Parna: Hi, I'm Parna Sabet-Stephenson, a partner at Gowling WLG, a technology lawyer and the leader of the FinTech practice at the firm.
[Why technology law?]
Parna: I often get asked why I became a technology lawyer. I'm not from a generation that grew up with technology my study tools were pen and paper, chalk to blackboard but by the time I was in university it was quite clear that technology was revolutionizing the way we lived, studied, worked, and by the time I started my legal career, it was a dot-com era. Where again, it was quite evident that the internet was becoming a foundational technology and there was no shortage of legal issues. So I knew even back then that a career in technology law would mean eternally dealing with cutting-edge legal issues, and it turned out to be one of the best decisions I've ever made. It has been such a privilege for over two decades now, helping clients whether on their digital transformation journey or helping them offer products and services that allow others on this journey.
Parna: Why did I decide to focus on FinTech? Well, in my first year of practice I got exposed to clients in the financial services industry and quickly realized that the industry relied, even back then, quite heavily on technology and outsourced services so it was really a natural fit for me but back then, the expertise had no name. It was only a decade later that FinTech was actually coined as a term to describe their interception of financial services and technology. Over the course of my career I've seen, and continue to see, so many business new business models leveraging technology or relying on technology and the impact of technology on how we pay, send money, and vast borrow and I remember the excitement of the launch of the first few digital banks and how exciting it was to advise them as to how to meet the regulatory requirement in this new world. The financial services industry is a vibrant industry where innovation is really the name of the game but it's also a field where it takes great collaboration among business leaders and legal advisors in order to move it forward, so to be part of those discussions that ultimately improve the way Canadian's access financial services and products has been incredible.
[What do you think propels you forward?]
What propels me forward, it's all about the people our clients, and our team. We are incredibly lucky to be working with an amazing group of clients who entrust us with their matters but I'm also a firm believer that success is a team sport and we have an incredible team I'm fortunate to work with a group of talented individuals who are passionate about the work we do but are also incredibly entrepreneurial and care deeply about helping our clients achieve their business objective.
[What is it about people that makes the difference?]
What is it about people that makes the difference? Well you know that on all of our teams but throughout the years I've noticed that teams across the street at various law firms have fewer young women that I really hope to see they didn't seem that attracted to the field or at least a private practice setting and perhaps there were barriers whether they were self-imposed or imposed by others that prevented either their entry to the field or their continued desire to stay in the field. That was an issue that was very dear to me and I wanted to see greater representation of women and other equity deserving groups in the field. Well today I'm very fortunate to be working with an incredibly diverse team they bring a diversity of thought and a fresh perspective to every matter and working with them helps me grow both professionally and personally and for that I'm eternally grateful.