We talked to Tara Vasdani, the first Canadian lawyer to serve a Statement of Claim using Instagram, a writer for Canadian Lawyer and The Lawyer’s Daily, and founder of Remote Law Canada
Austin’s vibrant tech community keeps attracting not only new startups but also great events: the largest remote team management conference takes place here in April 2020. Austin will become the point of attraction for about 30 Founders, Executives and managers of leading remote and distributed companies ready to share their insights about the future of work. In preparation for this event Running Remote together with their partner, Soshace presents a series of interviews with speakers.
Tara Vasdani graduated from the University of Ottawa, Canada with two law degrees, which she earned entirely in French. Prior to running and owning her own law firm, she had worked at four different major law firms in Canada. During the first two years of her practice, she was nominated twice for Canadian Lawyer’s Top 25 Most Influential Lawyers and was the first Canadian lawyer to serve a Statement of Claim using the popular social media app, Instagram. Tara was also featured in Forbes 2019 and appeared in the Law Times, on CBC, Droit-Inc., The Lawyer’s Daily, and BizChix. In April 2020, Tara will give a talk at Running Remote, the largest remote work event, in Austin, Texas. Soshace has been helping RR in conducting the interviews with the prominent speakers.
Hello Tara, and welcome to the interview with Running Remote! Please, share your story. How did you decide to pursue a career in law?
I’m thrilled to be here. Fortune would have it that the “kick start” to my legal journey was actually just a passion for practicing law — but how quickly that all changed! I studied Common Law and Civil Law at the University of Ottawa, in Ottawa, Canada, and entirely in French. Before long, I realized that my desire to study law went much deeper than just trying to earn a decent living — by challenging myself through earning two French law degrees, as opposed to just one — I later became passionate about setting legal precedents, being a strong advocate for the use of legal technology, and eventually, joining the remote work movement.
I have always been interested in helping others, but my motive soon became transforming the legal industry to make it easier to help others — which I have thankfully been able to do, both by advocating for remote work arrangements and assisting my clients as efficiently as possible, using technology — and of course by challenging the status quo, through setting legal precedents.
Please, share your previous work experience culminating in your current position being the Principal Lawyer at Remote Law Canada.
Prior to running and owning my own law firm, I worked at four different major law firms in Canada. First, I interned, summered, and articled at the largest national corporate law firm in our country — Borden Ladner Gervais. My time at BLG was excellent but I missed home, and I wanted to specialize — so very quickly, I ended up working at three different firms in Toronto, practicing subrogation, employment law, and general civil litigation.
When do you think you were ready to become your own boss?
Before long, I realized that by jumping from firm to firm in less than two years, and consistently engaging in media opportunities, business opportunities, and client development — all on my own, I was ready to open up my own shop. I decided to do so to permit myself to live the life that I always wanted — and that includes spending great time with my family, friends, and my partner. But moreover, by opening up shop I was able to advocate for the things that mattered to me the most — and that’s always been all of those things listed previously, but also my client relationships, being a game-changer in the legal industry, and definitely offering my insight to companies like, Running Remote!
You were the first Canadian lawyer to serve a Statement of Claim using the popular social media application, Instagram. How did you think social media helped you in your career?
This is a great question! Social media was pivotal in not only the creation of the Instagram story, having allowed me to locate a Defendant in a very 21st century way, but it also assisted in disseminating the story — particularly, by being Canadian Lawyer’s most viewed story of 2018. Not bad for my first year of practicing law!
Were there any other instances when you leveraged the power of social media networks to advance an agenda or help other people?
I leverage social media power in my every day. I have come to know many lawyers, public bodies, professionals and individuals all through social media. LinkedIn is particularly helpful in this regard, as its sharing features are excellent — I have managed to build a network of over 1,100 connections, with a consistent 100+ pending (I will get to each of you!), and only precisely a quarter of that being individuals I have actually met in real life. It’s remarkable.
What awards have you received through the years? Where have you or your business been prominently featured?
I have been extremely fortunate to have been nominated twice, in both of my years of practice, for Canadian Lawyer’s Top 25 Most Influential Lawyers. I was featured in Forbes in 2019 in respect of the legality of remote work arrangements, and have appeared in the Law Times, on CBC, Droit-Inc., The Lawyer’s Daily, and very recently — a podcast for BizChix. My accolades throughout the years have been absolutely phenomenal.
What’s the biggest challenge you face being your own boss? Are you working remotely or do you have an office?
My biggest challenge as my own boss is one that I predicted a very long time ago — funny enough, I never saw this coming, but it is something that I always told my partner I would hate, if I did! At present, the greatest challenge seems to be knowing when to slow down. Although having your own practice seems like the most efficient and “work-life balance positive” thing to do, it also involves always being on top of your clients, work, and of course — administrative matters. I have been fortunate enough to have begun a thriving practice, from the get-go, and so much so that I am consistently behind on emails — but recalling that you are doing this because you are empowered and now have the ability to live your own life, is a great comfort.
