August 17, 2012
Eileen McMahon is a partner and co-chair of the IP and Food and Drug Regulatory Practice at Torys. She has excelled both academically and in the workplace but still feels that being a woman working in law can be disadvantageous at times. She recently spoke to us on how she overcomes prejudice and the importance of effective diversity initiatives.
Eileen McMahon: I performed well in law school, articled at a general full-service law firm and was offered a position in the corporate/securities practice. However, I wanted to leverage my science background and specialize as a way to distinguish myself. So I went to another general full-service firm that had just started its own IP group. At the time, biotech drugs were just coming into their own (mid-eighties), so I have focused on patent and regulatory issues relating to food and drugs since the mid-eighties.
I had no preconceived notions of where I wanted to end up, and was willing to take risks and explore other opportunities – for example, becoming in-house counsel. I made sure that I regularly asked myself, "Am I still having a blast and spending 80% of my working hours loving what I’m doing?" If my answer to that question became "No," I would mull over it for a while (to ensure that I wasn’t just having a bad day or a bad week) and if I was feeling the same way after a few months, I knew it was time for a change. As a result, I’ve practised at a few different firms, large and small; I practised at a boutique IP firm and at Ernst & Young’s law firm in Canada before landing at Torys LLP.
Read the full interview here.