After several years of practicing law in Toronto and New York, I decided to pursue a role in management with the firm. While I was proud of what I had achieved early in my legal career, I realized that the practice of law was perhaps not the best fit for my personality or strengths. This was by far the greatest career decision I’ve made and it was a difficult one. While it required determination and that I begin building my career anew, I am glad that I followed my instincts. Today, I lead all people programs for our Toronto office, developing and leading the strategy for attracting and retaining the best people to serve clients’ needs. I have a rewarding career, working in a dynamic environment with wonderful colleagues and leveraging my skills and strengths each day. My position also allows me to coach and mentor young lawyers.
When I began this role, I hoped to ultimately hold a senior position in the management of the firm, so I set out to learn everything I could about managing a professional services firm. I accepted as much responsibility as I could in diverse areas, collaborating across departments with other groups in the firm, among them marketing, knowledge management, and finance. I sought stretch assignments and new challenges in order to gain exposure to the broad range of issues regularly faced by firms such as ours. This broadened my experience, sharpened my judgment, and gave me the confidence to take on increasing leadership roles. When I’m working with young associates, particularly women, I encourage them to seek experience on a broad range of legal files and to constantly think of ways to grow their skills and knowledge through new challenges.
It has always been important for me to help advance worthwhile causes. This includes taking leadership roles on initiatives in the legal profession, such as the three-year Justicia Project to retain and advance women in private legal practice, and playing a key role in the Trinity II Project, which involves representatives from government and private organizations working to develop a framework to advance diversity and human equity in the workplace. I am also committed to child abuse prevention, including acting as a director for a nonprofit and chairing and organizing a city-wide walkathon to raise funds and awareness.
While these endeavors arose from my desire to contribute to the broader community, they have supported my success inside and outside the firm. They have helped hone my leadership skills by providing exposure to issues outside my day-to-day experiences, while helping build an extremely diverse network and opening the door to new opportunities, ideas, and people.
Is there a role model who has had a profound impact on your career and/or life? What did he/she motivate you to do?
My role model is my mentor and our assistant managing partner, Anne Ristic. Anne has played a central role in the evolution of law firm management in Canada. Her work has demonstrated the value—to lawyers and their clients alike—of importing professional management to the realm of people strategy within law firms. Anne has been important to my career, inspiring and motivating me to pursue challenges and new ideas. Her mentorship and support have been vital and have provided me the confidence to innovate and think creatively in my role, and most importantly, to trust my judgment.