Being a woman in FICPI during the coronavirus crisis

I am one of a few FICPI women who were contacted by FICPI’s Editorial Board and asked to “volunteer” to write a blog on the topic of ‘women in FICPI’. In the meantime, the coronavirus health crisis ignited and the topic turned into the following question: what’s it like to be a woman in FICPI – meaning being a partner in an IP firm while working from home… In addition to the first challenge of being a woman in FICPI (aaargh), a second challenge appeared, working-at-home. 

Let me introduce myself briefly:

As you will have understood, I am a woman. I have been a member of FICPI for 10 years already (wow! time flies…) and a FICPI officer for 5 years. I am a partner in a family-size IP firm located in Paris. I live there (great city isn’t it?). I am a single mother of 2 ‘children’ who are 15 and 18.

Are you getting the picture?

My firm has been working remotely since 19th March this year, due to the government measures that we must all comply with.

So, since 19th March, I have worked from home. But I don’t only work from home, I run the firm from home… and work from home… and run the house. I deal with my clients, take care of staff issues, try to keep people together and preferably happy, pay attention to them, set up new procedures in these very unique times, etc. The business part of my life used to be concentrated into one single time slot each day, depending on the number of working hours per day. But now it’s obviously completely different and it’s actually all mixed up. How is it possible to think straight?

Starting in the morning is actually the easiest part. But when the children wake up, around 11am (how lucky they are!), the day becomes highly unusual and I realise we are living strange times!

My 18-year-old daughter studies abroad and fortunately she was already in Paris when the lockdown was announced. Otherwise, how could a Jewish mother survive, with her eldest away from home?!

So, despite the fact that she decided to leave home and be on her own, she is now forced to bear with us! I am very happy but also confused to have her at home again, craving the independence she had just started to get… this is another complexity to deal with as a mother and as a woman.

My 15-year-old son likes order, schedules, and routine. If he doesn’t have these things, like recently when it was school holidays, it is tough on him… and consequently on me/us!

Besides, when your children need you, they need you! What other priority could you have as a mother when they ask for your help in economics or in German, preparing an oral exam in Spanish, reviewing an essay in contemporary politics, when they are starving (!) or need their shorts ironed?!

In those instances, I am sorry to admit it but business/clients/FICPI can wait…

So, the day is completely fragmented and does not really have a clear shape anymore.

Because as a working (“executive”?) woman and a single mother, you have to take care of EVERYTHING!! Business, clients, staff, management, communication (hey we are still alive!), groceries, cooking, household, laundry, ironing, education (still), psychological support, family harmony and everyone’s wellbeing! Is there still time to read? Time to watch the wonderful film ‘The Shop Around the Corner’?

And this is only what happens at home; not to mention parents, brother, nieces, friends, former significant other; the future and its uncertainties, etc.

So I work on a, let’s say “flexible schedule”, and get rid of anything that is frivolous. Sometimes I feel like (no, not like a motherless child with this great guitar solo by Prince, who by the way died 4 years ago today, 21 April 2020, I drop a tear) I am a “wonder woman” but my head is about to explode! My life is currently hectic and crazy, sometimes it’s so quiet outside because of the lockdown, even in the centre of Paris, and on the contrary it’s so busy in my apartment.

These few weeks are one of a kind. When I step back, I realise how positive this is in terms of human relationships and how much you can learn about others, but also about yourself.

This is true as a mother, this is true as a woman and a partner, having to lead people and to encounter good surprises such as people standing out in difficult situations.

How am I going to be able to go back to the office? Just kidding.

Next steps 

  • Keep an eye on your inbox for details of our upcoming webinars on topics from keeping a healthy mind during lockdown to business development using LinkedIn. Listen live or on-demand at a time that suits you. 
  • Visit the resources and links we’ve developed for coping with the ‘new normal’ brought about by coronavirus: https://ficpi.org/covid-19-resources
  • Join FICPI’s LinkedIn Group where you can talk online with fellow members about opportunities and challenges: https://www.linkedin.com/groups/2214472/

How FICPI makes IP attorneys more effective 

FICPI offers the ideal environment to build strong connections and relationships with peers around the world, bonding with other independent IP attorneys over a strong shared interest, proving invaluable at times such as this. 

Whilst in-person events are not currently possible, FICPI continues to bring members insights from the community through webinars, blogs and newsletter articles.