Aaron Grinhaus, LL.B., J.D., LL.M. (Tax), is a business and tax lawyer, and founder of Grinhaus Law Firm, a full-service practice located in Toronto. He advises on tax, regulatory and securities matters, and is an established Fintech and Blockchain consultant who advises on the uses of Blockchain technology to reduce business costs. Aaron is also heavily involved in the legal community and currently serves as Chair of the Sole, Small Firm and General Practice Section of the Ontario Bar Association. He is also an author of "A Practical Guide to Smart Contracts and Blockchain Law" (LexisNexis: 2019), the world's first legal textbook on the subject.
We asked Aaron about his background, practice and the challenges that he faces.
How long have you been practicing law? How did you begin your law career?
"I have been in practice for just over 10 years now. I began my legal career at a large, international law firm. I subsequently worked at a small firm and a mid-sized downtown firm, as well as a brief stint as in-house counsel, before I decided I want to see my kids grow up and went off on my own. I started off in my living room about 7 years ago. Even though I have enjoyed growing the firm, watching my kids grow up is still the priority for me, the point of all this really, and I have been very lucky to have the flexibility to do both. "
What has your approach been to the ‘business of law’ side of the practice?
"To me the ‘business side’ is the whole thing. We are selling a service here in a highly competitive, overpriced and heavily regulated industry. My focus has been on client service and quality of work, coupled with trying to become an expert in my area of practice, which I think is the only way you can get referrals and differentiate yourself from the pack. The romantic concept of being a lawyer from TV and movies is a fallacy. If you work at a firm you need to justify your existence by billing, and if you run your own firm you are only as successful as your last retainer. The anxiety of paying next month’s bills is a potent motivator. Don’t get me wrong though, I thoroughly enjoy it all."
What challenges are presenting themselves and how are you handling them?
"The challenges range from losing a big client to losing the key to the vending machine. The best way to handle it is to keep moving forward and focus on the next thing, not dwell on the past. "
What is a typical day like for you? What is the best part of your job?
"Typical day is a mixture of admin and legal matters, client relations management and marketing (lunches, meetings, consultations, etc.) I like to get in early, usually around 8am, when it’s quiet. That’s the best time to get work done. Once 9am hits it becomes a juggling act. The best part of the job is the juggling. The worst part is dropping a ball."
On a totally different note, how do you like to spend your time when you are not at work?
"These days it is almost impossible to not be “at work” thanks to smart phones, but I make a strong effort to put my phone away when I’m at home, at least for a few hours. Watching the kids grow and learn is a marvel. You can have the worst day and then you see the baby laugh and it all goes away. It’s good stress medicine."
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