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Facilitated by:  Paula Vital

Change is a natural part of life, and ironically the only constant.  Despite this reality, change and transitions are difficult to navigate.

All change is accompanied by concerns, fears, and questions:  How do I know if making this change will make me happy?  Is it meaningful?  How do I stay balanced in the face of uncertainty?  How do I know if I'm making the right decisions? How can I stay true to myself during this transition? 

This workshop will introduce tools, practices, and principles that can help you answer these questions as you assess the primary areas of importance in your life, determine whether change is needed, develop options, clarify what conflicts are at play, and begin to identify your priorities and tasks. 

These tools and mindfulness techniques will empower you to identify where you are at in any particular change, how you can best adapt to respond effectively to the situation, and help you navigate changes and transitions with clarity, grace and ease. 

This ultimately brings about improved well-being, life balance, and sustainability all of which are essential for effective leadership in one’s professional and personal life.


Paula Vital is an award-winning mindfulness coach, yoga therapist, speaker and writer dedicated to helping you move from striving to thriving by accessing the power of the present moment.  As a trained lawyer, senior advisor at the Ontario government, and mother of two, Paula is uniquely able to help busy professionals apply powerful mindfulness principles to everyday life.

Paula is a Level 2 Unified Mindfulness Coach and an Internationally Certified Yoga Therapist (C- IAYT). She completed Levels I and II of Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction training and has two yoga teacher certifications (Classical Hatha and Vinyasa). She is also a partner in MT Mindfulness Consulting. 

Paula offers yoga therapy and mindfulness coaching to individuals and groups, speaks regularly at corporate events on the power of mindfulness, and has been featured at TEDx “ideas worth spreading”.  She has contributed articles on mindfulness, wellness and resilience to the Huffington Post, Elephant Journal, Tiny Buddha, and Personal Growth.

Paula launched the award-winning Ontario Cabinet Office and Premier's Office Healthy Workplace, Healthy Mind initiative and leads the Ontario Public Service Mindfulness Program, offering daily mindfulness to over 60,000+ public servants across the province. 

Korn Ferry Leadership Model and Professional Development Assessment

Facilitated by: Cleo Kirkland & Kendra Marion, MASc. ACC, Korn Ferry,  Brian Martin, Made to Measure Consulting & Coaching

Aligns Execution: Planning and prioritizing work to meet commitments aligned with organizational goals.
Collaborates: Building partnerships and working collaboratively with others to meet shared objectives.
Cultivates Innovation: Creating new and better ways for the organization to be successful.
Develops Talent: Developing people to meet both their career goals and the organization’s goals.
Directs Work: Providing direction, delegating, and removing obstacles to get work done.
Drives Results: Constantly achieving results, even under tough circumstances.
Engages and Inspires: Creating a climate where people are motivated to do their best to help the organization achieve its objectives.
Global Perspectives: Taking a broad view when approaching issues, using a global lens.
Instills Trust: Gaining the confidence and trust of others through honesty, integrity, and authenticity.
Managing Ambiguity: Operating effectively, even when things are not certain or the way forward is unclear.
Situational Adaptability: Adapting approach and demeanour in real time to match the shifting demands of different situations.
Strategic Vision: Seeing ahead to future possibilities and translating then into breakthroug
h strategies.


Cleo Kirkland is the Managing Partner of Korn Ferry's Toronto and Montreal offices and is a key member of the Firm's Financial Services Practice.

Cleo has led hundreds of general counsel, chief compliance officer, corporate secretary, chief risk officer and other senior in-house legal, compliance, risk and executive searches. Much of her time is spent advising leading Canadian and International law firms on succession planning, expansion and targeted lateral partner recruitment. She is also actively involved in broader firm-building activities, including serving on the North American Promotions Committee, acting as a faculty for new partner training and leading development sessions for consultants across lines of business. She also sits on the Participant Approval Committee for the Catalyst Women On Board Program.

Cleo is a lawyer and before starting her career in search, she practiced commercial litigation. She holds a bachelor of arts in philosophy and music (with First Class Honours) from Queen's University and both civil and common law degrees (with Distinction) from McGill University. She was admitted to the Ontario Bar in 2004.

Kendra Marion  co-leads Korn Ferry's North American Search Assessment practice. In this role she assesses executives and consults with clients to identify the most qualified candidates for the key roles that drive the success of their organizations. In addition to selection, she leverages her psychology and assessment expertise to coach executives offering insight and feedback and helping them to accelerate into new positions.

