Q&A with Curt Howard (LLB '01): Head of Legal at Google Canada

Graduates from the Peter A. Allard School of Law can be found in some pretty unexpected places—Curt Howard is one of those graduates; we found him working at Google Canada.

As Head Legal Counsel for Google Canada (based in Toronto), Curt is part of an ever-evolving and nascent field of law. We had the opportunity to talk to Curt about his career path since leaving the Peter A. Allard School of law and his dynamic journey. Curt explains what led him toward this exciting career opportunity and how his experiences have shaped his legal interests.

Curt Howard, LLB '01

Your legal career has focused mainly in the field of technology; what drew you to this area of the law?
I’ve always been drawn to the technology and communications sectors. My father is a math and computer science graduate who worked for a major telecomms company, so even at a young age it was a constant presence in my life. The tech sector tends to be populated with fast-paced organizations striving to discover and to build amazing things. Often the law has not kept up with tech developments, which means tech sector lawyers frequently find themselves working on the cutting edge of the law. I find that an exciting place to be.

How did the opportunity to work at Google arise? How is the job different from others you have held?
Google had been in the Canadian market for years without a lawyer on the ground, but that model was no longer working for them. Google’s business had grown so much in size and breadth that they needed somebody dedicated to their Canadian legal needs. Being the first Canadian lawyer for a large organization headquartered in the US is an interesting challenge. I had a similar role at my previous employer, so had a reasonable sense of what would be involved. There’s a lot of flexibility to identify priorities and really create the role from scratch, which I find appealing. With such a diverse and far-reaching business, working at Google means I never have to worry about having a boring day at the office!

I noticed that you worked in the UK for two-years, what lessons did you take away from this experience?
I really enjoyed my time living and working in London. It was a booming period in the market and the large London-headquartered international firms were attracting young lawyers from all over the world, which made for a great, diverse team of colleagues. I was fortunate to have the opportunity to do a lot of international work when based out of a major Canadian firm, but my time in London took this to the next level. I was struck by the international portability of a diverse commercial and regulatory legal skill-set. It can really take you places!

What would you say is the most satisfying part of the work you do?
I find working as a generalist in-house counsel to be a very satisfying way to practice law. As a generalist, I get to touch almost every area of the business, which means the chance to constantly learn about legal topics that are new to me. As in-house counsel, I enjoy the ability to get deeply imbedded in the work and to shape its direction over the longer term.

Do you have any advice for lawyer’s who may be interested in pursuing a similar path?
My advice is to be intentional about your career. I suggest it’s important to take some time now and then to really think about the kind of work or role that resonates most with you and consider new opportunities both on their own merits and where they might lead you in the future. I’d also suggest not to shy away from opportunities to work in areas of the law that are new to you. While this might seem intimidating at first, applying your existing legal skills and some additional hard work will help you work through the challenge and inevitably you will grow as a professional.