Gabriela Bodden, Partner, E-Proint
How long have you been working for your current company?
3 years, 6 months.
Briefly explain your career history and what led you to your current position.
I’ve been in the Intellectual Property field for over fourteen years. As a student I worked at a small IP Firm where I gained a passion for this area of law. My graduate thesis was conducted in the IP field and obtained an honours distinction. I later went on to work for a Firm in the Caribbean for seven years. Following my decision to pursue a LLM in Intellectual Property Law I moved to Costa Rica in 2008 and later joined E-Proint. I became partner recently.
What is your proudest professional achievement and why?
My proudest professional achievement would be obtaining an LLM in Intellectual Property Law and practising law at E-Proint. This company is made up of a young team of professionals all eager to grow and learn more. Although each case is unique and challenging it is precisely this diversity that makes work so much more interesting!
I’ve come to continue to build the firm’s international intellectual property practice into a unique niche in the market composed of a team of professionals that speak four languages, that hold LLMs in IP Law and with the help of the best software we are able to oversee and manage complex international IP portfolios throughout the Latin-American and Caribbean region. We represent a broad range of clients, in a wide variety of industries and I have a passion for doing what I do!
What are the greatest challenges that you face in your current role and what do you do to overcome them?
My position entails an important work load and the management of the intellectual property practice in the Caribbean region which roughly covers over 30 countries. Knowing in detail the operation of the law in each jurisdiction and being able to counsel clients in all jurisdictions can become a challenge on a daily basis. Each day represents a new challenge to me as our clientele is increasing as is its diversity.
Overcoming these challenges is not an easy task, it requires constant research and much reading, it entails delegation of work.
I usually write numerous articles in both Spanish and English that are published in magazines highly prized within the field. This article writing role aids in the overcoming various challenges as important research becomes a necessity.
How difficult is it for you personally to attain work-life balance and how do you endeavour to do this?
My career is very important to me and I absolutely love what I do. To obtain a balance between work-live I practice beading as it is a stress reducer! I also enjoy travelling with my husband and family.
Did you have a mentor or role model in your career or while you were studying law? Who were they and how did they help you?
I did not specifically have a mentor, I’ve always been a person that sets goals and works hard to obtain them. When I decided to study law I aimed to become not just an attorney, my goal was to be recognised within the field, I wished to leave a footprint in the sand. This objective is present in my everyday life and professionally speaking I demand excellence not only from myself but also from my team of professionals.
How effective do you think corporate diversity initiatives are? What methods do you think are most effective and why?
Responding to corporate diversity requires a strategic response on the part of an organization taking into account its internal and external needs (business priorities), and entails responding with a strategically aligned approach. All corporations should be held accountable for the implementation of the initiatives and should count with visible support from top management as this will evidence its overall success.
Partners and management should get more involved with junior attorneys and should mentor them so that they can in future aim to become partners. A work environment should not be overly strict, there must be some sort of flexibility, a balance must be found.
The methods that I consider to be more effective include but are not limited to improving corporate culture, the recruitment of new highly trained employees, continuous employee training, the improvement of client relations and client management all of which translates into improved productivity and satisfied clients.
Were there any points in your career when you felt you were at a disadvantage or at an advantage because you were female?
Independently if studies show or not that women are now outnumbering men among college graduates, a woman’s professional role tends to be a little more demanding. Why? It’s simple, women are often faced with having to prove themselves as professionals!
Being a fairly young professional demands deeper knowledge and one must prove to clients doubly. In any work environment there must be a balance, and this is where a female professional’s role is so very essential.
Along my career I have found that convincing clients that I am the right professional to handle their matters is a given as one client recommends the next, the key is satisfied customers. The intellectual property field is a small community, it about instilling confidence and results!
What do you think have been the most significant changes for women in the legal industry over the past five years?
Women conduct an important role in the legal profession. In recent years, technology has grown and improved tremendously and this no doubt poses a challenge not only to women but also men. We’ve moved from basic computers and mobile phones to the most advanced machines that allows teleworking without affecting results.