In this installment of 9 Questions Between Generations, we asked Erica Baron, a partner at McCarthy Tetrault LLP, and Bonnie Greenaway, a 3rd year associate at the firm, the same questions and recorded their responses.
1. Tell us a bit about yourself: where did you grow-up, what law school did you go to, and how long have you been practicing in health law?
Erica Baron (EB): I grew up outside of a small town called Thornbury about two hours north of Toronto. I went to law school at the University of Ottawa after completing an undergraduate degree in Philosophy at the University of Western Ontario. I've been fortunate to practice health law for my entire practice (20 years).
Bonnie Greenaway (BG): I grew up in Dorset, Ontario and went to law school at Osgoode Hall. I’ve been practicing health law since 2019.
2. How did you end up working in health law?
EB: Health law is a significant portion of the litigation work at our firm so I, like most young lawyers at our firm, starting working in health law during my summers and articles at the firm. While I have no significant science education (none after high school), I loved learning about the science of medicine and translating it into a digestible form. I also loved cases where medicine intersects with ethical issues (drawing on my undergraduate degree) and so have made that a key part of my ongoing practice at the firm. We are so lucky to have such interesting cases to work on with such wonderful clients.
BG: It has been part of my practice since I began articling at McCarthy’s. I was exposed to it very early on in the context of professional liability and product liability, and assisted with a lengthy trial involving psychiatric medicine and care in the 1960’s-1980’s. I enjoy learning the issues the medical professionals grapple with, the medicine involved, and forming a narrative of the case that is compelling for the non-medical audience.
3. Tell me about a lawyer (or anyone in the legal field) who has had the greatest impact on your career, either directly or indirectly through their work and the impression it made on you.
EB: This is an extremely difficult question to answer because there are so many choices available and I don't want the people I don't mention to think that I they haven't had a great impact on my career. I've been so lucky to have wonderful mentors, colleagues and clients throughout my career. But I want to highlight one person, Donna MacKenzie, a lawyer at Gowlings in Ottawa who has taught me some important lessons. The key one is the importance of positivity, even when things don't always turn out well. She is unfailingly cheerful, supportive and collaborative and such a joy to work with. One of my favorite expressions is "A person who feels appreciated will always do more than what is expected " and her approach to the practice of law has really brought that message home for me.
BG: Observational learning is critical to juniors, in my opinion. Fortunately I have had many opportunities to learn this way. As a result there are many lawyers who I have learned from (directly and indirectly) who I think have made an impression on me as I have been able to study their various skillsets and see how effective they are at achieving results. As a more personal example, Sharanya Thavakumaran, has had a huge impact on me in terms of inspiring collegiality, a strong work ethic, and responsiveness to clients.