Aarondeep Bains, BA’11
Aarondeep Bains, BA’11 works as a Lawyer in Toronto at Aird & Berlis LLP. He describes learning from his mistakes and being able to teach others about his experience.
What ways do you demonstrate leadership?
I demonstrate leadership at work and on the various non-profit boards that I serve on by taking responsibility, ensuring that I teach anyone working with me and listening. This applies to my legal career as well as my role as the President of the South Asian Bar Association. I never shy away from the decisions that I have made and always acknowledge when I am wrong. It is impossible to always be right but it is important to understand when and why one was wrong and to learn from your mistakes. I also never let anyone working for me get too upset about their mistakes. In our fast paced work environment, we need to acknowledge errors but work to fix them immediately. Secondly, I always try to teach the junior lawyers working for me. When you work in a large law firm as a junior lawyer you are often asked to work on a discrete task in a larger file. Additionally, I try to teach junior lawyers that you do not need to be the loudest to win and that giving up on a particular legal point is not always a loss. Finally, I listen – to those around me and to myself. I try to ensure that I listen to the needs of the students, my colleagues, the partners and most importantly my own mind and body.
What lessons have you learned as a leader or from a leader you admire?
A senior partner that I work with at the firm, Tony Gioia, taught me some of the most important lessons of leadership in the legal field – be the best that you can be at your job and always help to uplift your team. Excellence will speak for itself over time in one’s career. At the same time, it is important to provide positive feedback to your colleagues and juniors to help make them more confident and improve the team as a whole.
What does leadership mean to you?
Striving to achieve the best that one can, respecting and uplifting those around you and being self-aware. The first point is captures best by Robert Browning in the following lines:
“Ah, but a man's reach should exceed his grasp,
Or what's a heaven for?”
What do you think were some of the key skills you gained from your time at UBC?
At UBC I learned how to manage my time, integrate into new places and to love learning. First, I initially traveled on the Skytrain and then the 99 B line to get to and from campus every day. This took up nearly 3-4 hours of my day and meant that I had to be very diligent with my time and managing the needs of multiple classes. Coming to UBC was also my first foray out of my community in Surrey. I grew up in a neighbourhood where my elementary school was in the same block that I lived in and my high school was just a short walk away. UBC taught me how to integrate into residence and make new friends. Finally, I learned to love learning. I was (and continue to be) mesmerized by the countless courses and areas of study that exist at UBC. I cannot wait to retire and get back to school.
Tell us about your role. What are your main responsibilities? Who do you work with?
Primarily, I am a corporate finance lawyer at Aird & Berlis. However, I am also the President of the South Asian Bar Association (one of the largest legal diversity organization in Canada) and a board member on several committees and non-profits across the City of Toronto.
My legal role primarily involves managing debt and equity financing transactions (loans and share investments) and the buying and selling of businesses. My day involves drafting legal documents, reading documents drafted by other parties, negotiating with lawyers and clients and generally providing strategic advice to our clients to help their businesses advance beyond current issues and/or grow.
In my role on non-profit boards and with SABA, I am often overseeing the organization’s various committees, and events and working with our executive and board to address issues that affect South Asian lawyers. This can often involve meeting with the government and other stakeholders to try and help ensure that diversity is on the agenda and issues affecting diverse lawyers are being discussed and addressed.
What attracted you to this organization? Did you expect to be in this type of role/organization upon graduation?
The people at Aird & Berlis attracted me to the firm – they are genuine, care about their work and colleagues and respect each other. I did not anticipate being in the role that I am in now when I graduated. I had always thought that I would be a barrister and perhaps an international trade lawyers. However, I found that my business mind and skills took me closer and closer to the current solicitor practice that I now have.
What excites you about this role/organization?
I enjoy the fast pace work environment and the diversity of files. I can be working on the sale of a mattress cover manufacturer one Monday, a loan to a new tech company on Tuesday and the acquisition of a North American automotive business on Thursday and Friday.
Generally, what is your best piece of career advice?
Be aware of your mind and body and ensure that your work is part of your life and does not become your life. You were born to find happiness, not more billable hours.
Where do you see your field going in the next 5-10 years?
I think that more and more technology will arise that makes the practice of law easier and hopefully less costly. At the same time, I think that there will be a point where lawyers will need to address the issues that the technologies of the past decade have brought. E-mail and access to information means that clients expect to be served 24 hours a day and seven days a week. This is not feasible in the long term and lawyers will need to find ways to give clients the services that they deserve without sacrificing their own lives.