Kim Pietersen joined CWB’s Dubai office as an associate in 2022. Since joining CWB’s trade mark team, Kim has applied her IP knowledge and experience that has been garnered over the course of approximately 5 years towards assisting with trade mark and copyright matters in the region.
Life at CWB
Why did you join CWB?
Intellectual property law is arguably the most creative field of law, and Dubai no doubt one of the most luxurious and innovative cities in the world.
Joining CWB was therefore not only a strategic career move to expand my IP knowledge and experience in a region as diverse as MENA, but also an opportunity for a change of scenery that would position me in a “city of the future” that is ever-growing with global brands setting up local offices and therefore requiring regional IP assistance with an international outlook.
What do you most enjoy doing at work?
Working completely paperless! I mean think about it: emails, client trade mark portfolios and files, meetings, practice management tools, all accessible digitally from every corner of the globe. A game changer no doubt.
But to make my response more colourful, I’ll add that overall I enjoy working within the truly diverse and inclusive culture of CWB. To illustrate this, a typical day involves my working closely with individuals of all levels (e.g. partners, associates, paralegals, consultants, administrators, etc.); who are located in any one of our number of offices (Dubai, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Qatar, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia); or who find themselves in any one of the 22 countries in which we service our clients in the Middle East and North America; and who therefore speak different languages and observe different religious and other national holidays, to name a few examples.
Describe the working environment at CWB.
Fast-paced; intellectually stimulating; exciting client IP portfolios; and socials/networking events with views.
To place the last point into context: our Headquarters in Dubai is on the 47th floor – need I say more?
What are the biggest challenges you face daily considering your position in the firm?
As mentioned, my role as an associate within CWB has me interacting with a number of stakeholders to ensure the protection of our clients’ global IP portfolios across numerous jurisdictions. Challenges therefore range from time differences to discrepancies in regional IP practices. Of course, this also makes my role all the more dynamic and exciting!
What has been the biggest lesson you have learned in your career to date?
Learning never stops.
What is your biggest career achievement to date?
Considering that IP is extremely niche, a particular achievement that I am proud of is breaking into the industry in South Africa in 2017, after not having studied IP in South Africa nor having conducted my candidate attorney training with an IP law firm.
What got me in you may ask? Tenacity and passion.
Why did you choose a career in law?
To be honest, my family probably chose this career path for me before I did, and they based it on my love for words, speaking in particular, reasoning in general. I, however, intended to be a television presenter.
The outcome? I studied an undergraduate degree in Performing Arts, a post degree in Law, and I ultimately chose a career in IP law thinking that it would loosely marry my creative interests and analytical aptitudes.
How would you say the industry in the Middle East differs from other jurisdictions?
From an IP perspective, largely that IP laws and protections in a particular jurisdiction do not necessarily mean predictable enforcement outcomes for our clients. The reasons for this vary from subjective applications of IP laws and interpretations, to socio-political struggles and challenges.
I do add that managing these jurisdictional peculiarities is one of the areas in which CWB thrives and certainly one of our “value added” differentiators. In the paraphrased words of our Head of IP of CWB, Theuns Van De Merwe: in the MENA region, CWB assumes certain regional “growth pains” that effectively safeguard our clients’ IP and ensures their peace of mind.
On the inside
If you could meet any person alive or dead in the world, who would it be? And why?
I cannot say. I always find answering such questions difficult.
What do you like to do in your free time? What are your hobbies?
So much. Let’s limit to: relaxing with loved ones, and being creative.
Describe yourself in three words.
Practical, relentless and human.
One last word
Aside from necessities, what one thing could you not go a day without?
A good sense of humour.
What was the last book you read? Which is your all-time favourite one?
To be honest, I’ve not read in a while. I last listened to a good audio book of James Clear though, Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones.
And because I try not to have “all-time” favourites, one of my favourites is Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead.
Is there anything you are still hoping to achieve?
What advice would you give anybody starting out in the industry?
In 2016, my first year out of university working full time at a law firm in the Mother City (Cape Town, South Africa), I wrote an article for a South African attorneys’ journal titled Young Attorneys As Brands. My opening paragraph:
The expression, ‘starting at the bottom of the food chain’, is a familiar tune to any candidate attorney. Having just graduated from law school, one steps into the workplace with scattered recollections of legal knowledge, which proves insufficient. If young attorneys can realise that their lack of book knowledge at that time is okay; and they focus their efforts on gaining legal experience, while building a meaningful professional network during their articles, they can be sure to move up the corporate ladder.
I still believe this to be true 6 years later, so this is the advice I’d share.