Canadian Lawyer

November 2022

The most widely read magazine for Canadian lawyers

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10 FEATURE CROSS EXAMINED EMBRACING THE LEGAL CHALLENGES OF UNPRECEDENTED TIMES Awanish Sinha and his public sector group at McCarthy Tétrault represent clients in extraordinary crises who need an innovative approach "You think that there's a specific assumed type of [Bay] Street partner that you need to emulate? Well, I am a hip-hop-loving Hindu from Newfoundland, so I guess your plans are out the window" LAWYERS LOVE precedent. From their first day of law school, they learn to look back and analyze how courts have made decisions, and apply that approach to the facts. However, many of Awanish Sinha's clients find themselves in unprecedented situations. Sinha co-leads McCarthy Tétrault LLP's public sector strategy group, which helps clients navigate legal issues at the inter- section of politics, public policy and busi- ness. He advised Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment (MLSE) and Ontario Lottery and Gaming (OLG) during the pandemic and helped the Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO) create its cannabis stores. These entities faced extraordinary circum- stances involving political risk, unforeseen circumstances and a need for transformative strategies. "I'm trying to push a new frontier of law, a different way of looking at problem-solving in the legal world," says Sinha. Like the situations his clients face, Sinha is not typical. He grew up in St. John's, Newfoundland, as part of what he describes as "a vibrant and loving but not massive Indian community." He says just telling his story can help improve inclusion in the profession by dispelling the myth that there is just one kind of successful lawyer. "In 2022, you think that there's a specific assumed type of [Bay] Street partner that you need to emulate? Well, I am a hip-hop- loving Hindu from Newfoundland, so I guess your plans are out the window," he quips. Sinha studied political science at the University of Ottawa in the early 1990s and worked as a parliamentary page. He says that role helped him better understand the "chess matches" occurring behind the scenes when politicians were working to achieve important political goals. "I was very interested in places where serious political change meant the complete upheaval of legal systems." Sinha then studied law at McGill University, which he says was a great time of intellectual exploration. "Much of law school is the contents inside the box, the laws inside the systems. But the system-making, and what happens when systems collide, is also fascinating." After graduating, Sinha joined McCarthy Tétrault in Toronto. He says the firm's culture meant he immediately felt at home. "There was joie de vivre to what they did, which had not been something you're taught to assume about Big Law." Sinha describes a "professional manner of swashbuckling" at the firm that he wanted to support at the outset. "Twenty years ago, that was the ethos of a place that could have been a lot staider about the way it approached business and markets and what we now call innovation." When he first joined McCarthy Tétrault, he

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