Caroline Teichner is an experienced litigation attorney who serves as in-house counsel to The Kraft Heinz Company, handling a broad range of IP and general litigation matters. In undergrad at Princeton, Caroline majored in mechanical and aerospace engineering with the intention of becoming a patent lawyer. "My dad had a patent when I was a kid and was very proud of it," she says, "so I always knew what they were and they were very important in my mind." During law school, she was pleasantly surprised to find that she loved trademark law as well.
At Kraft Heinz, Caroline handles IP litigation matters and is also striving to implement methods for monetizing Kraft Heinz's significant patent portfolio. She loves the variety in her work. There are constantly new products and advertisements going out for Kraft Heinz's many well-known brands, and so every day brings something new and unexpected. Caroline also enjoys Kraft Heinz's collaborative environment, enhanced by the company's open floorplan workspace. "I was dreading open space," she admits, but now is grateful for it. As in-house counsel, her work is very different than when she was at a law firm and requires a lot of information gathering. Sitting near everyone makes that easier. Another benefit? "It's fun," she says. "There's a lot of laughter, and it promotes a true team mentality."
Caroline is a skilled writer, which serves her well as a litigator and has been especially useful in her role at Kraft Heinz. She is able to provide very clear recommendations to her internal business partners in a way that helps them understand that the legal recommendations are a good idea for the business as a whole. Caroline is also detail oriented and organized, which is particularly important in an in-house role that requires juggling a wide variety of nuanced issues that can quickly fall through the cracks if not properly managed.
Caroline was valedictorian of her law school class at Chicago-Kent. Additionally, while practicing at McAndrews, Held & Malloy, she was on the team handling the companion case to Halo Electronics Inc. v. Pulse Electronics Inc., which went to the Supreme Court and ultimately changed the law on willfulness damages for patent infringement. Caroline helped write the petition for certiorari that was granted, and she was able to attend oral arguments at the Supreme Court, which was a memorable experience, to say the least.
Promoting the Success of Women
Giving women opportunities and recognition where it's due is something that Caroline sees as vital to the success of women. She has had mentors who made sure clients met her and saw when she was taking on important responsibilities. She pays that forward and aims to be a mentor to other women coming up after her.
As in-house counsel, she hopes to encourage change by making diversity a priority in hiring decisions. "Kraft has a real, genuine interest in making sure our outside counsel is diverse," says Caroline, noting that she has been involved in discussions where diversity was one of the most important considerations in deciding whether to hire a particular team. "I want day-to-day contact with women and diverse people," she says.
Additionally, as a woman with young children, Caroline sees being a working parent as a value-add, not as something that detracts from the value of her work. "Some of the hardest working people I know are parents," she says. She hopes to see more male leaders being vocal about family scheduling conflicts in the future, to normalize the issue and make it less gender specific.
Caroline does car rallies with her dad, who is a Porsche aficionado. The rallies are essentially scavenger hunts in a car, but the key factor is each participant's time—it's important not to get lured in by one of the rally's "tricks," which can derail participants and add on to their time. Caroline is the navigator, and her dad is the driver, and they've been working as a team for the last 5 years. "It's my favorite summer pastime," she says. Caroline also embroiders and stays busy with her two small children
Meet some of our other ChiWIP members here!
Do you have someone you would like to nominate for a member spotlight? To nominate or to share your own success story, please fill out the form here.