From private practice to provincial and then municipal government, Doug Brown has not shied away from change in his long legal career.
What is the secret to successfully following your own unique career path? Well, for Doug, it was a combination of organization, remaining calm under stress, approaching situations with logical solutions, as well as learning to listen to others. Although almost cliche at this point, arguably the best advice that Doug can share is the importance of taking time for yourself to avoid the dreaded burnout. For some lawyers, their “badge of honour” is the amount of billed hours they rack up. Doug’s greatest accomplishment is not falling victim to the unhealthy expectations the profession tried to impose on him and instead, going his own way.
After graduating from the University of Manitoba
’s law school, Doug continued his legal journey by entering private practice, which he continued to work in for seven years. While Doug ultimately decided he wanted to move on from private practice, he believes that “every step is a learning experience” and that “although there were aspects of private practice that [he] decided were not for [him], the experience was invaluable.”
When the time was right for him,
Doug made the transition from private practice into a legal in-house position with the government as part of the Manitoba Securities Commission
. Doug enjoyed this stop on his career path for 20 years and described it as “a great experience at a time where the financial industry was changing”. Doug started out as Assistant Counsel with the Commission and within his time there, worked his way up to the position of Director, General Counsel, and Secretary to the Commission. Not one to deny himself the opportunity to experience new things, at the end of his 20-year tenure, Doug switched things up and took on the role of Public Guardian and Trustee of Manitoba
for five years.
Maybe last, but surely not least, Doug’s career took another turn as he took on the position of Director of Legal Services - City Solicitor for the City of Winnipeg
. Working with the City, Doug loves the variety that each day brings as he works to find innovative solutions to legal issues. Doug runs a legal department of about 18 lawyers and as a team, they work together to “problem solve issues, interact with outside law firms, work as part of the senior administration team at the city, and work with the Mayor and Councillors.” Not only does Doug work with talented legal practitioners with different backgrounds, but his work also involves resolving issues in essentially all areas of law including contracts, taxes, litigation, and policy drafting.
As students and practicing lawyers navigate their way through the legal profession, Doug offers some words of encouragement, “Be true to what you want to be, if that means you don’t use your legal degree and skills for a legal job, that is okay.” Doug also emphasizes that “every opportunity will provide you with skills which will help lead you to that next step.”
Although easier said than done, don’t be afraid to follow our own desired path and not fall victim to what you believe is “expected” of you.
While students all too often find themselves stuck in the mindset that they should retire at the same firm they article with, Doug’s story shows that the experience gained through change in your legal career can ultimately contribute to a uniquely rewarding career in the long run.