Five minutes with…Julia Holden, Trevisan & Cuonzo
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Five minutes with…Julia Holden, Trevisan & Cuonzo

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Julia Holden explains why, if she weren’t in IP, she would be directing and producing live English-language theatre

Welcome to the latest instalment of Managing IP’s ‘Five minutes with’ series, where we learn more about IP practitioners on a personal as well as a professional level. This time we have Julia Holden, partner at Trevisan & Cuonzo in Milan.

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

I answer that I am a British and Italian qualified lawyer specialised in brand protection which means I take legal steps to ensure that an international brand’s name and reputation are fully protected in the Italian jurisdiction.

Over the last 30 years, together with my Italian colleagues at Trevisan & Cuonzo, we have acted for many internationally renowned brands including BMW, Sky, Harley-Davidson, Nivea, Diesel, Unilever, Bulgari, and Chanel to name a few.

I have also assisted many clients with copyright and design protection and enforcement.

Talk us through a typical working day.

Arriving around 9 to 9:30am I usually start the day with a coffee and a review of my email inbox.

Depending on what projects I have going on determines where I put my energy.

I divide my time between client work, which I will usually carry out together with our various firm associates, trademark committee work (I am a member of INTA and Marques), and other managerial and marketing tasks.

I usually have a light lunch and work through the afternoon until around 7pm. Weather permitting I like to cycle to work. Luckily my kids are grown up so I no longer have to rush off to sports clubs or ballet lessons. My Italian husband loves cooking so he takes charge of dinner most days. I often end the day with a catch-up on news or a film.

What are you working on at the moment?

I am working for several international clients whose brands have been infringed by other Italian brand owners. My role as partner is to ensure that oppositions are filed in a timely manner and that any pleadings are drafted in a way to best protect the interests of our clients. I often oversee correspondence drafted with a view to monetary settlement.

I prioritise client work over any other work.

As Head of International Marketing and Business Development at the firm, I also oversee planned conferences organised by the firm in Italy together with our head of Italian marketing, decide, with colleagues, what conferences we will attend, oversee regular article writing among associates and arrange general marketing training for senior associates, associates, and trainees.

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

I am always juggling multiple tasks but very much enjoy it if a larger piece of work is presented to me. It is interesting to delegate work to a team - especially an international team - and then see it come together to serve the client’s best interests.

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

The most exciting aspect of my role is undoubtedly travelling to international conferences and meeting colleagues from around the world with a view to setting up reciprocal working arrangements to serve our clients most effectively both in Italy and abroad.

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

An IP lawyer needs to be both accessible and friendly towards clients and colleagues while also able to focus on tasks that require excellent written skills and precision in facing legal documentation in disputes scenarios.

Negotiating skills are key: being able to reach the very best outcome for your client requires skill in argumentation, tenacity, and good perception.

What is the most common misconception about IP?

A misconception about trademark law is that it is straightforward. To be a good trademark lawyer requires an understanding of the legal concepts and some years of practice to appreciate how it actually works.

Learning how to work with colleagues well and get the best results from them also takes time. The most complicated aspect of any job is understanding the person or people you have to deal with, both inside your own firm and adversary colleagues, and - in the case of the latter - managing their level of aggression (on behalf of their client) effectively.

Litigation is often about personalities and power so there is often innate aggression in dispute work. Reducing the aggression means the whole situation becomes easier to manage.

What or who inspires you?

Martin Luther King Jr was an inspirational leader whose words and approach to life move me. I was recently at the Martin Luther King Civil Rights Museum in Atlanta. I now better understand his power and the influence he had in changing segregation laws. His work resulted in amazing positive change for the people in his community.

Helen Mirren, Judy Dench, and Meryl Streep inspire me. They have worked hard to get to the top of their profession in the acting world and play powerful roles yet continue to be themselves. They appear to sit happily in their own skin and be at ease with themselves - a requisite for success.

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

I would be directing and producing live English-language theatre. I currently run a small theatre production company in my spare time that brings British actors to Italy for occasional top-quality shows. If I were not doing IP I would be doing more of that.

Any advice you would give your younger self?

Trust your instincts and ask many questions. If you don’t understand something it is often the case that no one else has understood it either.

Listen, listen, and listen. Always let others speak first. Understand that the best thing you can give to your client is a genuine sense of reassurance that he/she is in capable hands and that you will take on the burden of the dispute and find a resolution to make their life easier.

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