Interview with Per Josefson, Partner of the practice group Intellectual Property, Marketing and Media.
From Mannheimer Swartling's Sustainability Report 2016.
What do you, as an intellectual property lawyer, work with?
Intellectual property law consists of the legal rules regarding, among others, patents, trade secrets, trademarks and copyrights. I work mainly with intellectual property disputes and agreements. Ultimately, this is about defending and commercialising the client company's research and development, brands and designs in a global market, but it can also involve defending a client company against competitors' attacks.
The legal profession is perceived as conservative and old-fashioned – has it been a problem that you are gay?
I believe and hope that it is totally irrelevant in relation to my work. Being gay has slowly but surely become a non-issue in the legal profession as in others. In particular, English and American law firms have led the way. My own experience of Swedish, Western European and American business life is essentially positive in terms of attitudes to homosexuality. Sadly, this is not the case everywhere in the world. As recently as a few years ago, I was at a dinner party in one of the world's largest cities when someone suddenly asked if I was gay. I replied yes, following which the person who had asked the question (a business lawyer) said I should be grateful that he did not immediately leave the table. Unfortunately, such incidents are common in certain countries.
What advice would you give younger colleagues who contribute, in one way or another, to increased diversity?
First and foremost, I don't believe one should dwell too much on whether one fits into a given "template". Take a closer look and you will find very few people do. Dare to be open-minded and believe that diversity is enriching. Never accept discrimination and be particularly vigilant never to discriminate against others yourself.
Why is sexual orientation an issue in Sweden in 2017?
Every day, people around the world are humiliated and abused because of their sexuality. In some countries, people are imprisoned and executed because they were born homosexual. Of course this is an issue. As long as there are people who do not dare to be open about who they are and feel accepted and respected, this is an issue here as well.