This month’s spotlight is on longtime CLEBC volunteer Anjili Bahadoorsingh of Terra Law. Anjili practices in the areas of real estate finance, commercial lending, and secured transactions, and is one of the authors of our BC Personal Property Security Act Practice Manual (PPSA Practice Manual).
How did you first get involved with PPSA Practice Manual?
I inherited the Chattel Leases chapter from a partner at my first law firm. At the time, I only had a vague idea of what chattel leases were, and thought that this would be great opportunity to learn not only about that area of law, but also about the Personal Property Security Act (PPSA) world in general.
How has your experience volunteering with CLEBC been?
In addition to writing for PPSA Practice Manual, I have also been a faculty member for a couple of CLEBC courses. I have found CLEBC to be nothing short of a world-class organization. It is indispensable, well-organized, and well-managed; the materials and courses which it produces are top-notch. We are fortunate to have such an invaluable resource at our fingertips. I strongly encourage all lawyers to volunteer with CLEBC at some point during their careers.
You have spoken and written extensively on secured transactions. What interests you most about the law of secured transactions?
This practice area rears its head in almost all aspects of commercial life – from the simplest debtor/creditor transactions, to multi-jurisdictional/multi-party/multi-million dollar deals. On occasion, an in-depth analysis of certain PPSA issues is required, which presents an opportunity to tackle a new challenge. While the concept of “security” is not new, the PPSA regime is relatively new in Canada. When I was called to the bar, our BC PPSA was only a couple of years old, so I learned all about it at the same time as experienced practitioners – we were learning together. Finally, as our commercial world evolves, the law has to evolve as well, so constant learning is a must. The Securities Transfer Act, which specifically incorporated the world of financial assets into the PPSA in 2007, is a case in point.
How did you develop a practice in real estate finance, commercial lending, and secured transactions?
I fell into this area of law quite by accident (my articling office was in between the banking partner and his associate – I never took Secured Transactions in law school!). Early in my career, I got involved not only with CLEBC, but also with the Law Society of BC as a guest PLTC instructor on PPSA, and with Canadian Bar Association BC Branch (CBABC). I joined the CBABC Banking Law Subsection executive and became subsection Chair by my 4th year. Attending meetings, conferences, and teaching not only enhances your knowledge, but also exposes you to other lawyers, as well as potential clients. I also joined organizations to expand my network, and made myself constantly available for lunches, dinners, receptions, client golf tournaments, etc. In other words, I really “put in the time” – my career was priority #1.
What are the rewards and challenges of your practice?
Being highly specialized, the law of secured transactions is intellectually stimulating. My favourite part of practice is seeing all of the real estate developments which I’ve worked on for the past 20+ years and saying, “I worked on that!” At this stage in my career, I am also immensely enjoy reconnecting with UBC Commerce classmates from undergrad, many of whom have developed successful careers in the real estate industry, and many of whom are now clients. In terms of challenges, like in many areas of law, dealing with unpredictability, urgency, short deal deadlines, and impatient clients is a constant challenge.
What advice would you give to new lawyers interested in real estate finance, commercial lending, or secured transactions?
- Get Involved – Join law and industry-related organizations to make your face and name known. Even better, join the executives of these organizations, and speak and write for them whenever you can.
- Enhance Your Knowledge – Take Banking/PPSA courses offered by CLEBC and join the CBABC Banking Law subsection. I started off as Secretary for the latter group, at a time when my knowledge of the PPSA was extremely limited. By recording minutes, I was forced to read cases or research the areas of law discussed during the meetings in order to compose an intelligent set of minutes!
- “Pay Your Dues” – It’s all part of reaping benefits later on in your career. Ploughing through tough times, dealing with rough personalities, and foregoing personal/leisure/family time is simply a necessity, which does get better over time.
In addition to practising law, we understand that you also own a children’s clothing company. Any tips for other lawyers looking to balance legal practice with also owning a business?
I have always had a side-gig, long before the advent of the gig economy! For as long as I can remember, I have always wanted to own my own business. I started a gift basket business right after undergrad, when that industry was still in its infancy. My impetus for starting was being highly impressed with a beautiful basket I received myself. The next day, I was poring through the Yellow Pages, starting a business! I started my current children’s clothing company during my first maternity leave. Initially, I imported beautiful, unique batik and tie-dye baby clothing from Trinidad. We now manufacture an exquisite down-filled baby sleepsack, which was included in a gift bag for Hollywood actresses. In order to keep on top of your practice and your business, you will likely give up a lot of sleep, but if both keep you passionate, motivated, and driven, you will find the time to incorporate all of your varied interests.
Other than law, what are you passionate about?
Gosh! Where do I start? Entrepreneurship and small business have always been passions of mine. I also love anything to do with Italy! I had been dreaming of learning Italian since my first trip to Italy in 1990, and it was the realization when I visited again last year that 26 years had passed, which encouraged me to “Just do it!” I completed 3.5 Italian language courses at the Italian Cultural Centre last year. Other interests include: European/English history, travelling, reading, being outdoors, and spending time with my two daughters. Finally, as a proud Trinidadian, I am passionate about my homeland!