Canadian Lawyer

March 2021

The most widely read magazine for Canadian lawyers

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Page 13 of 43

12 FEATURE CROSS EXAMINED IT IS no surprise that Vanessa Grant is pas- sionate about her work. As a corporate lawyer advising the technology and life sciences indus- tries, her areas of focus are having a moment. While some of her biotech clients are sup- porting vaccine development and her tech clients are helping with the shift to working from home, it is when Grant talks about the intersection of tech and health that she really gets animated. "In the past five to 10 years, I have now seen the convergence of those two," Grant says. They "used to be separate industries, one not talking to the other, but [there is] but now an intimate convergence." Grant cites the example of companies that now specialize in developing and curating sets of anonymized patient data for use in drug discovery. Technology has also been a key driver in the rapid development of COVID vaccines. "What's really great about Canada in partic- ular," she says "is that we provide the support and guidance to researchers to enable them to be world leaders in this type of technology. Some of our clients with whom we work, you won't necessarily see it in the headlines, but they are in the vanguard of vaccine research." Vaccine development is not just about the vaccine itself, Grant points out. "There's a whole she had to succeed in music quickly shifted to her new chosen vocation. When talking about the law, Grant speaks in grand statements, not so much in legalese or industry jargon. "I think most people go to law school because they're idealists and because they believe that, in some small measure, the prac- tice of law and the understanding of the way law and legal systems works will help them change the world." While Grant can sound a bit more starry eyed than the average M&A lawyer, she cites an experience she had with a mentor early in her career that taught her some of the more practical lessons about excelling in the law. As a as a second-year lawyer at Torys, Grant ran into a senior partner's office in a panic that she had made a major error on a deal by not properly following her client's instructions. HEALTH, TECH AND CHANGING THE WORLD Vanessa Grant has always loved representing tech and life sciences companies, but the pandemic has made her work even more meaningful set of technologies surrounding the research, development and delivery of vaccines." Grant's enthusiasm comes naturally and infuses everything she talks about, which is also evident in another of her passions: the arts. As a trained mezzo soprano opera singer, a mother of a ballet dancer and the wife of an animator, she surrounds herself with creativ- ity. In fact, Grant says, in addition to fostering her son's career in ballet, she has had ballet students living in her house and ballet classes will sometimes be happening in the back- ground as she works. Grant aspired to a career as a singer when she was studying music for her undergraduate degree. But she shifted to the law when she realized that, unlike some of her classmates, a career in opera was not in the cards. While Grant continued to sing, the drive "I work with some of the finest minds in the world [in the] technology and life sciences spaces. And that is not something that an opera singer ever could have [imagined saying] 25 years ago."

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