When you’re first starting out as a lawyer, it can feel daunting to pick (and stick to) a particular practice area. How do you know if it is the right one for you? Will you fit in with the members of the Bar? How will you find clients and build a book of business? Can you distinguish yourself from your peers – and when do you start trying to do that?
To answer some of these questions, I turned to some of the top female intellectual property lawyers in Canada, to ask them how they figured out intellectual property law was for them, and how they have built successful careers. They very graciously provided not only their perspectives, but tips on what junior lawyers can do and should consider as they strike out in the Intellectual Property Bar.
Sana Halwani is a partner at Lenczner Slaght and Head of the Intellectual Property Group. She is recognized by Chambers Canada and Lexpert as a leading IP litigator. She is the co-creator of ReferToHer™, an online referral site positioning female lawyers as equal and available resources. Sana is on the Intellectual Property Institute of Canada’s Council, is Chair of its Litigation Committee, and Co-chair of its Women in IP Networking Group. She is active with her alma mater the University of Toronto, currently acting as President Elect on the Board. Prior to her Call to the Bar, Sana clerked for Supreme Court of Canada Justice Rosalie Abella.
I asked Sana, “How did and do you distinguish yourself from your peers?”
Sana: Many lawyers feel like they have to project a particular image or act a particular way. They feel they have to play the part of aggressive lawyer or tough litigator. I’ve never been able to play a part like that. I bring my full self to my interactions with colleagues and clients – I joke, I talk about my family, I show emotion, I occasionally utter profanities, and I say when I don’t know the answer – and that allows me to form real, authentic connections. It’s good for business and good for the self.