Laura Fresco of Hoyng Rokh Monegier in the Netherlands talks about her career in IP law, two interesting client matters in the past 18 months, and life outside work.
When did you decide to pursue a career in law?
Since high school, I have been fascinated by the way we use the law to shape society. Initially, I didn’t want to study law, though, because my father is a lawyer and I needed to find my own path. Then I took my first law classes and participated in a student moot court and thought "this is it", much to the amusement of my father.
Why did you choose IP law?
IP law allows me to combine my passion for law and the arts. I like to help protect people’s creations and love the fact that IP law is so dynamic and international. The interplay between intellectual property and, for instance, new technologies or constitutional rights makes it a very interesting field.
How did you get into the IP profession? Did you experience significant challenges?
After a student internship, I was lucky to start my career as a lawyer in the IP department of De Brauw Blackstone Westbroek, a renowned Dutch law firm.
I loved it but wanted to broaden my horizons so in the following years I also practised corporate law and general litigation and worked with law firms abroad. Eleven years ago, I returned to the Netherlands and fully dedicated myself to IP law. For me, it has been an organic process rather than following a fixed career path.
Why and/or how did you join your current firm?
It was simple: When I found out that the best IP lawyers in Europe, including some of my former colleagues, had started their own firm back in 2011, I knew I had to join Hoyng Rokh Monegier!
What do you enjoy most about working for your firm?
It’s a pleasure to work with a very diverse and international team of IP professionals. We challenge and inspire each other, and it’s a lot of fun too.
What makes your role/work fulfilling? Why do you enjoy IP work?
No day is the same. My clients trust me to help develop and strengthen their brands and creations and defend them in court if necessary. I enjoy resolving complex cross-border IP issues in a strategic, efficient, and business-oriented manner.
What career advice would you give to women interested in joining the IP profession and getting to your position?
Ask why you want to pursue a career in IP. For me, it's the innate curiosity and passion for creation and innovation. It’s easy to get distracted by things like status or money or to be intimidated by the ‘old boys' network’.
Doing things your own way is a strength! This mindset also really helped me to connect with women facing similar challenges, both within and outside the legal profession.
What is your most memorable piece of work as an IP practitioner?
Each case has its own peculiarities and memorable moments! My fondest memories are the cases where I really made a difference for the client. I vividly recall my first cross-border injunction and seizure of counterfeit goods as well.
Could you briefly share two interesting client matters you handled within the past 18 months?
I worked on a very complex international trade mark case concerning a famous vodka brand. This year, we recovered the trade marks in various countries in an unprecedented cross-border litigation in the Netherlands.
In another case, for instance, I obtained a favourable judgment for our client, which helped to resolve a lengthy and emotionally charged IP dispute between two former business partners from the US and Asia.
Did you find any part of the work you have just described uniquely challenging? If so, what were the challenges and how did you overcome them?
Having to familiarise myself with 13 different legal systems in the context of cross-border litigation was a challenge, but it was also very interesting and an opportunity to work with talented experts and colleagues.
What qualities and skills are required to do your job?
First, communication and listening skills. Having an analytical mind helps, and it’s a plus if you can work well under pressure.
What key principles do you follow or use to deliver the best possible outcome(s) for a client?
Tailor-made solutions. I always try to familiarize myself with the client’s business and products or services to understand their needs and which IP strategies work best for them.
What if things don’t go or aren’t going according to plan, what keeps you going or motivated?
To quote Dorothy Field’s lyrics from the 1936 song called "Pick Yourself Up": “Don't lose your confidence if you slip. Be grateful for a pleasant trip, and pick yourself up, dust yourself off, start all over again!” We live by learning.
Are you working on any interesting project(s) outside your firm? If so, please tell us a little bit about the project and why you care about it.
I just completed a 2,500km solo hike from Northern Italy to Sicily, as a tribute to a dear friend who passed away last year. It was an amazing experience and a reminder that our minds and bodies are capable of so much more than we tend to think.
What is your favourite food and sport?
I’m a bit of a foodie and love to sample different cuisines, but Italian food is always high on my list – simple ingredients and lots of flavour. For sports, cross-fit or boot camp-style workouts help me to counter all that sitting behind a desk. I love hiking and cycling, too.
What is your favourite hobby?
Apart from sports, travelling, cooking, and reading.
Could you share a fun and interesting fact about yourself?
I like to start the day with a little dance to my favourite music; it makes me smile and reminds me not to take myself too seriously.
Fresco is a lawyer who specialises in soft IP law. She became a partner at Hoyng Rokh Monegier (Netherlands) in January 2017. Read more about Fresco here.