Konata Lake on the challenges and rewards of being a corporate lawyer

October 27, 2020

Partner Konata Lake spoke with Canadian Lawyer about his career journey and offered insight into how he remains authentic while balancing work and family commitments.

In the interview, Konata—who helps clients with high-profile M&A at Torys—reflected on his work ethic and what drives him to succeed in his role.

“I'm from a single-parent household [and an] immigrant kid [who] grew up in Jane and Finch in west-end Toronto. I was so excited to be in that world that the work I was doing, I don't think I ever thought of it as grunt work,” Konata told Canadian Lawyer.

“One person said to me once, ‘where the rest of us with a new deal see a minefield, you see candy.’”

After completing a joint JD/MBA degree at Osgoode Hall Law School, Konata was faced with a decision on what career path to take, he always had an interest in public policy and government but decided to opt for a corporate law firm position in New York City. He eventually found his way back to Toronto through a cross-border position at Torys. This role allowed him to spend time with his mother who was suffering from cancer and his soon to be wife—who were both living in Toronto.

“The goal was to come back to Toronto and Torys was fantastic in that I think they probably saw that I still loved New York but had family obligations that was taking me back and so they allowed me to work part out of New York, part [out] of Toronto,” he said.

In finding healthy balance in being both a corporate lawyer and father to a two-year old son, persistence to be authentic is a key part of the formula for Konata.

“I've accepted that there are times when I will miss [bed] time with my son. And there are times when I will miss a client event. I am very honest on emails that I can't make that meeting at 7:30 because I'm putting my son to bed [then]. I think for me it's being authentic in that this is a part of my experience and reality,” he said.

Konata’s authenticity is rooted in principles of inclusivity and the importance of an organization’s culture, which he comments on throughout the article. Actively involved in the student recruitment process at the firm, Konata calls to attention the many dimensions of culture which play a role in cultivating a positive, inclusive culture.

“[Senior leaders need to take] the time to think through hiring practices, promotion practices, sponsorship within the organization like and really think through ‘What is the culture of a firm or company and how do we make that culture more inclusive?’ That probably takes some soul searching,” he said.

To hear more career insight from Konata, register for the Canadian Lawyer Young Lawyers Summit on November 24, where he will be speaking.

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