WRP Legal & Advisory director was intrigued by the ubiquity of IP in everyday life

In another life, Stephen Annicchiarico might have been running a pizzeria

WRP Legal & Advisory director was intrigued by the ubiquity of IP in everyday life

Stephen Annicchiarico picked IP law as his area of specialisation because of his passion for business, technology, marketing and graphic design.

His skill and determination in this field has led him to many accolades, including being named as an Australasian Lawyer Rising Star for two consecutive years and most recently, ascending to the role of director at WRP Legal & Advisory.

In this January interview, Annicchiarico talks paying attention only to the right constructive feedback, the possibilities of AI, and how the legal profession can help young lawyers.

What made you choose a career in law?

I’ve always been very passionate about business, technology, marketing and graphic design - so choosing an area of the law (intellectual property) which is highly applicable to those interests, was a “no brainer” for me. Additionally, I always found the ubiquity of intellectual property in everyday life to be particularly intriguing.

What's your favourite part of the job?

Favourite part of my job is helping clients achieve outcomes that they might not be able to without my support. For example, clients often approach me in the situation where their competitors are leveraging from my clients’ reputation without their consent (i.e. “ripping off” my clients’ brands). My client often doesn’t know what to do or how to approach the infringement, and I’m able to work with them to implement a strategy which is best suited to their specific circumstance.

What tech-related initiatives adopted by the organisation, if any, are you most excited about?

We’re looking at the possibilities of AI software’s role in maximising efficiencies. I am looking forward to responsibly helping other lawyers in the firm become comfortable with these new opportunities and seeing the positive impact it will have on our practice.

What has been your proudest accomplishment in the last year or so?

Aside from my recent promotion to director, my proudest achievement in the last year was being named a ‘Rising Star’ by Australasian Lawyer.

What’s the biggest lesson you learned in the past year and what advice can you give fellow lawyers about it?

The biggest lesson I have learnt is, irrespective of the setbacks, to keep focused on your goals. Only pay attention to the constructive feedback and opinions that will help you achieve your goals. For example, many people previously commented that I would not be able to achieve the above accomplishments unless I was working at a ‘top-tier’ Sydney or Melbourne-based firm (happily, I didn’t listen to those opinions).

What should the profession focus more on?

Helping university students and young lawyers develop their critical ‘soft skills’. The need for developing sound communication, interpersonal and leadership skills in the workplace.

What are the challenges you expect in your practice, and in the business of law in general, going forward? What challenges are particularly pressing in the country’s legal industry?

I see particular challenges emerging around artificial intelligence. Such technology could lead to an increase in intellectual property infringements, without the ability for owners to easily enforce their rights. This, in my view, reflects the difficulties the law will encounter in the coming years in an attempt to ‘keep up’ with the rapid developments in technology. It’s imperative that law firms have that specialist view from their IP teams.

What are you looking forward to the most in the coming year?

Continuing to build-out WRP’s intellectual property practice and the intellectual property team, as a whole.

If you weren’t in law, what do you think you’d be doing as a career?

Running a pizzeria/graphic designer/marketer.

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