Kendra is a specialist in understanding the way talent management supports organizations. She has diverse career experience, working in the public sector as well as the private resource sector in talent management and leadership development. Prior to joining Korn Ferry, she worked for a mining organization where she created and managed leadership development initiatives globally. With over 17 years' experience in talent management, executive assessment and career placement, Kendra approaches assessment and coaching with a strong sense of the skills required for leaders to succeed. 

Kendra holds a Master of Applied Science degree in Industrial/Organizational psychology from the University of Waterloo and an Honours B.A. in Psychology from Wilfrid Laurier University. She is also an ICF credentialed coach. She is fluent in English and Portuguese, and has lived in countries on three continents.

Brian Martin, CHRE, ACC is an ICF certified coach. He has built a career helping thousands of individuals, leaders, teams, and organizations optimize business performance and employee engagement.

His senior executive experience encompasses store operations and human resources positions within highly recognized Canadian and U.S. retail companies including the Hudson’s Bay Company, Dylex, Winners & HomeSense.

As the Vice President, Global Talent Management for the TJX Companies (Fortune 100 headquartered in Boston, MA.) he was responsible for the corporation’s leadership development programs and processes. In addition to overseeing succession planning, and leadership assessment he personally coached high potential candidates for c-suite positions. Clients appreciate his candour and direct approach that helps them think and act differently; building deeper awareness, expanding choices, and finding the courage and confidence to act in bold ways.

More recently he was the Vice President of Human Resources for Indigo & Chapters where he rebuilt core HR programs, processes and enhanced the employee brand and experience. He currently operates Made to Measure Performance and Engagement Solutions, a boutique coaching and consulting firm.

He has served on the Board of Directors for the Toronto Children's Chorus and was a champion for Art for Heart and Fashion Cares. An advocate for childhood literacy, his company is proud to sponsor Dolly Parton's Imagination Library.


Facilitated by: Awi Sinha, Gillian Smith, Wendy Berman, Gillian Kerr, Dorothy Charach, Patrice Rouse, McCarthy Tétrault

Surge Effect is the phenomenon of sudden, intense calls for corporate action in response to an event, usually global in nature, that fuels social unrest, resistance and grassroots engagement. These political and cultural flashpoints create real-time corporate morality tests for your organization – public reckonings of your espoused values in the marketplace.

In this strategic 90 minute session, expert Surge Effect counsel, experienced General Counsel and leading Public Relations experts will discuss the role of the General Counsel in Surge Effect risk management including:

1. Navigating the unique and often unprecedented issues arising from Surge Effects

2. Balancing corporate risk and public communications advice

3. Limiting reputational damage and business exposure to liability

4. Determining when it is appropriate for Surge Effects to boost brand reputation and when it’s best to keep a low profile.

Competency: Global Perspective


Gillian Smith, was appointed as managing partner of NATIONAL’s Toronto office in October 2020. Gillian has more than 20 years of experience in public relations and strategic communications. Over the course of her career, she has held senior positions with multiple organizations in the private, public, and not-for-profit sectors including RBC, Aeroplan, the Toronto Region Board of Trade and the Institute for Canadian Citizenship. Before joining NATIONAL, she was working at her own consulting agency, acting as a senior advisor with a portfolio of C-suite and Board clients across multiple industries, including healthcare, technology, financial services and energy. Gillian Smith serves as a board director with the Ontario Science Centre, TO Live, Toronto Arts Foundation, Business and the Arts, the Ontario Cultural Attractions Fund and The Walrus Foundation. She also ran for the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario in the 2018 provincial election.     

Awi Sinha, is a partner in our litigation group and Co-Lead | Public Sector. He advises clients on extraordinary circumstances that involve political risk, unforeseen circumstances and transformative strategy projects. Decision-makers value his ability to see around corners, separate key information from background noise, and find creative solutions for uncertain times. Awi's work in the infrastructure, energy and public policy contexts demonstrates a new model of litigator as acts for corporations on the cutting edge of major public/private projects.

  • A trusted and innovative advisor, providing risk management and litigation advice in significant infrastructure, P3, private energy projects and project disputes
  • Appears as lead counsel at arbitration, trial, and various court proceedings related to claims in procurement, breach of Project Agreement, construction deficiencies, construction lien and challenges to municipal by-laws
  • Often involved in high-profile matters that involve political or public relations sensitivities or diverse stakeholder interests
  • Awi serves on the board of the Canadian Club: Toronto, one of Canada’s oldest and most respected events organizations for speakers on critical topics in the Canadian conversation. 

