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Professional Spotlight: Jolly Northrop

Updated: Jul 31, 2021

According to her mom, Jolly Northrop always wanted to be a lawyer. Her father was in international relations, so Jolly recounts, “I was going to be an international relations lawyer, whatever that means to an eight-year-old!” Jolly never lost her interest in the law and was a political science major (pre-law) as an undergraduate at Wheaton College. Her move into IP law was more of a fluke.

After graduating from Wheaton College, Jolly took a year living in New York City. She waited tables and worked at a coffee shop in college and thought she would do the same now. However, she found the market was much more competitive in New York. Fortunately, she saw a job posting in The New York Times for a receptionist at Corsearch. After looking at her resume, they felt she was overqualified for the receptionist position and asked if she would be interested in being a trademark researcher. She started in their books department and eventually became a full trademark researcher. Jolly loved trademark and New York so much that she deferred law school at the University of Michigan for a year. With this experience under her belt, she knew going into law school that IP was what she wanted to pursue.

Following her law school graduation, Jolly still loved IP, but wasn’t sure she wanted to practice law. She took a job at L’Oréal as a contract attorney and, with her background in IP, was soon working vetting trademarks. Jolly says, “You couldn’t have any more iconic brand.” At the end of her contract, she made a list of what needed to be done and convinced them to hire her permanently. She ended up staying with L’Oréal for 15 years, leaving as Assistant Vice President.

As an associate trademark counsel, Jolly had the opportunity to work under L’Oreal USA’s Chief Trademark Counsel Lisa Gigliotti, whom Jolly describes as a wonderful mentor. According to Jolly, Gigliotti is intellectually rigorous, and she learned so much from her because they had offices next to each other, allowing her to observe how Gigliotti worked. Jolly loved that a significant part of the job was marketing and getting to see the brands grow. In fact, the company celebrated its 100th anniversary while she was there. Jolly also enjoyed working with the many other brands under the L’Oréal umbrella, such as Maybelline New York, Kiehl’s Since 1851, and Redken. Jolly is proud of her body of work at L’Oréal because she lived and breathed the brands and the beauty business. She still sees commercials on television of brands that she protected. She jokes that she misses her cosmetics allowance.

In 2016, Jolly decided to make the move to Colorado. She has family members who have lived in Boulder for 25 years, and she visited often for vacations and holidays. When a family member was having health problems, she decided the time was right to come to Boulder. “You can have different jobs, but you only have one family.”

Jolly first worked as head of IP for Modus Law, which later combined into Michael Best. She says one of the great things about her firm is that IP is the largest practice group in the firm, though most of her colleagues in the Trademark Sub-Practice Group are in Milwaukee and Chicago. A lot of Jolly’s work is similar to what she did at L’Oréal: trademark prosecution, enforcement, portfolio management, and licensing. The difference is being outside counsel. Jolly prides herself on giving practical advice to her clients. With Venture Best (part of Michael Best), she assists private equity investors, start-ups, growth-stage businesses, and entrepreneurs. Jolly is always very passionate about brands and protecting them. She falls in love with the brands she protects and nurtures, so much so that she often finds herself buying something from a client’s website while she is researching for their trademark application. She likes helping businesses in growing their brands and seeing that smaller businesses have the same expertise as their larger competitors. Jolly has a special affinity for her Colorado clients, though she has clients all over the United States.

Jolly has particularly enjoyed working with “artist extraordinaire and muralist” Kelsey Montague of Montague Art, LLC (the KELSEY MONTAGUE ART® brand.) “Kelsey and her sister and business partner, Courtney Montague, have been an absolute joy to work with and for, a fortuitous match of my personal passion for art and my professional expertise in copyright/intellectual property law and licensing. They also call Colorado home but are often on the road spreading color, beauty, and that #WHATLIFTSYOU® spirit.”

Jolly was recently named a Fellow with the Leadership Council on Legal Diversity (LCLD), a group of “top general counsel and legal leaders in the field who are taking time out to say how we move things forward on DEI and other issues.” Jolly describes it as a wonderful program where she has learned wisdom from other Fellows about how people got there and what they’re doing. She is thankful to Michael Best for selecting her for the program. Following the one-year program, Jolly will become an alumnus and receive ongoing communications about what fellow alumni are doing.

