Today's profile features lawyer, trademark agent, and entrepreneur Cynthia Mason. I love how Cynthia has created a practice and business that reflects her values. And she has a great story on why she went to law school!
1. Tell me a little about your practice or business.
I have focused my law practice on helping businesses protect their brands. I started my career at a large Bay Street firm, and for the last 6-years, I have been protecting brands through my own law firm, Mason Professional Corporation. Earlier this year, I launched a new business under the name Markably. It’s an online provider of trademark registrations and brand monitoring and enforcement services.
2. Why did you go to law school?
I certainly never had any burning desire to be a lawyer!
I had finished my undergraduate degree in biology, and I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do with my life. This may sound totally flaky, but my dilemma really was solved in one evening at a Halifax restaurant. I opened a fortune cookie that said, “You would make a good lawyer.” I thought there could be something to that, I am a problem solver at heart, and I love interacting with people (and, of course, cookies never lie). So, I applied to law school and never looked back. I still have that fortune framed in my office.
3. How did you get to where you are today? Design? Chance? Both?
I think I’m where I am today as a result of a lot of hard work mixed with a little bit of luck. The lucky aspect of my career came from working with an amazing mentor straight out of articling. He taught me many things about selflessness and client service. But I also worked really hard to build on those early lessons.
I think I have reached where I am today by constantly reflecting upon and improving myself, my services and my business organization. I’m not a person who can walk through life without a clear plan.
I really don’t think success happens by chance, and anyone who thinks that it does is seriously selling themselves short!
4. What is your most significant achievement? What are you proud of?
I’m really proud of the fact that I have a profitable business that I love, and I have the flexibility to be present for my family when they need me. After spending more than a decade at Bay Street law firms, I never imagined it would be possible to have a rewarding legal career and still be able to prioritize my family every day.
Outside of that, I am pretty darn proud of the fact that I have built legal technology and brought it to market. I took a process that I have refined over the course of my career (registering trademarks), and I’ve systematized and simplified it so that anyone can register a trademark. I’ve learned a lot of new skills in the development of this technology, and I’m excited to learn more about digital marketing, pitching to investors and expanding to other countries.
5. What are some key challenges, and more importantly, opportunities for women in law?
I think raising children and managing clients will always be a challenge for women in law. Regardless of how helpful and involved your spouse or partner is in family life, I think a lot of women want to be the primary caregiver in their families. But they also want to have a fulfilling legal career, and these two things are frequently at odds.
I think the opportunity here is that women will lead the way in re-defining what it means to have a successful law practice. When I began my career, success was defined by the number of hours you billed and how much money you drew. I can already see it’s evolving, and I think women are the main drivers behind it. Success is really about how many people you can impact in the amount of time you choose to give.
6. What advice would you give a woman starting her legal career?
My advice is to be very clear with yourself about what are your personal values. It’s very difficult to be happy in a job, law firm or company that does not align with your values. I spent a big part of my legal career at a firm that did not share my values, and I tortured myself trying to model myself after their leadership. I regret not looking outside of my immediate surrounding for role models. They’re definitely out there, you just have to explore with an open mind!
Thank you Cynthia for participating in this series and congratulations on the success of Markably!
I started this blog series because I was tired of hearing about women leaving law and wanted to hear about women leading in law. The "Women Leading in Law" series focuses on good news stories and highlights amazing women succeeding in the legal profession. Each post includes the profiled lawyer's answers to six questions. Prepare to be inspired!
ICYMI - previous posts profiled the following amazing lawyers: Roots Gadhia, Evelyn Ackah, Carrisa Tanzola, Sarah Leamon, Robin Parker, Lorin MacDonald, Karen Yamamoto, Victoria Crewe-Nelson, Lynne Vicars, Kemi Oduwole, Anne-Marie McElroy, Jennifer Gold, Jordana Goldlist, Megan Keenberg, Yadesha Satheaswaran, France Mahon, Sarah Molyneaux, Richa Sandill, Vivene Salmon, Kim Whaley, Alisia Grenville, Frances Wood, Maggie Wente, Anita Szigeti, Neha Chugh, Christy Allen & Nancy Houle, Suzie Seo, Kim Gale, Alexi Wood, Melissa McBain, Erin Best, Gillian Hnatiw, Melanie Sharman Rowand, Meg Chinelo Egbunonu, Lisa Jean Helps, Nathalie Godbout Q.C., Laurie Livingstone, Renatta Austin, Janis Criger, May Cheng, Nicole Chrolavicius, Charlene Theodore, Dyanoosh Youssefi, Shannon Salter, Bindu Cudjoe, Elliot Spears, Jessica Prince, Anu K. Sandhu, Claire Hatcher, Esi Codjoe, Kate Dewhirst, Jennifer Taylor, Rebecca Durcan, Atrisha Lewis, Vandana Sood, Kathryn Manning, Kim Hawkins, Kyla Lee, and Eva Chan.
Erin C. Cowling is a freelance litigator, researcher & writer at Cowling Legal Freelance and President and Founder of FLEX LEGAL, a network of freelance lawyers.