Representative experience includes:

  • Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment (MLSE): COVID-Era Return-to-Play: During the pandemic, MT | Public Sector acted for MLSE in its regulatory, public health and government negotiation processes for the iterative return to play for the National Hockey League (NHL), the National Basketball Association (NBA) and Major League Soccer (MLS) in Canada, including for MLSE’s winning bid to the host the 2020 NHL “Playoffs Bubble” in Toronto and the 2021 return from Tampa Bay of the Toronto Raptors for the 2021/2022 season.
  • VAX-PASS Initiative: Leading on legal thinking for the viability of COVID-19 vaccine passports for private businesses, MT | Public Sector worked with the Ontario Chamber of Commerce and the Toronto Regional Board of Trade to create the VAX-PASS Tenets
  • Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation in its transformational project to modernize its province-wide casino gaming business                 

Patrice Rouse, Patrice Rouse is Farm Mutual Re’s General Counsel and Corporate Secretary. She oversees the legal, corporate secretary, compliance, and privacy functions for the company and its subsidiary. Patrice began her career at a Wall Street firm in New York City and has over 17 years of progressive leadership experience with legal expertise as a regulatory, governance, litigation and transactional attorney in the insurance, banking, securities, and capital markets industries in Canada, the US, and the Caribbean. Patrice graduated cum laude from Howard University School of Law in Washington, DC and holds an Honours Bachelor of Arts from the University of Toronto. Patrice is a strong advocate for inclusion, has always been committed to community service, and throughout her professional career has devoted her time to pro bono practice and volunteer work reflecting these values. 

Wendy Berman, Wendy leads our securities litigation practice and is one of Canada’s foremost securities litigators with exceptional expertise in securities regulatory investigations and proceedings, corporate misconduct investigations, shareholder remedies, securities class actions, litigation aspects of proxy contests, take-over bids and other acquisitions, and corporate governance.

  • Has acted for public companies and their directors and officers in some of Canada’s largest and most significant investigations and proceedings relating to allegations of corporate misconduct, disclosure violations, fraud and insider trading
  • Served as Vice-Chair of the OSC from June 2020 to December 2021. She was also the executive sponsor for a number of important securities policy initiatives (including climate-related disclosure, vulnerable investors and syndicated mortgages) and approved the first six applications for crypto-asset trading platforms in Canada.
  • Recognized as a leading securities litigation lawyer by Chambers Canada (Band 1), Lexpert/American Lawyer Guide to the Leading 500 Lawyers in Canada, Lexpert Guide to the Leading US/Canada Cross-Border Lawyers in Canada
  • Recognized by Benchmark Litigation as a “Litigation Star” in the Securities category, and one of the “Top 25 Canadian Women in Litigation”
  • Recipient of the Lexpert Zenith Award honouring leading women lawyers, Canadian recipient of the International Law Office Client Choice Award for exceptional legal work and client service in litigation 

Representative experience includes advising:

  • Bank of Montreal in a $1 billion putative class action involving allegations of price fixing of foreign exchange instruments and a related putative derivative class action
  • Bank of Montreal in a $1 billion putative class action involving allegations of price fixing of foreign exchange instruments and a related putative derivative class action  Bank of Montreal in a $1 billion putative class action involving allegations of price fixing of foreign exchange instruments and a related putative derivative class action

Gillian Kerr, Gillian assists high-profile clients facing complex issues and reputational risk, offering considered, thoughtful, creative roadmaps to deliver outcomes that are right for them.

  • Practice is focused on competition class actions, defamation and media law, and political law
  • A seasoned trial lawyer with experience arguing lengthy trials before both judges and juries, with experience appearing before the Ontario Court of Appeal, Superior Court of Justice and administrative tribunals Clients value her dedicated advocacy and unparalleled judgement, which is a by-product of her holistic approach

Representative experience includes: 

  • Counsel to BMW in Quenneville et al. ats Audi et al., an ongoing putative class action alleging anti-competitive conspiratorial conduct in the German Automotive Sector
  • Counsel to Paldo Co. Ltd. and Korea Yakult Co. Ltd., two large Korean food and beverage makers, in a class action alleging anti-competitive conduct, successfully obtaining a without costs dismissal against those defendants
  • Counsel to Holy Stone Enterprise Co. in an ongoing putative class action alleging anticompetitive conduct in the electrolytic capacitors market
  • Counsel to Dow Chemical in a class action alleging anti-competitive conduct in the polyether polyols market
  • Counsel to Lear Corporation in a class action alleging anti-competitive conduct in the automotive parts sector
  • Counsel to Uber in Uber v. Konjevic, a putative class action currently proceeding at the Superior Court of Justice
  • Counsel to CBC in CBC v. Subway, an action concerning food products currently proceeding at the Superior Court of Justice

Dorothy Charach, Dorothy maintains a broad litigation practice with an emphasis on product liability, class actions, professional liability, and defamation.

