Interview with Karen Perron

  • October 13, 2022
  • Interview conducted by David Milosevic

Q: Good afternoon, President Perron. Thank you so much for joining the OBA civil litigation section. Before we explore the substantive questions, could you tell us a little bit about your practice and how you came to be involved with the OBA?

A: I'm a partner in the disputes group at BLG's OWA office. I have a pretty broad commercial litigation practice, which includes a focus on insolvency and banking litigation.

As a first gen lawyer and also the first to pursue post-secondary studies, I didn't know any other lawyers and I actually had very little insight into the actual practice of law. So when I was called to the bar, I wanted to find ways to grow my network, enhance my profile, and also gain insight into the profession. One of my colleagues suggested I join the OBA and the YLD section executive. From then I went on to be elected to OBA council, joined committees, and was elected to a number of board positions, which ultimately led to my presidency. Overall, I think my OBA journey has not only fulfilled my original goals of expanding network and my profile, but it has also helped me stay on top of practice trends and developments, and provided me opportunities to build leadership abilities and collaborate with lawyers and stakeholders across the province to do good in our communities.

Q: During your term as OBA President, what issues particularly motivated you?

A: As a Francophone lawyer, from Northern Ontario, also practicing in Ottawa, I have strived to ensure that lawyers across the province have equal access to the tools they needed to succeed, and could access and leverage those connections that I had valued so much through my OBA network. Building on that theme was important to me as president. Also, my term coincided with us hopefully emerging from the pandemic, when it was really important to increase connections amongst the profession again. To that end, I introduced OBA Link, which is designed to ensure that every member of the association, no matter where they're located physically in our province, can capitalize on the expertise and the support of the OBA community. The new OBA Link app is a one stop shop for need-to-know news and a new way for us to connect to each other. You can download it on Apple and Android. It’s a free app for all members, where you’ll find the latest news on the justice sector, OBA programs, podcasts, and various forums. We’ve also developed specific programs and tools to identify regional concerns.

Another theme that was important was continuing to drive equality, diversity, and inclusion in law. I built on our Not Another Decade initiative, launched in 2020 under Charlene Theodore's presidency, which is the OBA's commitment to advancing equality in our justice sector. Our first year focused on the number of legal workplaces with feasible EDI plans. For my year, my focus is on pay equity. I'm working with experts to devise a tool that will help employers close the gender wage gap and devise a more equitable compensation model by reexamining how lawyers' contribution is recognized, valued, and rewarded.

Q: Has the shift to more virtual meetings and e-filing helped regions other than Toronto and Ottawa?

A: One of the silver linings to the pandemic has been that we are all connected in the same way. We're not seeing meetings held in person in one area with other people dialing in by phone or joining by virtual means. We've all been equalized. In that sense, it has enhanced those connections across provinces, and nationally and internationally as well.