Emma Bienias is a Managing Director in the Disputes, Compliance & Investigations group at Stout. Her firm focuses on intellectual property (“IP”) valuations and damages expert testimony in disputes involving IP. Emma loves how engaging her work is. “You’re always stretching intellectually,” she says.” “With IP, especially patents, by their very nature, they’re unique, so the technology is always different.”
Emma has a degree in Biology and a Master’s in Economics. Growing up in Canada, which is less litigious than the U.S., she had never heard of the field of IP litigation damages. However, after school, she came to the States to get work experience and found that employers in IP litigation damages were looking for exactly her background. She’s been in the field in various capacities ever since, has been with Stout for the last 7 years, and has made a home for herself here in Chicago.
A primary focus of Emma’s role at Stout is developing relationships, and her natural ability to bring people together serves her well. She puts together events that give people a forum to network in a fun and comfortable way, some of which include hands-on cooking competitions, manicure events, and "women, wine and wealth" classes. She also sees this as a way she can give back to those who refer business her way, by curating spaces in which others are able to connect, build relationships with each other, and have a good time. “Once people come together, they’re able to take away whatever relationships they want to take from it.”
Emma’s ability to communicate effectively and directly is also key to her success. Coming up in a male dominated industry in which playing a round of golf was the default for connecting with clients, Emma has advocated for herself and her way of developing relationships. She has been vocal with senior leadership, particularly after building goodwill through her hard work, and in return, she’s been given the autonomy she needs to do her job well.
When Emma started out in her field, she was typically the only woman in the room. Her ability to rise and succeed in that environment is an accomplishment in and of itself. But Emma has taken it to the next level by becoming a champion for other women. She was one of the five co-founders of ChiWIP, which was created to be an inclusive organization for women to connect and support each other. She put in an enormous amount of work in the organization’s first two years especially, creating the first version of the website, putting together the bylaws and finance system, and spearheading the Finance Committee and Annual Dinner. Emma is happy to see the organization thriving, and has recently been able to take a step back from the Finance Committee. “The women running the organization now are rock stars,” she says.
Promoting the Success of Women
In addition to her dedication to ChiWIP, Emma hosts quarterly lunches for the women at Stout. The goal is for the women at the firm to get to know each other better, and to make senior women more accessible to junior women.
Emma is also a proponent of women getting to know their finances. “We’re making money, and we need to be the steward of that,” she says. “There’s something very powerful about being in control of your money.” To that end, she frequently puts together events that are finance focused, on topics such as investing, and protecting assets through trusts and estates.
“I’m a traveler,” Emma says. “There’s something about seeing the world that’s fascinating.” Her bucket list includes visiting 100 countries on all 7 continents. A favorite trip was climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, which she summited on New Year’s Eve so that she rang in 2011 at the mountain’s peak. She has also gone on two African safaris and has gone swimming with animals in the Galapagos. While the current circumstances have put a damper on this interest, Emma looks forward to traveling again in the future.