  • Appeared before several courts and tribunals, including the Ontario Court of Appeal, the Divisional Court of Ontario, the Ontario Superior Court, the Ontario Court of Justice, and the Health Professions Appeal and Review Board
  • Experience serving as lead counsel at the trial and appellate level
  • Acts as counsel for pharmaceutical and medical device companies in the defence of class actions and has played a key role in contesting certification as well as facilitating strategic and favourable settlement
  • Significant trial experience, including acting as co-counsel in four lengthy jury trials, cross-examining seasoned experts on complex medical issues, and successfully obtaining dismissal verdicts on behalf of the defendant physicians in each case
  • Adept at arguing procedural motions, including successfully resisting a plaintiff’s motion to extend the time for service of a claim 
  • Contributing author to the fifth edition of “Defending Class Actions in Canada”, published by Lexis Nexis


Facilitated by: Gillian Scott, Jennifer Thompson, Osler

Design Thinking methodology can help those in GC or other legal department leadership roles to vastly improve how legal services are delivered. Osler’s Design Thinking Workshop for Legal Leaders is designed to equip participants with the tools to both re-envision and improve the ways in which they work in order to contribute to stronger business outcomes. The session will explore the fundamentals of Design Thinking and collaboration to solve common work challenges within the context of a modern legal department. Facilitated by design-thinking experts, the Osler Design Thinking Workshop will help participants become better strategic partners to their business.

Competency: Aligns Execution


Gillian Scott, Litigation Operations & Products, Partner, Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP. Gillian is a partner at Osler, a leading Canadian business law firm. In her unique, dual business-side role, Gillian supports the National Litigation Department’s strategic operational goals and provides leadership to the firm on the management of Osler’s innovative legal product offerings. Gillian is focused on transforming the business of law through practical and incremental change based in talent, process improvement, informed data analysis and technology.

Gillian brings 15 years as a commercial litigator and litigation partner at Osler, three years in Client Development and three years in products to her role, giving her a unique understanding of both law firm and client-side challenges, pain points and business objectives.

Gillian is based in Osler’s Toronto office.

Jennifer Thompson is the Head of Osler Works – Disputes, which houses Osler’s Discovery Management Services, along with many other innovative litigation solutions. Jennifer’s previous commercial litigation, project management and knowledge management experience make her uniquely positioned to facilitate Osler’s efficient and effective delivery of cutting-edge legal services. Jennifer and her team accomplish this by working with all members of the Litigation Department to ensure that the legal, intellectual and practical expertise of each member is captured and readily accessible to all legal professionals at Osler. Jennifer also leads the continuous assessment and development of legal technology in the Litigation Department and facilitates the education and training of Osler litigators and clients with respect to new developments in this area.

As Head of Osler Works - Disputes, Jennifer leads an experienced team of interdisciplinary discovery specialists who possess a broad range of legal, technology and management skills and experience. Jennifer and her team collaborate with clients and litigators at the outset of each litigation matter to strategically design customized discovery solutions for clients. They provide invaluable advice and assistance on a host of discovery-related issues such as: initial preservation of data; data collection; formulating comprehensive discovery plans; data processing and hosting; the use of data analytics and AI capabilities to reduce review sets and increase efficiencies during review; review of data on first instance, for confidentiality and/or privilege issues and quality control review; presentation and preparation for discovery and trial; and much more.


Facilitated by: Gary Kalaci, Alexa Translations: Sacha Fraser, IBM Canada

In-house legal teams are increasingly playing an integral role in their respective businesses. GCs are no longer just providing legal solutions, but contributing to the business with broader advice and strategies that help advance the goals of their respective organizations.

This means that GCs will have to think more like entrepreneurs and business leaders when it comes to decision-making and leadership. In this session, GCs will engage in discussions on the following topics:

  • How to be more entrepreneurial with your respective legal teams and how to integrate the legal team's focus on advancing the vision of the business;
  • How to promote a culture of innovation, including how to select and introduce transformation initiatives, new technologies, prepare for their adoption, and ensure effective implementation;
  • Best practices when working with global, diverse and multicultural legal teams, and how those teams can be an asset to the business.

