special expertise in concrete structures. Jeremy’s memory of early family holidays is being dragged round Europe looking at a seemingly endless array of concrete dams and bridges.
Despite his scientific ability and family heritage, Jeremy was discouraged from becoming an engineer; instead, he applied to join the Royal Engineers, a highly regarded British Army corps that provides military engineering and other technical support to the British Armed Forces. He successfully completed a rigorous physical, intellectual and leadership assessment process, and was duly offered a commission - but it wasn’t the short service limited commission he had been hoping for (which would have enabled him to leave after a year), so he promptly rejected the offer and set his sights on a geography degree from Manchester University. This was partly because he had a good friend studying geography at Manchester, and partly because Manchester was the pop capital of the UK.
Jeremy’s parents, however, had other ideas and, after much discussion, it was finally agreed that he should take a year out to reflect. He says he probably reflected more on having a good time than on making the right career choice and spent most of the year travelling. The longest and most adventurous trip was a motorbike trip to Greece and back with his brother and a good friend. He recalls that on one of the Greek islands they agreed to give a lift to an Italian hitchhiker who was returning to central Italy, the only problem being that they didn’t have a spare helmet. They came up with an enterprising, if not the most prudent, solution: they would use a hollowed out half water-melon as a ‘helmet’. Fortunately, they reached their destination without mishap – and without being stopped once. So much for the efficiency of the Greek and Italian police!
In the end, Jeremy agreed to drop the geography idea and do whatever his parents chose - as long as it was at Manchester University (and didn’t involve anything ‘bloody’ such as medicine or veterinary science). And they chose a combined Honours course in Law and Accounting. Jeremy knew he didn’t want to be an Accountant, so at the end of his second year he accepted an offer to do articles at the law firm Davies Arnold Cooper. Having secured a position, and being far from a typical law student, he then concentrated on enjoying himself for the remainder of the course. He moved in with a group of Media Studies students and generally focused on having a good time, which often took the form of adventurous outdoor activities such as hang gliding, long distance cycling and mountain trekking. Although life is much busier these days, he still likes to head off on an outdoors’ adventure whenever he can: often on his trusty bicycle.
As an articled clerk at Davies Arnold Cooper, Jeremy found himself working on some of the biggest reinsurance litigation of the day, including claims relating to the Piper Alpha North Sea oil rig disaster off the coast of Aberdeen and the Bhopal gas tragedy in India. He was honing the organisational skills he had begun to develop in his school days, but also displaying his capacity for creative and independent thinking. Late one afternoon during his first six months, when he was the only representative of the firm in the Official Referee’s Court, the Judge indicated that for organisational reasons the case would probably have to be deferred. The QC turned to Jeremy and asked: “What are your instructions?” He had none. All he knew was that any delay would be disastrous for the client. So he took it upon himself to suggest that the hearing could continue in the boardroom of his firm, which is ultimately what happened.
It was in the IP rotation, however, that he really found his feet. He loved it from the outset and on qualifying joined the IP department. Then, after only three or four weeks, he was seconded to a small, and at that time struggling, computer company based in Slough: Apple. It was an ideas-based business, and Jeremy was absolutely fascinated. The lawyer he was replacing advised him, however: “Always remember why you are in the room – you are just the lawyer”. Jeremy knew at once that wasn’t at all the role he wanted to play, but he buckled down while he was there and restricted himself to giving strictly legal advice.
Before long, however, the opportunity to join Rouse arose. Jeremy was immediately reminded of the creative Apple environment that had appealed to him so much, but here it seemed he would be able to work as a lawyer without being ‘just the lawyer’. He couldn’t resist. And within the first few weeks of joining, he knew he’d found what he’d been looking for.