Spotlight Interview

We asked Harleen about her background and daily challenges she faces as an Intellectual Property Lawyer

1. How long have you been practicing law? How did you begin your law career?

 I was first licensed as a lawyer in New York almost a decade ago prior to becoming licensed in Canada. I began working in intellectual property (IP) law from the beginning of my career dealing with trademarks, copyright, patents, infringement and licensing. My biomedical engineering background was and continues to be instrumental in helping me through legal analysis required including the scientific background required for the specialized areas of IP law.  

2. What is your approach to the ‘business of law’ side of the practice?

 Understanding my clients, whether experienced counsel or managers, serial entrepreneuers, or local one-time innovators has been important for me in approaching the business of law. This involves initiating, developing, and maintaining multiple client relationships, and particularly focusing on making sure my clients feel their needs are met. Keeping my skills up to date and having a technical background provides clients the confidence in my legal and technical subject matter abilities; the added touch of meeting clients in person, speaking at and attending a spectrum of events, and being communicative provides clients the conflidence that I am working on their behalf.  

3. What challenges are presenting themselves and how are you handling them?

 This year ushered in comprehensive legislative changes to the Trademarks Act and Regulations and Patents Rules, the governing legislation and rules for respective areas of IP. Understanding the impact of those changes, communicating the impact of those revisions, and implementing processes and efficiencies to ensure the different scenarios are captured including for the duration of transitional provisions has been a challenging opportunity – all while making sure the “business of law” keeps going. Having a team of people in a large firm all offering analyses and input has offered tremendous insight and resources. To handle these challenges, I have focused on leaning into those resources, analyzing the impact of those changes and writing about them, applying individual judgment and ultimately implementing them in practice by developing precedents and processes.  

4. What is a typical day like for you? What is the best part of your job?

 A typical in-office day involves being responsive to clients and corresponding with the Trademarks Office and a network of associates. It involves preparing applications, formulating opinions and advising on next steps or otherwise executing on devised strategies. The best part of my job is staying connected with a network of associates so I am constantly learning about different jurisidictions and their approach to IP. This, in turn, helps me provide strategic guidance to my clients who are seeking to expand their dealings outside Canada.  

5. On a totally different note, how do you like to spend your time when you are not at work?

 I am my family’s historian, curating those thousands of images made possible by technology, and transforming them into photo books and mementos so we have something tangible. My kids love looking through those photos and seeing themselves as ‘babies’ and questioning their absence in those photos that pre-date their existence. I also love being outdoors, and now take my 2 year old and 3 year old to the park, walks, or anywhere outdoors to instill in them a love of play and adventure.