Competency: Cultivates Innovation


Gary Kalaci is the CEO and founder of Alexa Translations, an international translations’ company, as well as Alexa Translations AI, an artificial intelligence  machine translation company. With more than 20 years of experience as an entrepreneur, Gary has consulted, managed translations, and cultural consulting projects for a variety of clients including major international law firms, financial institutions, government organizations and Fortune 500 companies.

Gary is an Ontario lawyer, and has taught “Dynamics of Business Negotiations” as a sessional professor for MBA students at the University of Windsor. As the recipient of the Toronto Board of Trade Business Excellence Award, the Windsor-Essex Chamber of Commerce's Rising Star Award, the Thérèse Casgrain Volunteer Award and the University of Windsor’s Alumni Association Odyssey Award, his work as an entrepreneurial leader and as an active professional in the community has been recognized by a variety of organizations. He currently sits on the Board of Directors of Junior Achievement Americas, and is the founder and chair of Golden Future - South Africa. He is the former President of Eastern Canada for the Legal Marketing Association and previously sat on the board of Junior Achievement Canada, the the University of Windsor, United Way, the AIDS Committee, as well as the section executive of the Canadian Corporate Counsel Association.

Gary has a Bachelor of Science and a combined JD and MBA degree from the University of Windsor.

Sacha Fraser is General Counsel at IBM Canada, where she oversees numerous innovation and transformation initiatives and is the champion of Team Effectiveness for IBM Americas. 

Change and entrepreneurial mindset have been constants during Sacha’s diverse legal and business executive roles.  Sacha obtained her Lean Six Sigma Green Belt Certification with a project called “Take Back The Hour” that drove efficiencies in the way Xerox Canada employees use email.  In her first business executive role with Xerox’s Channel Operations, Sacha helped drive 276% growth and received the President’s Award for Innovation. Sacha then led a strategy team that re-imagined and executed a roadmap for a more productive and engaged workforce.  In her last business role, Sacha ran Xerox’s Transition organization and obtained credentials in Transformation Management Process and the ITIL Foundational Certificate in IT Service Management.  Having joined the in-house practice the day PIPEDA was enacted, Sacha helped build Xerox’s initial privacy office and served as CPO.  Now, she is readying IBM and working with Technation to address another wave of change in Privacy and AI legislation. 

Sacha started her career as a litigator in 1993.  She received her BA in Math and her LLB from Queen’s University.


Facilitated by: Keya Dasgupta, Heidi Reinhart; Norton Rose,  Shanin Lott, Russell Reynolds Associates, Connie Gibson, Interac Corp.

In this session, Keya Dasgupta will moderate a discussion with a panel of legal talent development leaders on: (i) how to build your team brand and why it matters; (ii) the role of trust in team performance; and (iii) growing your capability and reputation as a leader.

Competency: Develops Talent


As head of learning and development in Canada, Keya Dasgupta leads a national team of in-house trainers in both professional skills and technology learning. Keya sets and executes our continuing professional development strategy for legal and business services talent. She has over a decade of experience designing and delivering professional skills programs, providing executive coaching on management, leadership and communication skills, and speaking at legal and professional development industry conferences.

Prior to joining Norton Rose Fulbright, Keya practiced as a civil litigator, both in intellectual property and general commercial litigation. She has appeared before the Federal Court of Canada in complex patent litigation matters and before the Ontario Superior Court in commercial litigation disputes. Her years of practice have given her insight into the learning and development needs of people in the professional services sector.

Heidi Reinhart’s practice covers all aspects of securities and corporate law, with an emphasis on public and private mergers and acquisitions, corporate finance and providing corporate governance and securities regulatory advice. Ms. Reinhart is a member of our special situations team, which focuses on shareholder activist and defence mandates and complex M&A and reorganization transactions.

Ms. Reinhart has represented both purchasers and vendors (public and private corporations) in a number of friendly and hostile M&A transactions, including plans of arrangement, takeover bids and statutory restructurings. Ms. Reinhart has also represented both public companies and underwriters in connection with public offerings, including initial public offerings, and has acted on behalf of issuers and investors in numerous private placement financings.

Ms. Reinhart has been named as a Leading Lawyer in The Canadian Legal Lexpert Directory under "Repeatedly Recommended - Corporate Finance and Securities." She is also featured in the Lexpert Special Edition - Finance and M&A (2022).

She is a member of the Ontario Securities Commission's Securities Advisory Committee (SAC) and the Toronto Stock Exchange Listing Advisory Committee. She is a former member of the Ontario Business Law Modernization and Burden Reduction Council.

Ms. Reinhart acts as co-chair of the NRFC Toronto Students' Committee and is a member of the firm's Partnership Promotions Committee.

