Senior Legal Counsel

Ottawa
G&A - Finance & Admin – Legal
Full-time

Rather than draw up a typical job posting for this role, I decided instead to publish an email exchange between Mary-Jane Richards (AGC Commercial) and me (Ashvini Pandian - Talent Acquisition at Shopify).

From: Ashvini Pandian
Date: 11 October 2017 at 08:38
Subject: Senior Legal Counsel for your team
To: Mary-Jane Richards

Hey MJ,

Thanks for chatting with me yesterday about our next legal hire. I've been thinking on it, and I wanted to highlight what stood out to me and also get your views on a few more things after our chat:

1) Both you and Joe described this person as someone who has experience doing sophisticated legal work, particularly at public companies or technology companies. What does sophisticated legal work mean to you?

2) The position will be located in Ottawa. Is there any possibility for this role to be based in Toronto?

3)  One thing I love about your team is that everyone truly enjoys what they do, almost fanatically so. They're great at what they do, and are always willing to get into the weeds, get their hands dirty, and help others. How did you build this out? What makes a good lawyer versus an outstanding lawyer in your mind? What does it take to work well with your team? And lastly, how do you define success as a Senior Legal Counsel at Shopify?

I look forward to hearing your thoughts on this, and finding the next kick-ass lawyer for your team!

Cheers,
Ash

From: Mary-Jane Richards
Date: 12 October 2017 at 13:57
Subject: Re: Senior Legal Counsel for your team
To: Ashvini Pandian

Hi Ash,

These are great questions! I’ve provided a bit more context below, as requested:

1) We’re looking for a curious, passionate and driven lawyer with deep technology experience. Lawyers on our team must be able to apply their knowledge and experience to novel scenarios to provide the best advice possible on legal issues that may never have been considered by anyone before, and we have to do it in a way that allows Shopify’s business to be agile and competitive. Our work here rarely (if ever!) involves a checklist of standard terms or managing template agreements. Shopify moves fast, and many of our products and services are the first of their kind.

We’re also looking for someone who is an effective and confident contract negotiator. This means that they have negotiated against parties that were either equally matched or stronger in terms of bargaining power, and have used business acumen, creativity and collegiality (both internally and in dealing with the other party) to negotiate terms that protect and propel their client’s business forward.

2) The position is at our head office in Ottawa, which is where many of the teams we work with are also based. We’ve found that this makes a huge difference in building relationships and trust with the teams we work with, and effectively embedding Legal into the business.

3) One of the things I’ve learned from working at Shopify is how important engagement is.  Engagement to me is when someone is genuinely passionate about what they do, and takes satisfaction out of mastering their craft. They can go toe to toe with the biggest companies in the world and push until we get the right result. They build trust with the internal business team, and show up for our clients both proactively, to ensure our business teams don’t run into problems, and reactively, when issues do come up.

To do well on our team, you need genuine curiosity, intellect and a sense of humor. You need to take the work seriously, but not take yourself too seriously. You need to get comfortable being uncomfortable, be able to work with many different types of personalities, really connect with people, and work as a team player. An outstanding lawyer has grit - they have persevered in the face of adversity, dealt with being challenged, and come through the other side stronger and with their optimism intact, ready to do it all over again.

A big indicator of whether someone will be successful on our team is when they demonstrate passion not just for their work, but also engagement in something outside of work. In short, it really doesn’t matter what a person’s interests are (sports, music, improv, etymology, whatever), but they really need to be interested in something, and willing to put in the hours and sacrifice to achieve their goals.

This is not a boring legal job. Candidly, being a member of a fast moving team doing cutting edge legal work is not easy, and it can be stressful at times. That said, it is also tremendously rewarding.  For those who love being a lawyer and find Shopify’s cause meaningful, this is a dream job. Every person on our team is committed to making commerce better for everyone, and it truly shows!

I'm really excited about this role - our next Senior Legal Counsel has an amazing opportunity to make a significant impact at Shopify and for our merchants, partners and stakeholders around the world.

Good luck with your search, I’m looking forward to meeting some awesome candidates!

MJ

From: Ashvini Pandian
Date: 12 October 2017 at 15:23
Subject: Re: Senior Legal Counsel for your team
To: Mary-Jane Richards

Thanks MJ - I’m looking forward to taking this one on!

Ash

If your experience comes close to what we’re looking for, consider applying. We know that diversity of thought makes for the best problem-solving and creative thinking, which is why we're dedicated to adding new perspectives to the team and encourage everyone to apply.