Five minutes with … Monique Ferrer, Alfaro, Ferrer & Ramírez
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Five minutes with … Monique Ferrer, Alfaro, Ferrer & Ramírez

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Each week Managing IP speaks to a different IP lawyer about their life and career

Welcome to the latest instalment of Managing IP’s ‘Five minutes with’ series, where we learn more about IP lawyers on a personal as well as a professional level. This time we have Monique Ferrer, partner at Alfaro, Ferrer & Ramírez in Panama.

Someone asks you at a party what you do for a living. What do you say?

I am a lawyer, specialising in intellectual property, which means everything related to trademarks, slogans, patents, designs, copyright, and everything brand related. This involves not only helping clients secure, register, or protect their rights but also helping them enforce those rights against third parties that seek to take advantage. I also prevent my clients from unknowingly affecting other people’s rights.

Normally people who are not related to the IP world find the term ‘intellectual property’ intimidating, so I always try to briefly explain what it is about with examples and common words.

Talk us through a typical working day.

I exercise first thing in the morning. I admit that this is not because I love exercising, but doing it as soon as I wake up, takes it out of my way!

After that, I get ready to go to the office (we are 100% in-person again after the pandemic), check all my e-mails and answer those that can be responded to immediately. When I am done, I dive into the more complicated ones that require more time and concentration, such as legal opinions, revisions of legislation, preparing writs to be submitted to the court or administrative authority, and discussions with my colleagues. Normally meetings are scheduled in advance so they are mostly held by Teams or Zoom since most of my clients are abroad.

What are you working on at the moment?

I am preparing service proposals and quotations for tender, and opinions or memorandums for clients. I am also preparing for hearings at the Supreme Court of Justice and foreseeing and coordinating prosecution work.

Does one big piece of work usually take priority or are you juggling multiple things?

Mostly I am juggling millions of things at a time. However, there is always time in my day dedicated to special matters whether related to IP, life sciences and regulations, or administrative work.

What is the most exciting aspect of your role and what is the most stressful?

The most exciting is that you get to see different things every day, there is never a dull moment since you get to handle (and learn from) several cases and different matters at the same time.

The most stressful is definitively the fact that almost every aspect of my work involves deadlines. It is always stressful to comply with all of them with good timing, quality, and responsibility.

Tell us the key characteristics that make a successful IP lawyer/practitioner.

You must be very organised. As I mentioned, there are always pending deadlines, and being an organised person and paying attention to detail is essential to being successful in IP or any other career. Always seek to deliver timely responses or advice, but without compromising quality.

Also, one thing that I consider priceless is always having direct contact with the clients, as well as having a very prepared team that works with me. It is important that the clients feel nurtured and heard by the head of the department.

What is the most common misconception about IP?

That our job only consists of registering trademarks or patents!

What or who inspires you?

All the women in my family. Starting with my two grandmothers, followed by my mother and my aunts. All of them juggled full-time work with being mothers and wives. It was hard on all of them but they did an amazing job as women in the profession and as loving mothers, always in charge of all the details within their home. They inspire me to follow the same path so perhaps one day I can make my kids (and hopefully grandchildren) proud and inspired by me and what I have achieved.

If you weren’t in IP, what would you be doing?

Before IP (while I was still in law school), I used to work as a paralegal in employment law. It is a fascinating matter, very dynamic and I liked it during the time I had the opportunity to work on it. Therefore, I would probably still be doing that if I hadn’t fallen in love with IP.

Any advice you would give your younger self?

Do not ever let the obstacles along the road discourage you from your goals. In the end, every tear dropped, every late night worked, and every drop of sweat pays off. You just have to be disciplined, persistent, responsible, and always have faith in yourself and your capabilities.

Never hesitate to ask for help if you need it.

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