Shanin Lott partners with professional services clients, with a focus on law firms, to identify and develop forward-looking leaders. Based in Toronto and New York, she advises C-suites on executive searches, leadership assessment, team effectiveness, and culture analysis.

Shanin brings extensive experience advising high-performance, client-centric professional services firms in deeply competitive landscapes. Previously, she was the chief people officer for the Canadian region of Norton Rose Fulbright, and was instrumental in supporting the firm’s global people and culture strategy. In that role, she developed and executed the people strategy across functions, including talent attraction and development, performance, DE&I, culture and engagement, and HR operations. Shanin has also worked on extensive corporate culture audits. Before that, she led talent management and marketing and communications teams at Stikeman Elliott, a top-tier Canadian law firm. She has also practiced law in NYC and Canada.

Shanin holds a BA (hons) in English literature from the University of Windsor, and an LLB from the University of Ottawa. She is called to the bars of Ontario and New York.

As Chief Legal Officer and Corporate Secretary of Interac Corp, Conni Gibson has over 20 years of extensive governance, compliance, regulatory and legal experience in the financial services industry. She is highly skilled at sourcing and developing talent, and driving transformational change for best in practice legal and compliance programs. Prior to Interac, Conni held a number of roles at BMO Financial Group in Toronto and New York, most recently as Vice-President and Chief Legal Officer of Technology and Operations and Corporate Areas.


Facilitated by: Jeff Davis, Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan

Competency: Instills Trust 

We’ve all had moments in the past few years where we've turned to the words of Brene Brown, Adam Grant or even Ted Lasso to provide balm for our emotional souls in an unpredictable world.    Listen to Jeff's story, and how he's applied the power of embracing, rather than avoiding, our vulnerabilities, to harness courage, connection and innovation as a leader.


Jeff Davis, oversees board governance, legal, compliance,  government and public affairs, and plan policy.

Jeff's focus is on strategy, culture and nurturing internal talent. He describes himself as an “imperfect” leader, because he strives to be his authentic and imperfect self at the workplace and at home.  This approach has informed his people-centric leadership style, which is built upon principles of vulnerability, empathy and trust.  

Jeff proudly oversees a dynamic team of over 80 professionals across the globe comprising Ontario Teachers’ Corporate Affairs division, including lawyers, compliance officers, lobbyists, plan policy experts and other governance support functions.  

This award winning team supports several critical functions which enable Ontario Teachers’ to deliver on its purpose - to invest to shape a better future.   

Jeff has nearly 25 years of legal experience, specializing in mergers and acquisitions and corporate finance. In 2009, Jeff was recognized as one of Lexpert's Rising Stars – Leading Lawyers Under 40, and was a finalist in the Deal Making category of the Canadian General Counsel Awards. In 2018, he was the recipient of the Chambers & Partners award for Outstanding Contribution to the Legal Profession and in 2019 he was named General Counsel of the Year by the Canadian General Counsel Awards.  Jeff is the Co-President of the Executive Committee of Legal Leaders for Diversity and Inclusion, and is a board member of Acorn Health, a US provider of ABA autism therapy for children with autism.

Jeff has spoken at numerous venues on vulnerability, leadership and corporate culture, including at the Tulane annual M&A conference in 2020, Harvard Law School, and many conferences on law, leadership and mental health. In addition, Jeff has authored numerous articles on this subject matter, most recently for the American Lawyer in 2021.  

Jeff earned an LLB from Osgoode Hall Law School and a BA from the University of Western Ontario.


Facilitated by: Sandra Abitan, Lori Gauld, Osler

DiSC is a behavioural profile assessment - one of the most commonly used tools in leadership training around the world. It is both a self-awareness tool, and a framework for working effectively with different behavioural styles. As a leader, you must collaborate with others to get work done. Being able to recognize when & how to flex your preferred approach can help you communicate and persuade across differences, and build stronger teams. All participants will have an opportunity to complete a 10 minute online assessment and will receive a personalized report before the program.

Competency: Manages Ambiguity


Sandra Abitan is the Managing Partner of the Montreal office. She has played a significant role in the development of the office over the years and has held various leadership roles within the Firm. Sandra is a recognized leader in the insolvency and restructuring practice in Quebec and nationally. Her clientele is diverse and reflective of the Canadian and international business community – global companies, financial institutions, equity participants, and court officers who have sought her advice in working through reorganizations, recapitalizations, restructurings and strategic acquisitions.

