Canadian Lawyer

May 2024

The most widely read magazine for Canadian lawyers

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Page 29 of 51

28 FEATURE INHOUSE PROFILES DON ENG COMPANY: Save-On-Foods / Pattison Food Group TITLE: Vice president, legal As e-commerce surges, so does consumer awareness regarding privacy When Don Eng started the legal department as in-house legal counsel 30 years ago at what is now known as Pattison Food Group, the company didn't even have internet. Now, as vice president of legal and privacy officer at the food giant, Eng says the technological shift over the decades and especially the past few years has been tremendous. "We've grown, we've expanded," says Eng. "We've been around for over 100 years, and the face of our business has changed substantially." Eng highlights the acceleration of business pace and its legal implications as a critical theme. With the surge in e-commerce, he has seen heightened consumer awareness, particularly regarding privacy rights. "People are just more aware of what rights they have," he says. "Business is just moving a whole heck of a lot faster than it was in the past. So, in addition to that, there's lots of expansion into new areas." The rapid growth and complexity of the business world demand acute awareness and adaptation to the changing environment. Eng emphasizes staying current, especially in the past decade, when "technology has … become ever more important than it was before." Eng emphasizes listening to the business and team's needs when discussing legal strategy. But it's Eng's approach to working with external counsel that's particularly noteworthy. He advocates for maximizing in-house legal work, a strategy that diverges from the traditional outsourcing practice. "I always tried to do as much legal work in-house as possible," he says. This move saw the team grow – from a one-man legal department to a squad of 10 people. Although the work volume has increased, that doesn't mean Eng and his team can now do everything in-house – he says they still need outside counsel for areas such as labour, litigation, and any specific questions that might relate to very specialized/unique circumstances. ROBERT SOCCIO COMPANY: Navistar TITLE: General counsel, corporate secretary, and compliance officer Cross-continental counsel: Private practice experience invaluable for in-house career For Robert Soccio, it was his unique blend of private practice experience – specializing in corporate securities, finance and M&A transactions, and private and public corporate experiences, dealing with corporate commercial, regulatory, tax & finance, IP, data security, governance, compliance, labour & employment, litigation, and strategic projects, – that ultimately led him to his current role. As the Canadian general counsel, also with the global distribution mandate, at commercial vehicle manufacturer Navistar Canada, Soccio says that he draws on the relevance of these skills and experiences daily. "My time in private practice ... afforded me a deep understanding of the various legal landscapes and complexities involving various corporate securities, finance, and M&A matters in different legal jurisdictions. It has also assisted me in developing strong analytical skills [as well as] problem-solving abilities, which are essential for navigating complex legal issues that may arise in any organization and any industry." And Soccio's experiences in private practice were far from uniform. His journey extended across continents, from the bustling business hubs of Canada to the competitive markets of the United States and around the world, providing him with a panoramic perspective of global legal dynamics. "Those experiences have given me invaluable insight into the diverse and nuanced legal, regulatory, compliance requirements in my day-to-day work, as well as the array of best practices demanded by corporate securities, finance, and commercial law," he says. "Most importantly, my private practice experience allowed me to refine my interpersonal and communication skills. Effective communication with both internal and external stakeholders is paramount."

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