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Corporate counsel turn to art for networking

|Written By Andi Balla
Corporate counsel turn to art for networking
David Liss presents a series of art pieces about the richness of the Canadian character to in-house counsel attending the ACC Ontario annual art crawl. photo credit: Andi Balla

With the many long hours they spend working in their offices, lawyers really appreciate good art hanging in the walls, whether they work at a firm or in-house. So it is not surprising that one of the year’s most popular networking events for in-house lawyers in the Greater Toronto Area is the annual art crawl organized by the Association of Corporate Counsel Ontario chapter.

Only in its second year, the event drew a large crowd of in-house counsel in downtown Toronto last Wednesday, with some curators and artists also in attendance.

But there is more connection between art and law than mere appreciation, said David Liss, artistic director and curator of the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art.

“Contemporary art tells so many stories in so many different ways. Perhaps similar to the legal vocabulary, contemporary art is a visual vocabulary,” said Liss.

He was speaking in his presentation of a series of modern art pieces that aimed to show the richness of Canadian identity, through works related to different Canadian experiences.

With Toronto law firms holding some of the country’s best art collections, as InHouse’s sister publication, Law Times, reported earlier this year, it made three of these firms a perfect venue for the networking event. This year’s tour included the collections of Gowling Lafleur Henderson LLP, Osler Hoskin & Harcourt LLP, and?McCarthy Tétrault LLP.

From paintings to installations to photography, the works covered an array of contemporary art. Liss based his presentation on a small selection of pieces among Oslers’ 350-piece collection. While articling students at McCarthys offered guided tours of several unique contemporary art works on which in-house lawyers were asked to guess between a real and made-up caption.

The event also served as the venue of the ACC Ontario chapter’s annual general meeting.

The chapter is expanding fast as are the number of activities it organizes, said Sanjeev Dhawan, senior counsel at Hydro One Networks Inc. and current ACC Ontario chapter president.

He added the art crawl and other informal social activities the chapter organizes provide a great opportunity for the area’s in-house counsel to network with each other.

“We’ve got a lot a members here tonight,” he said about the event.

The Ontario group is one of several Canadian chapters of the ACC, the world’s largest international organization working on behalf of the in-house counsel profession through networking, knowledge-sharing, and continuing legal education.