With over 30 years of experience, Sandra has an expertise in cross border and international matters, acting for a number of major private and public corporations operating in a variety of areas. She is lauded for her creative and practical approach to problem solving and finding solutions to complex business and legal problems. Read more

As an experienced learning designer with a master’s certification in organizational development and an interest in educational technology, Lori Gaulds focus is on building engaging, purposeful participant experiences. A frequent presenter, Lori has designed and delivered a wide variety of leadership, skills and education topics, and has facilitated strategic planning and group decision-making events for professional groups and international associations.

Currently the Director, Learning Initiatives at Osler, Hoskin, Harcourt LLP where she oversees the delivery of national learning, Lori has worked in a number of roles and industries prior to law, including instructional designer at the corporate university of a large bank; leadership consultant; and leader of the medical Simulation Centre and Student Centre at an academic teaching hospital. She is a member of the Professional Development Consortium, previously acted as co-chair of the eLearning Alliance of Canadian Hospitals and was a board member for ACCORD, an organizational development professionals group.


Facilitated by: Joanna Harper, Catalyst Canada

Join Catalyst for the session, Becoming an Inclusive Leader, to learn how to turn diversity into a competitive advantage and how inclusion can foster innovation and lead teams to perform at a higher level. Participants will explore how to create workplace inclusion, identify strategies to become a more inclusive leader, and understand the Catalyst Inclusive Leadership Model and competencies.

Competency: Engages and Inspires


Vandana Juneja is Vice President & Head, Global Advisory Services, Catalyst. Vandana is a non-profit leader with a passion for advancing women in the workplace and society. As VP & Head, Global Advisory Services for Catalyst, Vandana and her team provide high impact boutique DEI consulting and thought leadership, guiding organizations across the globe to accelerate the advancement of women and underrepresented groups through the pipeline to leadership and the boardroom.

A trusted advisor, she coaches and counsels F500 companies across industries with respect to their strategies to advance women into leadership and to create inclusive environments where all individuals can thrive. She works closely with corporate supporters, professional organizations, CEOs and senior leaders to advance their shared mission. A diversity, equity, and inclusion expert, she has worked with companies around the globe including in Canada, the US, Europe, Asia, Australia and Latin America. She frequently speaks to corporate audiences and has been quoted in media/publications such as The Globe and Mail, The Toronto Star, CTV News, Zoomer Radio, and HR Reporter on issues related to women's leadership and DEI.

A lawyer by training, Vandana practiced immigration law earlier in her career, following which she worked in the global diversity and inclusion groups of two Canadian banks. Her past experience also includes working as a research associate for the Status of Women Canada as well as travelling to Vietnam with an NGO in partnership with the University of Toronto to evaluate a micro-finance project designed to lift women out of poverty and into the mainstream banking system.

Vandana has earned a B.Comm. from McMaster University, an MBA from the University of Windsor, and an LL.B. from the University of Ottawa.

Joanna Harper is a Director in Corporate Engagement in Canada. In this role, she provides advice and assistance to Catalyst Supporter organizations, helping them to leverage Catalyst’s expertise and resources to create inclusive workplaces. She is also a member of the Catalyst Canada Honours evaluation committee.

Previously, Joanna was the Director, Global Event Content & Virtual Engagement, where she led and developed the Catalyst webinar schedule and content. Joanna joined Catalyst in 2011 as the Office Manager in Canada before moving onto the Events team.

Joanna holds a Honours Bachelor of Science with majors in Psychology and Biology from the University of Toronto.


Driving Innovation, Delivering Results: Inspiring Women Legal Leaders



Nicole St-Louis, National Leader, BLG Beyond & National Co-Leader

Nicole is the National Business Leader of BLG Beyond and is the founder and Co-Leader of Beyond Leasing.

Nicole leads up Canada’s largest leasing group and supports clients with large national portfolios. Nicole brings a business-focused perspective to Beyond Leasing, garnered from her long experience as an executive at Canada’s largest retailer. She is the driving force behind Beyond Leasing’s unrelenting focus on process, technology and efficiency.


Nicole has over 20 years of experience in the real estate industry. She has managed large real estate portfolios and has extensive experience working with both landlords and tenants and complex project management including leading a large managed service portfolio for one Canada’s leading property owners. Nicole leads a collaborative, dedicated team of leasing specialist whose mission it is to bring clients the very best leasing services, on a fully integrated national platform, utilizing the most cutting-edge technologies and incorporating the best practices from across the country.


