Guy Warner of Unilever and Iain Russell of Russell IP have recently set up EQE Training Ltd in order to deliver their take on European Qualifying Exams training to would-be European Patent attorneys.
We recently spoke with Guy about their motivation, approach and aims.
RH - You have formed this new venture with Iain Russell, how do you two know one another?
GW - Iain and I met when we were both trainee patent attorneys studying for the European Qualifying Exams, Iain was a year ahead and we just clicked. Iain passed his EQE’s with flying colours, I passed the next year.
RH – You and Iain already have careers as successful patent attorneys, you in-house and Iain in his own private practice, what made you come up with this?
GW – I have always been passionate about teaching – when I was younger, I was a ski instructor. I loved skiing, I wanted to share what I did, and felt it was a really good metric of my ability to be able to teach somebody else to do it. I don’t believe in the adage that “Those who can, do. Those that can’t, teach”. I think that those that can teach should teach. I think that there is an obligation to the profession to give people the ability to perform at the best level they can. Also, on a personal level it is incredibly rewarding to see people you have brought along gain success. So, after I qualified I went straight into tutoring.
RH - Why was that, why not have a break?
GW - I wanted to maintain my exam readiness and knowledge. You are never as good as you are the day before your exam. It’s like being an athlete. You train to your peak for a competition, but you cannot stay at that event-ready level of fitness forever. However, you can, with work, maintain a high level of professional fitness. I wanted to stay on top of the exam techniques and subject matter.
RH - I see that you use the athlete analogy in your marketing materials.
GW - Yes, we say passing the EQE’s, and passing them well is incredibly difficult and requires a real, long-term commitment from the candidates. These exams are like the Olympics for the candidates, they need to perform at their absolute peak to pass. We also say that the process of passing the EQE’s is a marathon, not a sprint.
With our training plan, we want to enable candidates on the day the results come out, to all be able to stand on the podium as it were, with a winner’s medal around their neck celebrating their individual successes. We try to get our candidates to see their training in these terms and to visualize that success. It acts as a real motivator, not only for those taking the exams, but for us as well. We see ourselves as coaches rather than tutors. The relationship between a coach and the person they are coaching is much more profound than that of a tutor and student.
RH - So when you talk about a training plan, how does this differ from other offerings on the market?
GW – Iain and I used to teach on other courses in what was a pretty standard format for the profession. We only saw candidates for a day and a half, or a couple of days, and go over what they have learned – usually by self-study - in order to try and prepare them for the exams.
The problem with this approach is that there is always going to be different levels of exam-readiness and competence among the cohort, which results in the outstanding candidates often having to wait for those not as ready to catch up. Cramming is also not as an effective means of learning as ongoing, regular lessons. We felt constrained by the existing format, and very frustrated. Our courses sold out quickly and we had to add extra sessions, but there was a limit to what we could do. This is why we have started up EQE Training. There was no point in re-inventing the same wheel. It’s not to offer another just another course, but we think something better, a premium offering.
RH - So what’s the format?
GW – It’s a hybrid. A series of weekly classes of about 90 minutes running from November until near the March exam, with a one “Mock Exam” at the end that people can attend in person or online. Iain and I are teaching live during these sessions via an e-learning platform. We also record these sessions so students can watch them again, or for the first time if they cannot attend a live class. The sessions are designed to be interactive.
RH – Anything else you would like to share with us?
GW - Over the years we have developed a whole number of techniques, such as visualisation techniques, various tools, and templates. We do a deep dive into several past papers, the sheer level of teaching in terms of hours we provide and the toolkit we give is designed specifically to help our students pass the EQE’s and pass them well.
RH – Many thanks Guy