Law Firm Manager Anne Suutala, who takes care of administrative tasks, marketing communications and also client assignments in a paralegal role at Kaulo & Partners, has followed the IPR industry and its development for 17 years. The years include numerous shared client stories, lessons learned and a special wish: It would be great to see more internationally known, successful brands from Finland!

The IPR field has become special in my career. And not just because the last 17 years are the longest continuous period in my series of work experiences in this same industry. It is also special because the entire industry is so special with its special experts. I have learned to value experience and expertise. A CEO of a startup company I once interviewed summed it up memorably:

"IPR is clearly one of those special areas of expertise that you shouldn't try to learn on your own."

Important words in the IPR and legal field: expertise and trust

It feels great and privileged that over the years I have been able to cooperate with so many lawyers and patent attorneys who have been awarded for their expertise. I have realized that the best experts stand out not only because of their substantive knowledge and experience, but also because they are “good guys”. They are able to build partnership and trust with their clients.

Trust is a r-e-a-l-l-y important factor in this field. That's why expert companies should value their best experts who also excel in client work. I have seen how, in situations of change, clients often follow their trusted partners. Things are running smoothly, an uncomplicated way of communication has already emerged, the partner knows the special features of the industry, and no time is wasted explaining things. A familiar legal and IP partner simply makes your own work easier!

Practical advice and good communication play a big role in building trust. Handling complex IP matters must be as smooth and easy as possible for busy clients. In growth companies, the pace is fast, so the partner must also be able to react quickly when needed. Clients appreciate lawyers from whom they receive action recommendations that are properly measured in relation to the company's resources, well-reasoned, in an understandable format, without legal jargon, anticipating risks. The responsibility of an expert is also to dare to say if something is not worth taking forward in the company.

The jump to Kaulo & Partners was a ”boost”

When Jani Kaulo told me about his decision to establish a law firm that "looks like himself" and to jump from a large IPR specialist firm to an entrepreneur, I was quite convinced that he, if anyone, could bring something new to this field.

I was also quite happy that he saw me as a person who would fit into the Kaulo & Partners team. Since the whole team was already familiar to me, all being experts I value and nice colleagues, why not? Appreciation, trust, open communication and playing for a common goal are important values in work communities. At Kaulo & Partners, they come true as if by nature, without effort or forced thinking about the company's values.

Before Kaulo & Partners, my perspective on the IPR industry was born through communications and marketing tasks. I had also had the opportunity to familiarize myself with trademark renewals and transfers of international trademark clients during an intensive work period of six months, so maintaining trademark portfolios was also a familiar task.

At Kaulo & Partners, my tasks are diverse. I take care of all the office duties that free up the time of our lawyers Jani and Maria Puronvarsi and brand protection specialist Karolina Tallberg for expert and client work. My tasks include financial management, HR and marketing – and as our operations grow, more client work in a paralegal role.

Working with brands has been a boost. Brands fascinate me. I'm just a little saddened that, for example, Swedish brands are visible so much more in international markets, both in the street scene and in shopping centres. If only we had more internationally successful Finnish brands!

Brands are important in all industries, for all companies

Fortunately, great client stories and brands of the future already exist. In my work, I have had the opportunity to interview many CEOs of startups and SMEs, as well as representatives of large companies responsible for IPR matters from many different industries. I am impressed by all the great innovations, the results of creative work and smart business ideas that can be found in Finland! My appreciation for Finnish engineering and quality brands has increased dramatically. I also have a lot of respect for all entrepreneurs.

Big insights from the IPR field are the importance of brands and trademarks in creating value. In technology companies, patents often come first, but the brand can also be super important for technology companies. One owner-CEO summed it up nicely:

"In the engineering industry, it is easy to traditionally think that tangible products and factories are the most valuable assets of companies. But it is not like that. For us, the most valuable asset is an internationally known brand, which is combined with demanding products and the ability to provide special services."

I'm also impressed by the arresting comment of a research and IPR director at a patent-intensive company: "The most important IPR asset for a company is the brand. I put it above patents because the brand is global and has no expiration date."

The sharp observation of a founder of a startup company targeting licensing business and partnerships also gives food for thought: "Without IP rights, my small company has nothing to sell."

