Why did you decide to become an In-House Counsel?
" I found learning about business, as well as law, appealing. Prior to law school, I had worked in positions of increasing responsibility with various ministries in the Government of Ontario. My experience at a law firm was that while not impossible, it was more difficult to fully understand the nuanced needs of a client, as well as form an in-depth operational understanding of an industry. I thought that perhaps I would learn management skills faster in-house than in a traditional firm environment. I also did not like the billable hours model – I always felt that right when my work was almost perfect I had to stop, because only a set amount of hours were being designated to the file. "
Is the role of In-House Counsel changing? And if yes, how so?
"Yes, I think the role is becoming much more sought-after by legal practitioners and more prestigious. There are so many in-house trailblazers in the Canadian Corporate Counsel Association community. In-house counsel must understand the business, risk framework, compliance, governance, corporate culture, work with business professionals and lawyers, have financial acumen, as well as sophisticated dispute-resolution and diplomacy skills. In-house counsel are required to be strategic, creative and foreword thinking in solving legal problems for the business. Our roles are demanding."
What is one of your favourite moments in your legal career?
"I think my favourite moments in my legal career are just around the corner. On September 1, 2019, I begin my volunteer role as President of the Canadian Bar Association. I am honored to be the first female in-house counsel, the first lawyer of colour, and the first black person to serve in that role in the more than 100 years since the Association was founded in 1896. I am looking forward to meeting and speaking with members of the CBA from across Canada and highlighting the valuable contributions of the CCCA."
How are you leveraging legal technology?
"I try to keep myself educated and informed as to what’s new in the legal landscape. But, as you can attest to yourself, it’s not easy, there are a lot of new innovations. On a day-to-day basis, I try to leverage technology efficiently whether it is used in my personal or professional life."
If you had a magic wand and you could change one thing about the legal industry, what would it be?
"Only one thing. That’s too hard! Well, to start, I want young lawyers to be supported to find their legal calling. I want adequate supports and resources dedicated to making sure lawyers are healthy. I want all lawyers to have equal opportunities and compensation. In my lifetime, I want in-house lawyers to be appointed to all level of our courts, including the Supreme Court of Canada."
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