Canadian Lawyer

March 2021

The most widely read magazine for Canadian lawyers

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Page 8 of 43 7 own. They should "build their book" so that, when they do leave, they are primed for success. Hafizi's story provides a template for making the journey from a big-firm lawyer to owning a practice. After working in employ- ment litigation law at a Vancouver firm that merged with DLA Piper, Hafizi worked at two of Canada's more prominent firms — Blakes for 13 years and Gowlings for two. She realized after having two children (now 8 and 12) that it was "a juggling act" being a partner and managing the home side of her life. Hafizi emphasizes that she loved her time at Blakes and Gowlings and learned a lot while there, "but it became clear I had to come up with a solution for myself." So, in the fall of 2018, Hafizi left Gowlings to work on her own. Fortunately, Hafizi says, she had a "robust" set of clients resulting from spending her formative years at top firms in Canada. Hafizi says her firm has been fortunate to capture ongoing mandates from two Canadian financial institutions, The Bank of Nova Scotia and CIBC, and several successful B.C.-based businesses. She admits that she often works longer hours than she might have done at the big firms and that her cellphone is always on. But she enjoys the freedom and sense of control. "This lifestyle isn't for everyone," she says. At the beginning, Hafizi says, she was up late at night wondering how to make her business succeed. Now, she decides whether to take on additional business or turn down potential clients. "You don't like the idea of turning down work, because you want people to keep coming to you," she says. "But if you take on too much, you don't want it to affect the quality of your work." barbara findlay honoured for her fight for LGBTQ2SI+ rights Q&A Fast facts: » M.A. (sociology) and LLB at University of British Columbia » Called to the bar in 1977 » Tenure track professor UBC Faculty of Law 1984-1986 » Founding member of the provincial and national queer lawyers' groups in the Canadian Bar Association — the Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Conference » Went into private practice in 1992 » Named Queen's Counsel in 2001 barbara findlay Lawyer VANCOUVER Vancouver lawyer barbara findlay, a long-time advocate for queer rights, was recently named by the Canadian Bar Association's B.C. branch as the 2020 recipient of the Georges A. Goyer QC Memorial Award for Distinguished Service. We talk to her about her career and willingness to fight on behalf of the LGBTQ2SI+ community. What does winning this award mean to you? Although awards are individual, the work of bringing equality for lesbians and gay men, and to begin that road for trans folk, was the work of an entire movement. There will always be a need for lawyers who are working for people who are marginalized or excluded from the legal system or access to justice. And I'm really glad that this award signals to lawyers interested in doing that work that it is honoured by the profession. To me, the most important part of the award is its recognition that fighting for ostracized or marginalized communities is important to the profession. During your career, which started in the 1970s, how has the landscape for LGBTQ2SI+ rights changed? We haven't completely succeeded in eliminating homophobia everywhere, but I can't overstate how, in my legal career, we've gone from the legal wilderness to the garden of equality as it were. Your practice is very diverse in the types of law you practice — why? I have ended up with a very general practice because there has been so much discrimination in so many different areas of the law — real estate law, immigration law, family law, laws related to health care, AIDS and substitute decision-making. One of your big victories was in the fight for same-sex marriage. How did you and your colleagues win that? Marriage is such a sacred cow, so we approached same-sex rights by analogy to common law partners. The argument we used was [saying] that we had no interest in overturning the institution of marriage, but we think this couple living together and that couple living together should have the same rights and privileges as a common law heterosexual couple. You spell your name without capital letters. Why? It's not that exciting a story. When I was taking my masters of law in 1990, I had letterhead designed in lower-case writing. I liked it, so I continued to use it after returning to private practice. There was a lot of backlash. Even a queer newspaper for years refused to spell my name without capital letters. It's a perfect illustration of negative reaction when someone moves even a tiny bit away from a norm of behaviour and how many are threatened by any deviation from the ordinary. "It was something I had to do, and I am so glad I did, despite the hard work to get here." Bahar Hafizi, BH Legal

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