Direction of my career took time − longing for abroad led to language studies

When I was young, I envied people who were clear about the direction of their studies or what profession they were aiming for. The only thing that was clear to me was that I wanted a university degree. One of the important values of my childhood home was getting a good education, because my own parents didn't have the opportunity to study.

In secondary high school, my strengths were languages and practically all general subjects except mathematics. I sought direction and inspiration for further studies in Stockholm, where I worked in a kindergarten for almost a year as a home language teacher for children of Finnish background. Languages and internationality interested me, but not really pedagogy. The longing for an international atmosphere that I connected with languages and a big coincidence finally led me to translator studies in the University of Vaasa. I chose law and administration as my area of specialization - maybe that was already an indication of my interest in the IPR field and working in a law firm in the future?

I have learned to appreciate engineers and lawyers

Internship as a Swedish language translator in the service of the Finnish Defense Forces caused the first seed of doubt to sprout, whether I really wanted to do a lonely job as a translator. After that, I worked on English translations of technical transformer brochures for half a year at ABB, and I already knew the answer. However, ABB gave me great opportunities for new versatile tasks within the group. The first 11 years of my career flew quickly, first in export sales in Vaasa and later in corporate communications in Helsinki. At ABB, I really learned to appreciate Finnish engineering skills.

After ABB sold its rail transport related operations, I was invited into a multi-functional role at the international rail transport company Bombardier Transportation (now Alstom). I took care of communications, marketing, HR tasks - and somewhat unexpectedly I found myself also doing translation work related to contract negotiations, extensive supply contracts and contract amendments concerning the Group's two major rail transport projects in Finland: low-floor trams and new generation electric locomotives.

In 2005, the time was right to jump off the train and find a new direction. It was found in the IPR field. In the IPR field, in addition to patent attorneys, I've learned to value qualified lawyers as well - all those "good guys" that clients want to follow.

”Brought by train” to Helsinki  roots in South Ostrobothnia

"In the countryside, people have roads and villages named after their own last names, this never ceases to amaze the city people," wrote journalist Anna-Stina Nykänen from Helsingin Sanomat in her article series ”Know Finland”.

The observation makes me laugh and comes close. I was born in South Ostrobothnia in the municipality of Töysä in the village of Suutala, I learned to read and write in the Suutala elementary school, and the address of my birthplace is Suutalantie. Own village, own road, own school. From this rural environment, I have made my "train journey" into a city dweller and a resident of Helsinki. Now, after more than 30 years, I can probably already say that I am from Helsinki. For the past 20 years, my husband and I have lived in an urban style in Pasila, on the corners of the Mall of Tripla.

My parents had a "too small" farm by today's standards, which nevertheless brought the family a living. As a child of the sixties, I especially remember the summers of my teenage years filled with physical work. We three daughters worked hard in the fields and as tractor drivers helping our father, while our mother took care of the cows, housework, and our little brother. One of the most important lessons from my childhood is that it is everyone's duty to strive for the common good. I have learned to appreciate hard work, diligence, and entrepreneurship.

My hobbies reveal where my roots are

I remember my mother saying that "Anne was born to be a city dweller". And yes, I had a strong longing for the city, from the countryside to bigger circles, where you don't walk in rubber boots, and aesthetics and elegance also have a value.

But when I think about my hobbies, they still seem pretty down-to-earth. I enjoy tinkering at the summer cottage, picking berries and mushrooms, baking, and cooking at home, and going for walks. The best part of my childhood summers was swimming, and swimming is still my favourite form of exercise. Whenever I get a burst of energy, I try to maintain my muscle strength in the gym.

My sisters and my friends have said that "Anne was born in the wrong country". And it's true, I can never get enough of the sun's warmth and glow, and I dream of sunny vacations, especially to Asia. I relax best and get into a holiday mood when the temperature exceeds 30 degrees. My favourite colour is sunny yellow. During the corona pandemic, I've been missing winter holiday trips to Asia.

Nowadays, my attitude towards the countryside is appreciative and nostalgic. When I see cows in the fields, I am moved. When journalist Anna-Stina Nykänen from Helsingin Sanomat wrote about the painfully big challenges of small family farms in her article "Farmer's pain" as part of the ”Know Finland” series, I burst into tears. The roots in the countryside seem to grow deep, although I feel comfortable in my high heels on the asphalt − enjoying all the happy moments of life while sipping my favourite drink, champagne.