Today, I maintain a professional office on Bay Street, with access to virtual offices across the city, and globe. The advantage of having my professional office downtown, with virtual offices across the city, is that each day my schedule changes — and my clients love it! For example, last week was filled with meetings, talks, and interviews — both in and out of Toronto. So, when I woke up this morning, in Mississauga in fact, the first thing that I told myself was — you’re going to work from home today!
Why did you choose remote work as the center of your law practice?
It’s avant-garde. It’s 2019. It’s the future of work.
And for clients…. It’s the future of everyday life.
You’re also a writer. Where do you write and what do you write about? Please, provide a few links to your recent publications.
I love to write, so I truly appreciate the question! Lately, much of my writing has centered around advancements in legal technology: robot mediators, AI judges, virtual meeting platforms, etc. However, I also write often on remote work developments, particularly from a legal perspective.
I write for Canadian Lawyer, The Lawyer’s Daily, and my own blog.
Here are some recent publications, I am particularly fond of:
Legal Issues Affecting Digital Nomads: https://www.canadianlawyermag.com/news/opinion/legal-issues-affecting-digital-nomads/275845
AI Legal Research Tools save Money, Time, and Judge’s Enmity: https://www.canadianlawyermag.com/news/opinion/ai-legal-research-tools-save-money-time-and-judges-emnity/275988
Emoji’s are law, says US Justice System: https://www.remotelawcanada.com/post/emojis-are-law-says-u-s-justice-system
Costa Rica Welcomes Work From Home Bill: https://www.remotelawcanada.com/post/welcoming-costa-rica-s-work-from-home-bill
From Estonian A.I. Judges to Robot Mediators in Canada, U.K.: https://www.thelawyersdaily.ca/articles/12997/from-estonian-ai-judges-to-robot-mediators-in-canada-u-k-?category=analysis
What public talks have you given in recent years? Do you have any favorite talk? What was it about?
In the last few years I have had the good fortune of speaking at the Institute of Law Clerks of Ontario’s Advanced Litigation Continuing Legal Education seminar, as well as their Annual Litigation Conference in Quebec, Canada. Both talks were in respect of Google, Artificial Intelligence, and Litigation.
I have also had the opportunity to speak to remote work gurus from across the world at Remote-How Inc.’s Future Remote Summit, and on Shelli Warren’s podcast, BizChix!
Early next year, I will be speaking at Running Remote’s Conference in Austin, TX. I am sure that that will be my favorite one!!
In your opinion, what’s the biggest challenge companies face while going remote?
The biggest challenge I have seen companies face while going remote stems almost always from not having the proper remote employment agreement, health and safety checklists, and remote work policies in place. Specifically, when failing to properly outline the scope and functionality of the agreement, remote work companies either see a decrease in staff due to unpredicted problems with retention, or employee non-engagement. By defining the scope of the agreement from the get-go, including having an employee input their own work hours, break times, how and when the employee will report to the head office, how they will ensure that their projects adhere to deadlines and the details surrounding the projects, etc., a remote company is protected from all of these pitfalls.
What do companies need to pay attention to while transitioning to remote work arrangements with their employees in terms of the law?
Remote work companies should ensure that their remote work policies and remote employment agreements properly meet all of their obligations under provincial/state/municipal law, including tax and insurance obligations. Thereafter, it’s best to have a lawyer draft and review the agreements and policies, and of course, ensure that the employee provides as much input as possible. This protects an employer when there is a breach of the agreement and/or policy, as the employer is able to rely on a fairly detailed (and employee-collaborated) agreement.
Who are the people who have influenced you and your work? Do you have any mentors or role models?
The biggest influencer of my work over the last few years, and when I have seen my successes, is my partner. Having someone by my side, consistently encouraging me, while helping me grow, and maintain a very happy lifestyle :) is the best!
In respect of mentors, the senior lawyers I worked for at Borden Ladner Gervais LLP had a very positive impact on my practice. From the days of a young law student, to now, I was able to quickly learn the values and principles necessary to implement to ensure that I am always professional, efficient and kind-hearted.
Do you have any hobbies? What are they?
Absolutely! Aside from trying to do at least one Pilates class a day (and almost being an instructor, at that!), I am a lover of nature and my partner and I find any which way we can to make it outdoors. Be it hikes, cottage trips, or simply hanging out on the balcony — we try our best, even in my “remote-heavy” lifestyle, to tear ourselves away from technology, and enjoy what truly is beautiful about today’s life.
Are you excited about the upcoming Running Remote conference? What are you going to talk about and what are your expectations from the event?
Beyond excited! The most exciting thing for me is the ability to share, from a legal perspective, my insight and recommendations to remote-first and remote-passionate companies across the globe. I will be speaking to the audience regarding remote employment agreements, successful remote work arrangements — from a legal perspective, insurance, benefits, and tax obligations. I am excited to assist companies at truly, “running remote”!
My expectations are that it will be an incredible opportunity to meet like-minded individuals and impact the global work landscape, going forward.
I am a copywriter at Soshace.com, a hiring platform for web developers: hire a developer or apply for a remote job. Soshace is a media partner of Running Remote, the World’s Largest Remote Work Event. If you have an interesting story to tell, please ping me on Twitter @ MaryVorontsov I would love to hear from you and share your story.