Thinking like an entrepreneur: Cheryl Reicin on founding a cannabis practice at Torys

Reicin has always loved taking a calculated risk and had an eye for a fertile greenfield industry

Thinking like an entrepreneur: Cheryl Reicin on founding a cannabis practice at Torys

1983 – works in Israel

On a year off from Harvard Law School, Reicin does an articled clerkship with Chaim Herzog, Israel’s sixth president.

“It was great timing; I was lucky enough to be exposed to the early days of the Israeli tech industries. Outside of Silicone Valley it’s the most prolific per capita of any country in the world, and I was there at the beginning of it. I liked seeing the entrepreneurial spirit and decided I wanted to work with Israeli tech companies.”

1987 – finds bio-tech

Reicin worked on Wall Street in a world of hostile takeovers before finding what will prove to become her real passion.

“It was intellectually challenging and interesting but not fulfilling; then a biotech client appeared and I put my hand up. No one knew what it was. I felt it was so exciting; like it was going to change the world — the client was developing a cancer therapy and needed a lot of help.”

early 90s – starts life sciences group

Reicin’s life sciences work results in referrals from others in the field and, realizing that she requires input from different disciplines, she starts the first cross-departmental life sciences group.

“[Bio-tech] was still a fledgling industry; this was all new — people thought I was crazy to focus on this one small sector. Little by little, we started growing it; by the late ’90s, I was chairing an 85-lawyer group — the largest life sciences group in the U.S.”

2005 – comes to Canada

Having married a Canadian, Reicin commutes between Toronto and NYC until Torys opens a U.S. office and she joins as partner intending to develop a life sciences practice.

“No lawyer in Canada had a full-time life sciences practice, let alone a cross-border one. It was built from scratch. When I came here from the U.S., most of my clients followed me. With the internet it didn’t matter where you were; clients just wanted the expertise.”

2011 – founds Genesis

When she starts Genesis: UJA Federation's Centre for Jewish Innovation, Reicin sets her sights on helping the next generation.

“Mentoring is invaluable to those starting out. I asked very busy and successful people to be mentors, and to my surprise, practically

everyone said yes. I thought that would have a real impact on the next generation.

“I’m in a rush to have an impact — we’re only on this planet for a limited time.”

2013 – is named in Top 100

Being included in WXN’s Canada’s Top 100 Most Powerful Women — which she has now been awarded three times — was important to Reicin not for the glory but for the access it afforded her.

“It’s nice to get the recognition, and it was great to meet the fantastic women [who were included in the 100]; it opened more doors and allowed me to meet people who wanted to do be involved in mentoring and other charitable pursuits.”

2014 – gets in at the right time

Having done work in the field of medical cannabis since arriving in Canada, Reicin is well placed when it becomes a major industry and founds a cannabis practice at Torys.

“I’ve always thought it’s a good business plan to get into a new area that has complex and varying legal needs that are not readily available. We were well positioned because we had been working on the medical side for a good 10 years before anyone else had.”

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