Ms. Baron is a Co-Director of the Business Law Clinic and an Adjunct Professor at the Allard School of Law. She was called to the Bar in British Columbia in 2004, and assists small business clients with a variety of matters including incorporations, share structure, non-competition agreements and other contracts. Ms. Baron has helped many non-profit societies with their incorporations, bylaws and ongoing governance. She also practices estate planning and estate administration.
What inspired you to go to law school?
I started a business with my boyfriend (now my husband). We asked a lawyer for help with incorporating and to explain our lease to us. The lease was 40 pages and I couldn't make heads or tails of it, despite being an English Literature undergraduate student at the time. Our lawyer was kind, informative and immensely helpful to us. That was the first time I realized that lawyers can be planners and can help people prepare for their futures. Until that point in my life, I thought I would be a technical writer or a librarian, or pursue graduate studies in Canadian Literature. I think there are many opportunities for legal careers that we don't see portrayed in the media.
What is the most important thing to remember as a sole practitioner? What are the myths about being a sole practitioner?
You do not work alone, and you do not do all the work yourself. I keep in touch with my colleagues frequently. When my clients need legal advice on, for example, tax, litigation, or patent matters, I ask my colleagues to help my clients. I keep up to date on my own areas of practice, and I know that there are areas of law where my clients will be better served by other lawyers.
What have been some highlights to date while co-directing the Business Law Clinic?
My favourite part is watching the student-to-client relationship grow into that of advisor-to-entrepreneur. In the Clinic the students run their own files from start to finish (with support and mentoring from the supervising lawyer, of course). The students conduct the initial interview, get to know the client, work on the file, report back and forth between the client and the supervising lawyer, and then wind up the work. I see their skills and confidence grow.
My other favourite part is working with my Co-Director, Catherine Chow, Vice President and General Counsel at Keg Restaurants Ltd. Catherine and I work as a team. We think very similarly, even though our work outside the Clinic takes place in different sized organizations. Also, we laugh a lot. Having a sense of humour is a wonderful quality adds to the camaraderie at the Clinic.
What do you enjoy most about teaching Business Organizations?
I enjoy working through the building blocks. Business Organizations is a foundation course, so we start at the beginning with sole proprietorships and we work our way through partnerships and corporations all the way to the fiduciary duties of directors and then remedies for shareholders. We connect what we are learning today to what we learned last week. There are so many day to day examples of what we study, that I hope students feel engaged with their learning.
What advice would you give to students from the Allard School of Law entering the legal profession?
Having good manners will open just as many doors as having good grades. Law is a customer service industry. Show respect to everyone you encounter. Also, keep learning. You are not expected to know all the answers; instead, you are expected to go out and find the answers. As time goes by, you will become efficient at finding answers.