Julia Janewa Osei-Tutu

DPhil Law (Part-Time)

Picture of Julia Janewa Osei-Tutu

A brief biography of yourself and a summary of your career so far.

I am Ghanaian-Canadian. I obtained my B.A. at the University of Toronto, my J.D. from Queen’s University and my LL.M. from McGill University. I am pursuing a DPhil in Law from Oxford on a part-time basis.

I live in the United States, where I teach Trademark Law, Fashion & Design Law, and Intellectual Property & Human Rights, among other courses. Before I started my academic career, I was an attorney with the Canadian Department of Justice. In that role, I provided legal advice on intellectual property law and policy to the Government of Canada.

What attracted you to a career in Law?

I grew up in a small town in Canada. We had a family friend who was a judge and I thought I wanted to do what he did: help solve problems. I was attracted to a career in law because of my interest in hearing both sides of a dispute and my interest in justice and equity.

How has your time in Oxford influenced your career path? Have you had the career you planned or has it evolved over time?

I have long wanted to do a research doctorate, but it was difficult to do so without uprooting my family. As a mother of three boys, I was delighted when Oxford created a part-time program for the DPhil in Law. This allows me to continue working and parenting while I pursue this degree. It remains to be seen how things evolve.

Tell us a bit about your research. What are you working on at the moment and why is it important to you?

I am writing about how indigenous and local cultural symbols that are not protected as trademarks or geographical indications can be protected when they are used in the commercial context by those outside of the group. I became interested in these issues when I was working on related matters as a lawyer for the Canadian Department of Justice. I find questions relating to cultural groups and appropriation of cultural identities interesting because they are, at their core, questions of justice and equity. In addition, I enjoy thinking and writing about the theoretical justifications for intellectual property rights.

What has been the biggest challenge in your career to date?

As a wife and as the mother of three boys, I find that there are many demands on my limited time! My two biggest challenges have been staying true to my voice and balancing family and career.

If you could give your younger self one piece of advice, what would it be?

I would advise my younger self to enjoy all aspects of the journey and to recognize that there many paths that one can take. I have come to realize that we must each walk our own path.

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