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Paraguay     Intellectual Property

Inspiring Women In Law - An interview with Barbara Dollstadt: intellectual property, a challenging field in Latin America that is being transformed by technology 

Marina Vanni

Latin Counsel spoke with Barbara Dollstadt, administrative litigation and intellectual property (IP) specialist at Berkemeyer’s Paraguay office, about the IP challenges in Latin America, the keys to addressing these issues with clients, and the changes that advances such as artificial intelligence (AI) are driving. The lawyer, recognized by Chambers & Partners, reviewed her career and values and provided advice for women professionals in the legal field. 

Latin Counsel: What got you interested in law and how would you sum up your career in three words?

Barbara Dollstadt:
I have always been very curious and felt a calling to defend people’s interests. Also, the commercial world has always attracted me a lot, and in Intellectual Property I find a harmonious balance between the two.

If I had to summarize my career in three words, they would be: perseverance, commitment and passion. Perseverance, knowing that achievements are not immediate, and to meet objectives and goals, you must create a long-term project and work tirelessly on it. Only with perseverance can the proposed goals be achieved. Commitment, because I firmly believe that only with commitment can projects move forward. One must get involved with the ideals, hold firmly to them, and use them as drivers to move forward. In the same way, one must also be committed to the client and put one’s shirt on to defend their interests. And finally, passion, because passion is the ingredient that makes the rest happen naturally. It is this passion that guides us, and that I feel has driven me all these years.
LC: How did you grow within Berkemeyer?

My career at Berkemeyer started as a law student, in my senior year. I worked as a morning and afternoon intern, and in the evenings, I went to college. I remember how difficult it was to balance studies, work, and my personal life as a young woman just starting out in her professional career.

As my career progressed, I went to train abroad, and I also had the brilliant and exceptional opportunity to work with mentors within the Firm, who became the best teachers I could have had. It was thanks to this experience that I was able to understand the importance of mentoring. I consider mentoring one of the most important ways to grow professionally and if you are lucky enough to find a mentor who is generous in sharing his or her experience and know-how, and who, at the same time, gives you certain freedoms and encourages you to think out of the box or in a less conventional way, your development as a professional is more exponential.
LC: As an expert in the area of administrative litigation, could you tell us about a challenging case you have worked on at Berkemeyer?

We encounter challenging cases every day, depending on the lens through which we look at them. Sometimes, we might consider new launches and the regulation behind them as challenging cases. I enjoy getting to know and accompany clients in the details, our role as lawyers is to safeguard and protect the client’s interests, and sometimes we have to slow things down to avoid taking unnecessary risks. This is without detracting from efficiency and speed, of course. I also find multi-jurisdictional litigation challenging, where we must adapt the strategy to each local legislation, regulation and practice.
LC: As an IP specialist, how do you handle client relationships, particularly for complex or sensitive IP cases?

First of all, I really like to get involved in the goals and get into the corporate mind of the client in order to understand their needs, how they operate and even the corporate culture of each company. It is these observations and this empathy that I believe allows me to work towards excellence. Intellectual property is an intangible asset of the company, but a highly valued one, and it is my role to give the client the security and certainty that I value it as much as he does.
LC: What IP challenges do you detect in Latin America?

An important challenge I think is the need for continuous training of IP authorities and the need for specialized courts.

As for the private sector, while I think it is always good to raise awareness about the value of IP assests protection, and the businesses that can derive from it, such as licensing or franchising, among many others. I am pleased to see how IP protection is not limited only to large corporations. More and more companies, particularly MSMEs or independent entrepreneurs, are becoming aware of the added value that IP can add to their products and services.  
LC: What trends and changes do you think are coming in the IP field as a result of technology and developments such as AI?

Technology advances and always proposes changes and new trends. We are the ones who determine what to do with it.  We can use it to our advantage to streamline, and/or solve specific situations, we can benefit from it without a doubt. We have to be dynamic to remain in a competitive position in the market, and invest permanently in training and systems to optimize resources and stay ahead of changes.
LC: What personal (non-professional) achievements are you most proud of?

Definitely, what I am most proud of is my family. I have been married for 21 years, and I have 2 daughters: Giuliana, 16, and Mariana, 10. Balancing my professional life with my family life has been a constant challenge throughout my career, but one that has been very worthwhile. I feel that it is precisely perseverance, commitment and my passion that drives me to be a better person for them. At the end of the day, there is no greater satisfaction than seeing my family united and happy.

Friendship is also something that I value greatly, it is the family that one chooses. Throughout these years, I chose to share with my friends and take care of them. Today, I can say that I feel safe, and it is with them that I can truly enjoy myself. I like to enjoy the good times knowing that they will also be there when I need them and I am proud that they are part of my life and to be able to call friends people who, like me, seek to be better for themselves and theirs.
LC: What advice would you give to professional women who aspire to grow in their respective careers in the legal field?

It is very important for a woman to create a personal brand that has ingredients that make her unique. It is equally important to never lose ethics and to support each other as women. Based on my experience, I recommend seeking out a mentor.  Having someone to guide and accompany you as you make your way is wonderful. And it is equally wonderful to continue with this legacy that one receives, and to become a mentor as well, to give another young professional this gift. And finally, "to be faithful to what exists within you!  

Learn more about Bárbara Dollstadt


Interview: Marina Vanni

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