Eva Joly and her daughter Caroline, united by their passion for justice

Usually, it is “father and son lawyers” that can be read at the entrance to law firms. “With us, it’s daughter and mother”, launch in chorus the two Joly. The first, Caroline, is 52 years old. The second, Eva, is approaching 79. Each has her office in a building at the back of the courtyard, but at 8, place Vendôme, opposite the Ministry of Justice. Quite a symbol. “Yet it’s not done on purpose”, they specify, always together. Their violins are perfectly tuned. “Do you remember when we lost that file?” It was revolting,” says the mother, for example. “Wait, let’s talk about the ones we won,” says the girl immediately. In their eyes, of the same forget-me-not blue, tenderness and mutual admiration. Their duo is enough to leave anyone stunned who considers the family to be a knot of neuroses from which we must extricate ourselves as quickly as possible. Especially when the patriarch, in this case the “matriarch”, has spent her life in the limelight.

extraordinary women

Who does not know Eva Joly? The Norwegian-born judge who investigated the biggest French political and financial scandals, the green candidate for the 2012 presidential election, the MEP defendant of the XXL frauds of multinationals and the cynicism of their shareholders. Who knows, on the other hand, that since 2015 the former magistrate who has become a lawyer has been working with her daughter, a brilliant and discreet specialist in business law? At the beginning of November, they receive us in their offices bathed in light. “Daughter and mother” therefore, and not the reverse since the senior has behind her only seven years of the bar while the junior soon accumulates thirty. After learning her skills juggling mergers and acquisitions while giving birth to three children (Salomé, Romane and Annah), she founded, with her best friend, “Baro Alto”. “Baro as a bar, she explains, alto as tenor in the feminine. “It is in this office, in the shade of the Vendôme column, and with about fifteen collaborators, that the fifty-year-old welcomes the almost octogenarian. “A cozy cocoon”, rejoices the special guest. “With a four-star service, complements her daughter hostess. Here, we work a lot but never with a knife behind our backs. Kindness is part of our DNA. “And gym mats are waiting in the closet for possible Pilates lessons, the favorite sport of Joly senior, delighted to have found such a serene shelter: “I can even let myself go in a bad mood. And then I have a guarantee of quality for my legal services: Caroline! “Because, humbly continues the former star judge of the Paris courthouse, “it is not enough to have been a magistrate to be a good lawyer”. Joly Junior agrees and reminds his parent of his first steps at the bar: “You said to me: but it’s obvious, the court is going to give us reason. And I answered you: you will see when you have to plead before Mrs. or Mr. Tartanpion. »

A lot of moms or dads would feel pushed back to the accessories department in this kind of situation. Not Eva Joly, the autodidact always eager to learn. Coming to France as an au pair, it was at the dawn of her forties that she tried and succeeded, despite the language barrier, in the competition for the School of Magistracy. Previously, to boil the pot while her husband finished his medical studies, the intrepid Gro (his Norwegian first name) had been a seamstress, a secretary in Eddie Barclay’s record company or a legal adviser in a psychiatric hospital. “Today, she says, my ideal is the former New York prosecutor Robert Morgenthau, I knew him when he was already 80 years old. At 90, he left the bench and immediately screwed up his lawyer’s plate. She, in addition to the rest, is a researcher in a Norwegian university, gives lectures on “law and the environment” (the last at the prestigious Yale University), travels to Oslo to struggle with the victims. of a gigantic industrial accident four decades old, 123 dead on an oil platform in the North Sea: “For this file, I have a long-term contract which runs until I am 82 years old. You see, the future belongs to the old! » Eva Joly or the cure for melancholy.

A complementary pair

“My mother, summarizes Caroline, has an eternally young look at the world. She always believes that everything can be changed. And, in this field, it is the oldest who trains the youngest. So they have just won an unprecedented victory together: the obligation imposed on McDonald’s to pay a colossal slate of 1.25 billion euros in fines and tax arrears, all for the benefit of the French State. . The battle, initiated by trade unionists, and which lasted seven years, is most emblematic: to McDonald’s employees who demanded salary increases, management constantly replied that the accounts were in the red, while the French brands of the American fast-food giant was always full. In reality, McDonald’s France used a mechanism modestly baptized “optimization” in order to reduce, on paper, its profits and to subtract a good part of it from the tax authorities, succeeded in proving the employees in front of the justice which gave them reason . “A historic decision, underlines Gilles Bompard of the CGT McDo. Our two lawyers are fully committed to obtaining it. Today, it is against another American firm, General Electric, which engages in the same bookkeeping game in its factory in Belfort, that they are going on the attack. “Their duo, enthuses the leader of the CGC on site, Philippe Petitcolin, is wonderfully complementary. And also with variable geometry.

©Marie Rouge

Joly Mère, who intends to continue in the courtrooms the fight against tax evasion that she led during her two terms of office (2009-2019) in the European Parliament, prefers whistleblowers to aces of finance: “I the luxury of being able to choose my files, I avoid defending the banks. “Not Pretty girl, who explains not having “the same fights” but “identical values”. In particular, those of a new “business ethic” (with BA-BA the payment of taxes), which she promotes with her mother. A “risky bet, at least at first”. Because the clients that Caroline Joly cultivates in Baro Alto evolve for the most part in economic circles and many still remember the great deeds of the one who gave birth to her: Bernard Tapie arrested in the early morning, the CEO of Elf sent to prison like any thug, the potentates of African oil put on the hot seat. In the 1990s, the bosses of the CAC 40 were strangled by the audacity of “the ice judge” whom they also called, misogyny being at that time without complex, the “Viking in a petticoat”, “the hysteric of the palace” or “the Norwegian maid”. Caroline was 23 years old and her mother had become a cutthroat woman who lived under police protection, with bodyguards even in her living room. Among the penalists appointed by those she was prosecuting, it was hardly better. Many of them hated her and held their resentment against her. In 2015, when she applied for admission to the Paris Bar, the bar association summoned her for a major oral. “A very rare procedure. And vexatious, remembers Isabelle Prévost-Desprez, another judge with a strong temperament and before whom Me Eva Joly will plead for the first time in her life. “It’s my luck to come across you, I’m terrified,” whispered the novice lawyer to her friend Isabelle. It is believed to be made of hardened steel, but it obviously has its flaws.

A great family adventure

Caroline knows it: her childhood and her youth were cradled by passionate and generous parents who collected all the homeless people in the area (“Ado, she slips, I wanted to be quite the opposite. Conformist and in the norm”). In 2001, her father, who was suffering from severe depression, killed himself. She went through this “unspeakable” drama with her mother. She also saw her exhaust herself in the Elf affair, leave France and then rebuild herself in Norway or Iceland, as a government anti-corruption adviser. In 2012, she supported her, just as much as her brother, now an architect, during the presidential election.

The detractors of “Eva the Red”, another of her nicknames, treated her as a foreigner, mocked her Scandinavian accent and her catastrophic (and unfortunately prescient) predictions on the climate crisis or the capture of wealth. Suffice to say that with her it was never easy, and when Caroline decided to “host” her at 8, place Vendôme, relatives thought it was good to worry: “You’re crazy, she’s going prevent you from breathing. “The co-founder of Baro Alto, Géraldine Brasier Porterie, however, also opened her doors wide: “Eva, whom I have known for a long time, is someone adorable. And it touches me a lot to see her working with Caroline. Succeeding in this family adventure is not given to everyone. “We share something other than the traditional Sunday lunch, that’s good, isn’t it? conclude the two Jolys with one voice.

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