“I always wanted to get involved in the business, and that’s what drew me to becoming an in-house lawyer,” says Tricia Chrzanowski. “I love that dynamic and the interaction with people, and being able to provide practical advice as opposed to pure legal advice.”
Trained as a commercial lawyer, and armed with an entrepreneurial mindset, Tricia brings to the table a keen practical perspective in assessing a company’s risk exposure, as well as real-world business knowledge.
And it’s her approachable style, together with her willingness to go the extra mile, that makes Tricia so valuable to clients. You’ll catch her speaking to everyone from the foremen on a construction site to the senior executives. “For me, a good lawyer has to be a good listener, because you have to ask lots of questions and take in all the information from different parts of the business.”
Away from the office, Tricia hardly lets up, and always keeps up an active lifestyle in and around Kelowna —skiing, wake-surfing, boxing and playing golf. Or you find her in the kitchen with her family preparing recipes she’s discovered on one of their many travels.
After completing her law degree at the University of Alberta, Tricia went into private practice at a large firm in Edmonton as a commercial lawyer, before moving to Calgary in 2005. In 2007, she took up an in-house position at Nexen Energy. Over the next decade, she would serve in assistant general counsel roles in the energy sector. Then in 2018, she moved with her family to Kelowna, where she pursued her passion for fitness by opening three kickboxing gyms (she is also the head trainer!). After she helped get her business off the ground, Tricia made a return to the practice of law by joining the Simplex Legal team as Senior Legal Counsel.
There will probably be a greater importance placed on compliance and regulatory issues. What will also likely change is how we give legal advice. We can expect fewer face-to-face meetings, and there will be less talk around the water cooler. And that’s a challenge because it’s great when someone can just pop by your office and ask you a question. So it’ll be essential to build relationships in a different fashion, whether it’s by Zoom or by phone. Whatever it is, as lawyers, we’re going to have to figure out how to stay connected and available for people.
Every company has a different level of risk tolerance. But what’s clear is that there’s been a far greater focus on engagement and social responsibility. Companies are hesitant to push forward without more alignment and compliance with regulatory regimes. And for legal counsel, there are a lot of soft skills usually involved in addressing these issues. The challenge is understanding the risk profile of the company while looking at all of its components and how they interact. I also think that with the pandemic, we’re going to see a much greater understanding of the impact of social responsibility and community leadership.
Well, they’ll emerge with a better understanding of health and safety and workplace risk issues. There’s also more of a spotlight on industries that have gaps and shortcomings in how they treat their people. With social media is playing such a huge role on that front, companies need not only to be responsive but considered in their media presence.
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