Bindu Cudjoe, Executive Vice President, Chief Legal Officer and Corporate Secretary, Laurentian Bank

Terrie-Lynne Devonish, Chief Legal Officer & Corporate Secretary, Altus Group

Kathleen Flynn, National Board of Habitat for Humanity Canada (former Executive Vice President Real Estate, General Counsel and Corporate Secretary for Indigo)


Effecting Change Through Strategic Law Firm Collaboration

This session addresses next-level client/law firm relationships founded on shared values, mutual accountability and trust that are managed through an overall governance structure. The group will share best practices and experiences on how to invest in the relationship, foster ongoing two-way open feedback, enhance value and deepen the relationship beyond providing legal services. 


Judith McKay is Chief Client & Innovation Officer at McCarthy Tétrault. She leads the firm’s client relations and marketing strategy, and oversees business development, research, pricing, knowledge integration and innovation capabilities. She founded the firm’s MT>Align division which provides clients with access to top tier independent contract lawyers to support their short-term or temporary legal needs. She also provides strategic commercial and intellectual property counsel to clients.

Prior to joining the firm, Judith (a chemical engineer and an IP lawyer by training) was Vice President and General Counsel for DuPont Pioneer, responsible for legal affairs internationally. Prior to this position, she was Chief Administrative Officer and General Counsel for DuPont Canada, where she led the company's operating team as well as legal and public affairs.


Wendy Berman is a partner in McCarthy Tétrault’s litigation group in the Toronto office where she leads the securities litigation practice. She is one of Canada’s foremost securities litigators with extensive experience in complex commercial and securities-related litigation. She has exceptional expertise in corporate misconduct investigations, shareholder remedies, securities class actions, securities regulatory investigations and proceedings, litigation aspects of proxy contests, take-over bids and other acquisitions, and corporate governance.  Continue reading…

Shara Roy, Chief Legal Counsel, EY Canada

Advocacy. Strategy. Innovation. These are the words that have come to define Shara’s career for the last 20 years. Shara’s expertise as a powerful advocate resides in her ability to distill complex problems by getting to the heart of the issue and focusing on creative but practical solutions.

As EY Canada’s Chief Legal Counsel, Shara is responsible for all legal matters for the firm including litigation, regulatory compliance, governance, contracts, commercial agreements and transactions and employment-related matters. 

Recognized as a thought leader in diversity, equity and inclusion, Shara has received accolades for her work, including the award-winning website, where she helped to level the playing field on referrals in the legal profession. Shara brings that passion to the business world as the Chair of 50-50 Women on Boards in Toronto and the 30% Club. Shara’s community involvement includes being a cabinet member of the United Way Major Giving Cabinet and a steering committee member for Malachy’s Soiree benefitting the St. Michael’s Hospital NICU.

Shara holds a Juris Doctorate (Honours) from the University of Toronto and a BA in English (High Honours) from McGill University.

Strategic Alignment & Execution for Legal Departments

This session will be led by Paula Pepin, Founder of LexGO, a boutique consulting firm focused on helping in-house legal departments become strategic and operationally focused. In this session, Paula will lead you through the concepts of strategic planning. Through a highly interactive workshop, you will learn how to turn strategy into a simple action plan for your own legal department and get a deeper understanding of the practical tools and strategies that GCs can use to craft their own legal department strategic plan. 

Paula Pepin, Founder of LexGO


Managing Risk Through Internal Investigations

In this session, two experienced litigators, one of whom was the Head of BMO Financial Group's Canadian Corporate Investigations team and Associate General Counsel, will discuss using internal investigations to demonstrate strong risk management and good governance in uncertain situations.


                              Sandeep Joshi                                                        Susan Kushneryk
                Partner, Kushneryk Morgan LLP                              Partner, Kushneryk Morgan LLP                         

Crisis Leadership - Moving from Reaction to Response

The role of the General Counsel is critical during times of crisis, where navigating the risks, impacts, and challenges of reacting vs responding can directly affect results. This session will explore the essential competencies required of General Counsel leaders when managing a crisis response.

We will discuss the importance of strategic thinking, decision-making and communication during times of uncertainty. Additionally, we will explore the role of adaptability and agility and how your approach needs to evolve while staying focused on organizational goals.  Managing teams, stakeholders and relationships is more challenging when facing crisis which often requires extra care and attention. Through case studies and real-world examples, we will examine how successful General Counsel leaders have applied these competencies to effectively lead their organizations through crises. Attendees will leave with actionable insights and strategies for enhancing their own crisis leadership capabilities.


         Hélène Deschamps Marquis                                   Nasim Ghasemi                                              Shannon Parker
   Partner, Deloitte Legal Canada LLP             Associate, Deloitte Legal Canada LLP                Director in Risk Advisory, Deloitte

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