Canadian Lawyer

March 2021

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Page 12 of 43 11 Advocacy and four individuals. There are four concrete aspects to that in this case, Boctor said. First, Quebec residents who are non-citizens will now be allowed to change their name and sex designation on legal documentation, which were previously excluded by the Civil Code. Second, the deci- sion recognizes the existence of non-binary identity, meaning non-binary people now have the right to change their designations to something other than "male" or "female." Third, transgender parents may now change a parental sex designation on a child's birth certificate. For the second pair of indi- vidual plaintiffs, a trans woman whose sex change occurred after the birth of her and her partner's first child can now be listed as "mother" on both children's birth certificates; for the first set of plaintiffs, both may now be listed on their children's birth certificates as "parent." Fourth, trans youth aged 14 and above may apply to change their sex designation indepen- dently, without an attestation from a health professional, as was previously the case. A set of amendments to the Civil Code in 2016 allowed minors to change their names and sex designations in certain circum- stances, says Michael Lubetsky, a partner in Davies Ward Phillips & Vineberg LLP in Montreal, and a counsel for Egale Canada, one of three interveners supporting the plaintiffs. But the requirement to produce an attestation from a health-care professional "wasn't workable and created an unnecessary burden for trans youth." With January's Superior Court decision, Quebec has caught up to other provinces in adopting neutral gender markers and the use of "parent" on birth certificates. The Quebec legislature has until Dec. 31 to make the required changes to the law. From Big Law to solo Q&A Keyvan Nassiry Principal NASSIRY LAW Keyvan Nassiry is a Montreal banking and finance lawyer with a specialty in debt finance and lending. He hung out his own shingle in August 2019 after 25 years of practice in large firms and hasn't looked back. What prepared you for launching your own practice? I don't think I could have gone out on my own without spending those long years in large firms, and having the benefit of multiple influencers: mentors, peers and those younger than me. My family immigrated to Canada from Iran 40 years ago, when I was 10, and that experience taught me to become more adaptable and resourceful. I also did four years of competitive rowing in high school, and I think that remains an instrumental asset: the grit, not giving up and just trying harder. How did you work your way into solo practice? I had about 20 sessions of executive coaching with a retired lawyer who is an accredited coach, and I started discussing the path ahead. It opened my eyes to whether my fears or holdbacks were legitimate. Lawyers tend to be risk averse, and the idea of leaving the safety net of a massive cruise ship was at first very anxiety producing. I wanted to continue working in complex transactions. I hired a marketing firm, a brand consultant, and [I] spent a lot of time designing the model I wanted to bring to the market. I planned for close to two years before I launched on Aug. 1, 2019. As much as I was fearful of doing it, I don't regret a thing; it's by far one of the best decisions I've ever taken. Are you working less or just differently? I definitely work longer hours — sometimes 14- to 15-hour days — but I had more meals and quality time with my family in my first six months of solo practice than in all those years working in Big Law. I finally have complete discretion on planning my schedule and how best to serve the clients. What are your goals for your practice? My goal is for my firm to become one of the top debt finance and lending law shops in Quebec. Former clients, whether banks, commercial lenders or borrowers, continue to contact me directly, and I also get referrals from other firms. Very few clients mind that I don't have a Big Law infrastructure behind me. What would your advice be to others considering going solo? It's not for everyone; I only recommend it for those who are self- starters and have an entrepreneurial mindset. You need to have a strong work ethic and be an effective networker. I sold cars at a dealership during law school and afterwards, and I watched and learned from excellent salespeople with in-depth knowledge of their product line, who were able to earn clients' trust with their listening skills and by being consistently client-centric. Years in law: 27 Years in present role: 1.5 Career highlight: I had planned to take my first-ever month off after leaving my old firm in 2019, but, two days later, I got my first file as a sole practitioner: a $120-million financing transaction. Although that month off never materialized, that first call put a nice spring in my step. That said, you must learn to say no, too; I still haven't properly learned to say no. It's so rewarding when someone trusts you to solve their problem. "Everybody has the right to have their identity recognized and to identity documents that reflect it."

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