DON SIHOTA is a partner at Clark Wilson LLP, BC’s law firm for business. His practice focuses on private company transactions, wealth preservation, business succession and M&A across a broad range of industries. In addition, Don advises on the incorporation of new businesses, regulatory compliance, and other commercial and corporate law issues. Don has been published in Business in Vancouver, Alberta Oil Magazine and various industry publications, and has been quoted by The Vancouver Sun, The Province and other media on the subjects of business succession planning and M&A. He is well-known in the business community for his seminar series on these topics. Don is also on the editorial board of the Due Diligence Deskbook, a CLEBC publication used by lawyers who practice in the M&A field.
How and why did you get involved with CLEBC?
I first became involved with CLEBC when, as a young associate, I took on a project to prepare and present a course on legal drafting. Over the years, I remained in friendly contact with the CLEBC, and when the Due Diligence Deskbook idea was put forward, I was one of the lawyers asked to participate. Today, I am an editor of the Deskbook, which is an award-winning resource for lawyers throughout BC.
What are you are currently working on (or have most recently worked on) with CLEBC?
Because the Deskbook requires updating every year, it is something that I am involved with on a continual basis. The latest addition to the latest edition was the recent Supreme Court of Canada ruling that good faith applies to all contracts. The Deskbook was just going to press when that case came out, so I included commentary on its possible effects and applications.
What has been your most memorable CLEBC experience?
My most memorable CLEBC experience is my first one: presenting that legal drafting course. I was a callow, but eager young associate that had to get up in front of well-experienced lawyers who, in my apprehensive mind, most likely already knew more about the subject than I did. However, I prepared well, and if I recall correctly, it went well too.
What’s the most valuable piece of advice you have received?
I’ve been the beneficiary of many pieces of helpful advice over the years. It’s very difficult to choose the most valuable, but my parents used to quote two memorable mantras, which have stuck with me my whole life: 1) if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all; and 2) honesty is the best policy.
What advice would you give newcomers who are interested in working in the legal profession?
The legal industry is a very small community. Your reputation is your most important asset. Be ever conscientious of the ethical rules that lawyers are required to follow. There are bigger issues at stake in the profession than just making a greater income or doing what your clients tell you. You are the gatekeeper for what is right—you have to be a model of that—and that is a huge responsibility.
What has been the most rewarding part of your career?
The most rewarding part of my work is helping clients build their business and succeed at their life’s work. I enjoy helping people achieve their business goals and objectives through legal strategies. I also enjoy working with and training young lawyers on how to do things efficiently and effectively.
Other than law, what are you passionate about?
I love to travel, and I am passionate about history. In fact, I go to different areas of the world to collect historical art—19th-century European, to be specific.
What are some of your favourite legal resources? (blogs, websites, etc.)
Google. Seriously. The Internet has changed the playing field, and there is an overwhelming amount of material online, so Google is my best friend. It allows me to find information as I need it, so I don’t have to be limited to singular blogs and/or websites.