The ones to watch

Alison Laferla tracks the careers of five rising stars at the Bar and finds out why their instructing solicitors rate them.

Michael Tappin

8 New Square

Called to the Bar: 19

Professional achievements/associations:

Chancery Bar Association, Intellectual Property Bar Association, The Intellectual Property Lawyers Organisation.

Areas of practice:

All aspects of intellectual property, with a particular interest in chemical, pharmaceutical and biotechnological cases.

What others say about him:

Tappin is reputed to be particularly strong on patent and technology cases.

Instructing solicitors say he is bright and hard-working and rate him for his understanding of chemical and biotechnological issues.

Tappin does a lot of work for Microsoft, particularly on anti-piracy and anti-counterfeiting issues. His patent cases include Willis Arnold Charlesworth v Relay Roads and Biogen v Medeva. He also appears regularly for Phonographic Performance on issues of copyright.

"I would describe him as very solid – he gets the job done," says one lawyer. Another comments: "Michael is in the same class as Richard Meade (see opposite) – he is responsive, he works well and is very, very good."

Colin Birss

Three New Square

Called to the Bar: 1990

Professional achievements/associations:

Intellectual Property Bar Association, Chancery Bar Association.

Areas of practice:

Intellectual property, including patents, biotechnology cases, registered trade marks, copyright, designs and passing off.

What others say about him:

Described as a "heavyweight IP junior", Birss is considered good on most aspects of intellectual property law and some lawyers rate him as the best at the junior IP bar.

Birss' cases include the terfenadine patent case Merrell Dow v Norton, Uni-continental v Eurobond and, before the European Patent Office, Berlex Biosciences on E.Coli inclusion bodies and Orion Fermion, a case about Fluoxetine process. His chambers says that, at the IP bar, only Andrew Waugh QC presents more cases at the European Patent Office.

Birss is consistently described as very nice to work with.

"He is thorough, likable and not arrogant," says one solicitor. "As well as having the intelligence and giving the added value you require, he is also very approachable."

Another IP lawyer says Birss is someone who is extremely good with clients, very dependable and hard working. "He is so easy to work with, he's brilliant," he adds.

Thomas Hinchliffe

Three New Square

Called to the Bar: 1990

Professional achievements/associations:

Chancery Bar Association, Intellectual Property Association.

Areas of practice:

All types of contentious intellectual property work.

What others say about him:

Although he is still very junior, IP lawyers who have dealt with Hinchliffe all say he will go far. They describe him as incisive and very enthusiastic. "He is also very willing to learn, which is important," says one IP practitioner.

Instructing solicitors say that, unlike many at the IP bar, Hinchliffe turns things around quickly and well.

His cases to date include Chocosuisse v Cadburys (passing off); Ray v Classic FM (copyright); and Uni-continental v Eurobond (patent). He is now preparing for the Monsanto v Merck trial, widely regarded as the patent trial of the year.

One IP lawyer sums up: "Thomas Hinchliffe rolls up his sleeves and works very hard, unlike many juniors who are happy to just sit behind their QCs and watch the money roll in.

"He is definitely one to watch."

Richard Meade

8 New Square

Called to the Bar: 19

Professional achievements/associations:

Chancery Bar Association, Intellectual Property Bar Association, The Intellectual Property Lawyers Organisation. Co-author of the forthcoming edition of Kerly's Law of Trade Marks. Editor of Atkins' Court Forms section on Trade Marks and Trade Names; assistant editor of the Supreme Court Practice (Trade Marks and Patents).

Areas of practice:

All aspects of intellectual property, including technically complex patent litigation, trade mark litigation, musical copyright and contract disputes and European competition law.

What others say about him:

At a much more senior level, Meade is considered by several IP solicitors to be one of the best barristers in the field, particularly on the patent side. Even solicitors who have not instructed him comment on how strong his reputation is.

In the words of one leading IP practitioner: "Of the juniors at the patent bar, I would rate Meade as the highest, for his overall manner, knowledge, diligence, common sense and judgement."

Others recommended him for his ability to handle complex cases effectively.

Meade's more recent cases include the Elvis Presley Trade Mark case and the Prince Jefri Bolkiah v KPMG case regarding Chinese walls. He is also appearing in Monsanto v Merck.

Described as enthusiastic, thorough and a "terrific bloke", lawyers say that Meade has a bright future ahead of him.

"Although he has already got a flourishing practice, he will go much further," says one practitioner.

Thomas Mitcheson

Three New Square

Called to the Bar: 19

Professional achievements/associations:

Chancery Bar Association, Intellectual Property Bar Association.

Areas of practice:

All types of contentious intellectual property work.

What others say about him:

Mitcheson is another junior junior who is fast making a name for himself as one of the IP bar's brightest prospects. Lawyers who have worked with him give him rave reviews, saying he is bright, hard-working and pragmatic.

"He is competent, highly intelligent and personable. He really is up and coming," says one practitioner.

A leading IP solicitor describes Mitcheson as "an embryo Simon Thorley", saying: "He is very calm, he never overstates things and he is very highly regarded by the judiciary because they know they can trust him."

Other IP lawyers say Mitcheson is extremely good with clients, very dependable.

"He is very thorough and systematic and will probably do extremely well," says one IP solicitor.

Mitcheson's reported cases include Fujitsu Application (patent); Mark Wilkinson v Woodcraft (design right); and EMAP v Security Publications (copyright and passing off).

Over the next nine months he is scheduled to appear on behalf of Kimberly Clarke, 3M and Merck & Co.