English, French, Spanish
Compliance and governance
Dispute Resolution and litigation management
M&A and Divestitures
Who she is
“You can have the best legal strategy in your head, but if you don’t tell the right people about it, nothing is going to come of it,” says Patricia Osoko. “It really comes to figuring out who needs to know what, and then to help those people understand the risks and get on board.”
A stellar communicator, Patricia has a natural ability to put a human face on challenges with no easy answers. “What I really love about the job is working as part of the team with business development and operations people to move a business project forward,” she says.
Trained as a corporate and commercial lawyer, Patricia has honed her skills in the highly regulated energy industry, handling cross-border transactions, entity compliance and corporate governance.
She’s also passionate about designing creative ways to promote a business culture of ethics and integrity. Regardless of the industry, companies in today’s environment need to be proactive about their compliance programs to thrive, she says. Still, it takes an open company culture to succeed at it, which on a human level requires a deft touch.
In her spare time, Patricia, who is an accomplished musician, plays the violin and viola. She also an outdoor enthusiast who enjoys traveling the world, skiing, biking and paddling.
How she got here
After pursuing a science degree, Patricia completed her law degree in 1991 at the University of Victoria. She started out in private practice in Vancouver before joining the civil litigation department of the federal Department of Justice. She then founded and ran a music school, before returning to the law as an in-house legal advisor for a private equity firm. In 2009, she took up the position of Corporate Secretary at BC Assessment. Then in 2011, she joined the ATCO Group, an Alberta-based conglomerate with businesses in gas transmission and distribution, electricity generation, transmission and distribution, and modular structures and support services. At ATCO, Patricia managed governance of more than 100 subsidiary and joint venture companies. She later oversaw legal compliance for ATCO’s global operations, then moved to Mexico City as legal director to support all facets of ATCO Mexico’s business. In 2020, she joined Simplex Legal as Special Advisor.
Interview with Patricia Osoko
You recently oversaw legal compliance in Mexico for a multinational energy company. What are the challenges today for businesses operating in a global environment?
Globally, there is a lot of regulatory uncertainty. So, one of the challenges has been to stay on top of the legal changes, and to provide strategic advice to management at a time when things are really fluid. Depending on the country, there can be pollical unrest or labour unrest. And it’s not that different at home. For one, we’re seeing the digital disruption that is forcing traditional businesses to change the way they operate. Just look at the energy sector where we now have prosumers who not only want to generate their own energy through renewable means – solar mostly – and be connected to the grid, so they have the backup. But they also want to sell the excess energy they generate. That changes your entire market. As a lawyer, my job is to stay ahead of things to figure out how regulations work, and ensure solutions that benefit both consumers and companies.
What other disruptive trends are businesses having to contend with?
Adapting to changing customer needs. Again, take the energy sector. The most important thing for consumers used to be grid stability. Now there’s this sentiment where people want to know where their energy is coming from, and they want to know what percentage is clean and what percentage is harmful to the environment. It’s not that different from consumer behaviour in the retail sector – consumers want to know where goods are coming from and how they’re produced. So, companies want to adopt socially responsible supply chain practices and, as lawyers, we’re there to develop a legal framework for responsible and sustainable supply chains.
You've also worked a lot in recent years on diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives. How do you see that area evolving?
The truth is, DEI is bigger than reporting on how many of your board members are women. We need to develop plans to increase opportunities for women at the senior, executive and board levels. Racial diversity is coming into the picture, as it should. But that’s just the start. A good manager needs to understand people’s different communication styles and appreciate there are people in a meeting who aren’t comfortable speaking up. So how do you create an environment where they will express their diverse views? How do you tone down your extroverts and promote your introverts? We’re also going to see a fascinating change in work teams post-COVID. If, as a manager, I give my team members the option of working at home or at the office, how do I treat them equally when it comes to issues like promotions or giving them interesting assignments? Our natural instinct is to favour the people we see daily in the office. So if you do not see half your workforce in the office, you’re going to have to take special care to make sure that the ones working at home are included. And that will probably disproportionately affect women, because they are generally the lower wage earners and have the child-care and other family responsibilities. We have to be aware those realities and our own biases, and see beyond them to build a culture of inclusion.
What are a few examples of activities, hobbies you enjoy participating in?
I enjoy traveling, and especially visiting our house in the south of France, where I like to hike and mountain bike and enjoy the culture (mostly the wine and food!).
I am a semi pro violinist and violist and enjoy playing chamber music and in orchestras. I am currently studying tango music.
Write about a personal or professional achievement you are proud of.
There are a few things I am proud of from my time at ATCO: the introduction of a digitally managed Code of Ethics and policy suite; initiation of diversity initiatives, including International Women’s Day celebrations; and learning Spanish and civil law to enable me to lead the legal team in Mexico.
Also, for the last couple of years I have been a regular contributor to the CCCA magazine. Learning to express myself publicly has been a big accomplishment.
Why did you decide to join us at Simplex?
I think the traditional legal practice model is broken, putting excellent service beyond the reach of start-up and small companies. I wanted to service those clients, while learning best practices in legal tech implementation.
What is it about Simplex's model do you believe is most attractive and beneficial to our clients?
I think clients are attracted to Simplex’s rates and the ability to predict legal spend due to the payment options we provide. I think they stay with Simplex because of the excellent service provided by our team.