Nicoline Huizinga – The Fashion Lawyer
As a female attorney who is also savvy and passionate about fashion, Nicoline Huizinga gets the “Legally Blonde” thing all the time.
“It is very difficult,” she says. “You are being judged—the way I speak, the way I look, my accent, the way I smile, the way I dress.”
But the avowed fashionista takes such biases and stereotypes in stride, saying that if you can use your difference as an advantage, “then you’re already a step ahead.”
“My tagline is ‘I offer legal advice with a flair,’” says Huizinga of her boutique firm the Fashion Lawyer. “I focus on using clean, lean language, no smoke screens, no fancy words—although I know a lot of fancy words—and always being open and clear.”
“Tailor-made” legal services
Born and based in the Netherlands, Huizinga launched the Fashion Lawyer a decade ago while still in law school and is now dedicating more time and effort to the endeavor—even as, just this August, she joined Foot Locker Europe at its Netherlands headquarters.
Her one-woman firm provides outside and interim general counsel as well as data privacy officer and board member services for several high-end clients. She strives to be a generalist, she says, providing broad legal advice on a range of matters.
“I saw a discrepancy between receiving good legal advice and what the market was offering,” says Huizinga. “Obviously you can always get a lawyer, but they’re very expensive, and they’re usually specialists.”
She has provided advice on retail matters, mergers and acquisitions, joint ventures, incorporations and liquidations, cross-border transactions, corporate governance, compliance—particularly when it comes to Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)—and risk management.
For example, she has helped to settle labor law disputes, establish and bolster company cultures and assist clients dealing with government subsidies. Fittingly, she also helped a client acquire an IP license, trademark their name and set up their own fashion label.
Going forward, she says she hopes to focus more on IP law, and to help startups and smaller companies get off the ground and flourish.
“I do not believe in problems, I believe in challenges,” she says, and works to overcome such hurdles “not by all means necessary,” but with boundaries and integrity. “I’m always trying to find common ground.”
Authenticity, backbone, creativity
A Dutch native who is multilingual—in Dutch, German, English and French—Huizinga grew up practically embedded in fashion: Her mother owned and managed retail stores in the Netherlands that carried middle and high-end fashion labels. Huizinga grew up working in these stores and going to fashion shows and calls herself “lucky” to be raised by a strong, highly-educated mother.
She quips that she always wanted to be “a princess and a lawyer,” and she named her dog after Harvey Specter, the corporate lawyer on “Suits,” because, as she says, “he’s also very creative in his approach and he has guts, he’s not in it for the glory.”
Huizinga boasts a long educational resume, having earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in law from the University of Amsterdam, while also studying and completing courses at Leiden University, Yale University, Duke University and Sorbonne University.
Her career path over the last decade has also been diverse: She’s worked for several high-end law firms, trust offices, private equity firms and multinational companies, such as Momentum Capital, a private equity firm dedicated to providing solutions for clean tech and green energy.
“I jumped around a little bit trying to find my way, and you know what? It is OK,” she says, adding that it’s fine to move on if you hit a plateau or if you feel you can’t learn anything further. “Be true to yourself, your DNA. Follow your instincts, your gut, try to have fun, try to learn.”
Huizinga also serves as an exclusive balloted member of Topvrouwen.nl, a Netherlands group for C-level, board-ready female professionals. As part of a traveling expo, aptly titled “What is your legacy? Women with power,” her portrait will be featured amongst others in the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam (https://www.topvrouwen.nl/what-is-your-legacy/nicoline-huizinga). She reiterates that there are always misconceptions when it comes to women in law and that while the gender gap in law school is shifting, the number of women serving in senior legal positions remains low.
And what are her other aspirations?
“I would like to become superwoman,” she says with a laugh. “I just want to be the best person I can be.”
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