When Karima Kanani found the career that combined her two greatest skill sets – social work and law, it was magic. Karima’s pre-law background is in social work and psychology, so when a Partner at one of her first law jobs told her they thought she would be good at corporate law, she laughed. But, with an open mind, Karima gave corporate a try and never looked back, eventually being named by Lexpert Magazine
as a “Leading Canadian Corporate Lawyer to Watch”.
Early in her career at Miller Thomson
, Karima had the opportunity to combine her background in health and social services with her corporate law practice. The niche was an entirely perfect fit for her. Karima has been working as corporate counsel exclusively in the health industry for over eighteen years and has a hard time calling it work. Karima provides services to hospitals, long term care homes, community care agencies, health teams, health industry associations and health care professionals. She is often heard saying that she has the privilege to practice with purpose and she loves giving back to the community and society as a whole every day.
When Karima is training someone new at work, she tells them to start reading the news. Health and social services touch everyone and everything and there will surely be a story involving the Firm’s work in the news each day. This has been particularly true during the Covid-19 pandemic. For over a year, the majority of Karima’s work was focused on things like covid assessment centres, overflow hospitals, ethical decision making and innovation like virtual healthcare. Karima often supports health service transformation and implementing new ideas and approaches to care. Her work is not always entirely legal and requires a real connection to the industry and continuous education.
During the pandemic, Karima’s appreciation and respect for the healthcare sector grew tenfold. Karima has had a demanding year, but her clients have worked themselves into exhaustion. Karima gives special thanks to the front line healthcare professionals and also the healthcare administrators, who have been working tirelessly behind the scenes to make sure resources are in place to meet community needs.
Karima has a unique perspective on work-life balance. Work is a part of life for most of us. For Karima, integrating work into her life helps her to live a more fulfilling personal life. She has two young children and if she needs to pick them up from school in the middle of the day, or watch a dance class at 4:00 PM, she does. She will likely have to get back to work after she says goodnight to them, but she is happy to do that if it allows for the quality time she needs. Karima’s day does not start with work and end with family. Her balance comes from giving up on the constant strive for balance and instead embracing both as integrated parts of her life.
Law students and lawyers often feel pressured to exude confidence and clarity. For many starting out, this often means presenting certainty about the type of law or kind of career they want. Karima has learned that it is important to have a vision, but even more important to be open to opportunities so you don’t miss out on a career that you don’t even know exists. This applies to the kind of firm you could work at as well. Working at a big firm, Karima hears a lot of misperceptions about them. Had she accepted those stereotypes before getting hired at Miller Thomson
, she likely would not have found her perfect career. Historically, big firms have had challenges with diversity, equity and inclusion of women and people of colour, but Karima has seen this change considerably over the years. Karima, for example, had both her kids during her time with Miller Thomson
and this in no way delayed or prevented her making Partner, in fact she was invited to the partnership while on maternity leave.
Karima truly believes there is a perfect job out there for everyone, but it likely will not fall in your lap. Don’t box yourself into what you imagine your legal career should be. Keeping an open mind, getting out there, meeting new people and finding out about the different industries and practice areas that exist will help you pinpoint the right path. Whatever you are passionate about, whether it be healthcare , technology, education, entertainment, sports or something entirely different, there is a way to combine it with law. If you mix your core set of legal skills with your interest area, you will find your passion and work won’t feel like work anymore. When Karima wakes up each morning, she feels a sense purpose – and you can too.