This month’s spotlight shines on Lucy Schilling of Cozen O’Connor.
How did you first get involved with CLEBC?
My first involvement with CLEBC was in 2010 for a course geared towards securities paralegals and junior securities lawyers. The course was about initial public offerings and I presented on how to close an IPO as well as tips and tricks to coordinating a smooth closing. I was hesitant at first because I was extremely nervous about public speaking (especially in front of my peers in the profession), but I knew I needed to step outside my comfort zone and I am so glad I did!
What are you currently working on (or have most recently worked on) with CLEBC?
I chair the Securities Fundamentals course for CLEBC, which focuses on providing foundational legal knowledge and skills, with lots of practical tips and tricks sprinkled throughout.
Our next course is on November 30, 2022, and will be a step-by-step guide on plans of arrangement, which is one of the most commonly used transaction structures in the mergers and acquisitions space for public companies. We have an amazing lineup of speakers on the faculty for this course and I hope it will be a great resource for junior lawyers, paralegals, and any others interested in this type of transactional work.
What inspired you to practice in securities and corporate law?
I always thought I was going to become a litigator and ended up practicing securities and corporate law almost by accident. Throughout law school, I took part in the criminal clinic and worked for the Law Students Legal Advice Program (LSLAP) to get as much trial experience as I could. I worked two summers at LSAP and ran the program as Operations Officer in my third year.
Things took an unexpected turn when I had the remarkable good fortune of securing summer and full articles at a securities boutique firm, working with their two litigators – my mentor and former Professional Responsibility course professor, Jerry Ziskrout, and the Honourable Kenneth W. Ball, who was called to the bench shortly after I started my full articles. I spent my articling year doing both litigation and securities work. By the end of my articles, I transitioned full-time into securities work and haven’t looked back.
What draws me to securities and corporate law is the transactional work and helping clients to build their businesses and achieve their goals. I love closing deals because I get to work collaboratively with the client as well as opposing counsel and there’s an incredible sense of accomplishment once the deal is completed and the parties are happy with the result.
What career path would you have chosen if you weren’t working in law?
I probably would have pursued a career in teaching. I did my undergrad degree in English literature, so I think I could make a pretty good English Lit professor!
What’s the most valuable piece of advice you have received?
Growing up, my mom would always tell me to take advantage of opportunities that come my way without worrying if there would be any tangible payoff in the end because, regardless of whether anything comes of it, I will at least have learned something from the experience that money cannot buy.
There were more than a few times in my career (and life in general) where, although my first instinct was to say no to a particular opportunity or task because it would have been easier to walk away, I ultimately said yes because of her voice in my head telling me to take a chance. Each time that happens, I have without fail learned something from that experience that money cannot buy.
Apart from teaching for CLEBC, you are quite active in the legal profession. What motivates you to give back to the profession?
I have had the honour of working with some superstar sponsors (including Brian Higgins, my supervising lawyer at LSLAP, and Corey Dean, my managing partner at DuMoulin Black, both of whom are unfortunately no longer with us) who not only mentored me but actually went out of their way to open career doors for me. Giving back to the profession is one of the small ways I try to repay their generosity and honour their legacy. It’s also a way of paying it forward as I hope someday others will do the same for my children.
Other than law, what are you passionate about?
I serve on the Board of Directors of Dress for Success Vancouver (DSFV). This charity empowers women to achieve financial independence by giving them the resources needed to gain pre-employment, professional development, and career advancement skills as well as the confidence to pursue their career goals.
I came to Canada when I was 2 years old with my parents, who collectively had US$10 in their pockets, as refugees from Vietnam. What we have today was made possible through the kindness of strangers during that tumultuous time and my family was able to achieve financial independence in large part because of organizations such as DSFV that help people develop the skills they need to stand on their own two feet.
It’s the old adage, “Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.” I choose to devote my time and energy to DSFV because I want to “teach women to fish”.