So, here are a few tips and lessons that I take from my experience, with the hope that it can assist junior associates and in-house counsel looking to boost their profile or become increasingly involved in initiatives within the legal profession:
I was recently part of a panel at the 3rd Annual Disruption in Legal Practice program at Osgoode Hall Law School. In discussing the changing legal practice, our panel was asked an interesting question which, at first blush, seemed simple and straight forward to answer. Upon reflection, the response became detailed and complex. The question was: how does the role of in house counsel differ from a private practice lawyer (within this group I include lawyers in mid-to-large-size law firms and boutique law firms) and which unique skills are needed to succeed in the in-house role? The old rule applies, that if one person asks, there are many others with the same question.
On Feb. 20, I attended the Women in Governance Annual Recognition Gala. This was a celebration of public companies that made a commitment and achieved at least 30 per cent female representation within their boards. It was inspirational to hear about the shared experiences and the strategic business decisions that drove these companies to make a commitment to actively promote equity within their governance board.
On Jan. 25, a new batch of recent graduates was called to the bar. This is an unforgettable moment in the life of a law student as they become part of what is seen (by most people) as a noble profession that stands as the guardian for justice and equity in our society. This also marks the start of their working career.
Similarly, in our profession, forward thinking lawyers stand to benefit the most from the fundamental changes that are taking place within our legal profession.
For lawyers in Ontario, 2018 will be the year where major opportunities were missed.
I am a strong advocate for the adoption of legal technology and artificial intelligence. Not only do I believe that the adoption of legal tech will make lawyers more efficient and able to provide better more affordable services to clients, but I believe there will be a time, very soon, when not using legal technology tools will risk a lawyer being found to be in a possible breach of their professional obligations.
To my fellow John Candy and Steve Martin fans out there, you will recognize where this comes from; but now that I have worked with trucks (Navistar), cars (Nissan) and planes (Cargojet), all that is left is trains. While all of these areas of in-house practice seem very similar, as they are within the transportation sector, the work in each of these experiences was very, very different.
The challenges faced by the newest members of our profession are unprecedented. It is clear to see why so many of our newest colleagues become victims of mental illness depression, anxiety and other illnesses.
There is a little secret not often discussed or mentioned. It is, in many ways, one of the best-kept secrets within the legal profession, especially among in-house counsel. The secret is the benefit and spectacular opportunities associated with taking on an OLO (only legal officer) role.