Canadian Lawyer

September 2022

The most widely read magazine for Canadian lawyers

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Page 13 of 51

12 FEATURE CROSS EXAMINED A PASSION FOR PROVIDING EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES Mitch Frazer helped launch a law school and an ageing institute while still maintaining a thriving pensions practice at Torys "I like to show people that you don't need to come from a wealthy family to have opportunities. My goal is to make [education] accessible for as many people as possible" Mitch Frazer, Torys LLP MITCH FRAZER has a lot of energy. In addition to his busy pension law practice at Torys in Toronto, he has been instrumental in expanding educational opportunities for students across Ontario. His passion for education comes from a personal place. Frazer grew up in a work- ing-class family and was the first to pursue a university education. His father was an elec- trician who dropped out of school in grade nine, and his mother stopped her education after graduating from high school. "I like to show people that you don't need to come from a wealthy family to have opportunities," says Frazer. "My goal is to make it [education] accessible for as many people as possible." Frazer says he took advantage of the social benefits that exist in Canada. Yet he also clearly brought an entrepreneurial mindset and a tireless work ethic to his career development. He articled at the [now-dissolved] firm of Goodman and Carr, but pursued an MBA simultaneously. One of the projects in that program was on the economics of law firms, which helped Frazer learn a fundamental lesson about business development in law at an early age. "I realized that the most important element to business development and law firms was change. You don't make any money if every- thing stays static," says Frazer. "No client ever calls you and says, 'Everything's going well, nothing's happening. Send me a bill.' People call you when a new law comes into place." The most significant changes that were happening in law at the time were in heavily regulated areas, including pensions. So Frazer accepted a contract to work with the pensions group at Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP after he was not invited to work as an associate at Goodman and Carr. After a few years at Osler, Frazer's entrepre- neurial spirit kicked in when Torys approached him to help develop their newly launched pensions group. The Torys group was much smaller, and Frazer says he moved from being around fiftieth in terms of seniority to being the number two lawyer in the group. "That's been the story of my career [for] opportunities that have happened," says Frazer. "Most of the time, you don't plan for opportunities. You have to be ready for opportunities and seize the moment as they occur." Frazer then developed a thriving pensions practice, eventually cowriting two textbooks on pension law with another lawyer who represents employees. But Frazer's energy has been focused on providing opportunities for others outside his client work, and post-secondary educa- tion was the area on which he concentrated. "I realized early on that the thing that I most enjoyed doing in my life was helping others," he says. Frazer began giving back to his law school alma mater, Western University, by actively fundraising for the

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