April Lawyer Feature – Donya Vahidi, Shareholder

Donya Vahidi is a Shareholder at Boughton Law and a member of the business, intellectual property and indigenous law practice areas. Her professional bio can be found here

You studied at TRU and have continued to ‘give back’ to the school. Tell us a little bit about that and what it means to help future lawyers on their journey

TRU was a new law school when I was admitted (I was in the second graduating class), so the students and faculty really banded together to support one another through the novelty of it all. We didn’t have the advantage of an established reputation in the legal market, or alumni to connect with or lean on for support or mentorship.

This led to an extremely supportive environment among the law students and faculty, with less of a competitive undertone than you’d expect for a law school. After I graduated, I continued to support the students by attending their annual student lead conferences and guest lecturing from time to time. It’s important to stay connected as alumni, especially in the legal profession which can be quite intimidating when you’re graduating law school and trying to land articles.

Also, I didn’t have any connections whatsoever to the legal community in Vancouver when I started out. I know how it feels to have to make those connections through networking and persistence. Now that I am in a position to support law students that are in the same position I was, I truly feel it’s my duty to provide that support.

A diverse roster clients and industries has been a hallmark of your career, what are some of the sectors you’ve worked with clients in and do you see any emerging spaces you’re keen to see develop further?

Most, if not all, of my business clients are taking advantage of the marketing tools offered by social media. The landscape for marketing and advertising has completely changed over the last 5-10 years, which leads to changes in law, which in turn will have legal implications on businesses utilizing those tools.

As an example, most businesses aren’t aware of the various legal obligations they have when engaging public figures or influencers to promote their products or their brand. That’s where I come in to advise. It’s an emerging area and I’ve been fortunate to see it unfold firsthand as I advise my clients on how to navigate these unchartered territories.

What’s your core philosophy around client service? Are there any key learnings/moments during your career that you wish all young lawyers knew

It’s important to know your clients on a deeper level. I enjoy learning about my clients and their businesses. I become familiar with the goods and services they offer, and most times I end up becoming a client of theirs! In my view, if I am advising my client, the more I understand their business, the more valuable I can be to them as their legal advisor.

How has the practice of law changed over the past year and what does it mean for future changes? are clients eager for this or helping to drive it?

We are seeing changes within the firm and outside the firm. By this I mean, lawyers quickly adapted to working from home, and connecting with each other and with their clients via video-conferencing platforms. One interesting but odd change was the sudden resistance to participate in traditional conference calls – it seemed like all calls were almost immediately transitioned to video-conferences, even at the beginning of the pandemic. In my view this was a reflection of the innate need we have as social beings to stay connected to one another. It’s been fascinating to see the world adapt, but I do miss and look forward to seeing my clients in person when we are on the other side of this. Virtual ‘closing celebrations’ just aren’t the same!

Finally, when you’re not lawyering, what activities or communities do you participate in?

When I’m not lawyering, I’m usually testing out new ingredients or trying to master a new recipe. More recently, I have been taking French lessons 1-2 days a week (through an online video-conferencing platform). Speaking French fluently has been a life-long goal so this has been a silver lining of the pandemic for me.