For several years, Jolly has been a volunteer for Defy Ventures Colorado. The program is a mixture of a mini-MBA and business accelerator for incarcerated individuals. Jolly volunteers at the Defy Ventures Colorado program at Arkansas Valley Correctional Facility where the incarcerated Entrepreneurs in Training, or “EITs,” come up with, develop, and build business plans for their ventures and then learn to pitch the same. “Their businesses are supposed to be something they could reasonably do after release. They are supposed to have pride in what they are doing.” Jolly is inspired each time she goes down. The mentors and EITs participate in a variety of exercises, including walk the line, where they stand on a line with a partner. A series of statements are read, such as “My parents read me bedtime stories” or “I have a deceased parent.” If the statement is true for you, you stay on the line; if not, you move back. The exercise is meant to demonstrate differences and similarities. Jolly was particularly moved when there were participants who had been in solitary confinement for more than a year or more than two years. Another statement related to first interactions with law enforcement, going back in age. One participant’s experience went back to age eight or nine. Jolly describes graduation as a highlight. For many, this might be their first graduation, and it is important for them and their families to see that side of them. Jolly has loved being a part of such a wonderful and impactful program, even with the six-hour round-trip drive. While mentors couldn’t be there during the COVID pandemic, there has been an increase in releases, so there are now more alumni of the program. Jolly has also volunteered as a bartender for their annual fundraiser.

Since moving to Colorado, Jolly has become active with the CWBA’s DEI Committee. This committee is in the process of brainstorming and figuring out how to implement ideas and get a pipeline going. Jolly notes that CWBA President Gina Glockner has been very active with the committee and that DEI is a priority for her tenure, weaving it throughout the CWBA. Some of the DEI Committee’s initiatives are already being implemented, such as including the option at renewal to donate $40 to support a new attorney. One of the committee’s goals is to remove barriers to people joining. They are being thoughtful ideas about including diverse attorneys on panels and helping newer attorneys build bios and visibility. They are also working on building a pipeline from high schools. Since much of her work on the committee has been during the COVID pandemic, so Jolly is looking forward to meeting more CWBA members in person.

Jolly also currently serves as a board member on the DEI Advisory Board for WorkInProgess, an innovation and advertising agency in Boulder. She is “loving all the brainstorming and action plan implementing we have been up to (for the agency itself, but also for impact in the advertising industry overall). There is a good deal of thought cross-pollination with the work on the CWBA DEI Committee. In both cases, I’m just thrilled to be part of the conversation and to play my small part in the mission.”

When asked who her greatest professional inspiration has been, Jolly does not hesitate in naming L’Oréal USA Chief Trademark Counsel Lisa Gigliotti. While she sometimes felt Gigliotti’s standards were impossible, Jolly found her to be an amazing advocate for professionalism and work ethic. On the personal side, her mom, aka the “Jolly Mama,” has always supported her in her legal endeavors and what she has done. “She is the ultimate role model of intelligence paired with compassion,” Jolly says, adding that if she got half of her mother’s wisdom and grace, she would consider herself blessed.

Outside of work, Jolly likes to cook and make cocktails to unwind. “I particularly like dishes with a lot of flavor, and I am partial to seafood dishes. Shrimp Etouffee, Gochujang Shrimp Stew, Shakshuka, Brazilian Dungeness Crab Stew, Saffron Fish Chowder, Miso-marinated Alaskan Cod with bacon dashi and ginger scallion noodles are some of the dishes from my pandemic cooking adventures. The ginger scallion sauce is from David Chang’s Momofuku cookbook and is equal parts easy and delish. I got the In Bibi’s Kitchen cookbook during the pandemic, and I am working my way through it. It has the recipes and stories from grandmothers from eight African countries. Again, totally enjoying the culture and food intersection.” Jolly has many fellow foodies in her circle, and they have friendly competitions around the food they make for dinner parties.

Jolly also enjoys travel, “particularly when travel and food exploration combine.” On a trip to Morocco to celebrate a friend’s 40th birthday, she rode lead on “Jimmy the sure-footed” camel on the way to “an amazing lunch feast at a Tuareg desert camp in the Sahara Desert near Merzouga.” She’s also an art and design freak and follows art and design bloggers. She likes anything involving water — oceans, lakes, hot tubs — which she acknowledges can be difficult to find in land-locked Colorado.

Jolly also enjoys spending time with her sidekick, Luna Ann, a coonhound that she found when she went to inquire into volunteering at the Humane Society of Boulder Valley. Jolly offered to walk Luna Ann while her background check paperwork was being processed, and the rest is history. Jolly says she is becoming a Coloradan with a Subaru and rescue dog, though she has not yet completed any 14ers.

What many may not know is that Jolly has awards for being part of the Coney Island Mermaid Parade. The art parade is a mermaid-inspired event to celebrate the opening of the summer season at Coney Island and “almost like Mardi Gras.” Three of her fellow mermaids now also live in Colorado.


Kate Noble is a CWBA Publications Committee member and a legal editor with Colorado Bar Association CLE, the nonprofit educational arm of the Colorado and Denver Bar Associations.

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