I usually don't write about anything other than privacy law, but I thought I'd make an exception to write a bit about this blog ...
This week I was honoured to be the receipient of the Outstanding Young Canadian Award in the category of Leadership, given by the Junior Chamber of Commerce International, Halifax Chapter. My firm, McInnes Cooper, has made a pretty big deal out of it (Congratulations to David Fraser, our Outstanding Young Canadian!). It was all very flattering and humbling at the same time.
The criteria for the award are:
Leadership: The legal, political, public and governmental sectors have leaders to use their skills to attain goals on a regular basis. They constantly make a difference in their organization and their leadership ability is a key to their success. The nominee for this award has proven leadership abilities.
I fit the "young" part, since I'm between 18 and 40. And it is unusual for a young associate in a large law firm to head a practice group, to develop a niche practice and to have a significant national client base.
I had to give a speech, along with the winners in the other categories, at the gala dinner on Thursday. The organizers suggested something inspiring. Well, I spend a lot of time talking to large groups about privacy law but it was pretty weird to contemplate standing up and talking about myself. But it did make me reflect upon what "got me here". And a significant part of that is this blog.
In building my practice in privacy law, I have spent a lot of time and effort networking, getting know people in the field, doing wider marketing and even making direct pitches to prospective clients, but the one thing that has raised my profile most of all and has resulted in engagements from far-flung clients is this blog. I know from the site's stats that it is read regularly by the Office of the Federal Privacy Commissioner, the provincial privacy commissioners, most major Canadian law firms, the big five Canadian banks, and Canada's equivalent of the Fortune 500.
This blog and its wide readership has led to an invitation to speak at the Canadian Bar Association's annual meeting in Winnipeg in 2004 (The Canadian Privacy Law Blog: Report from the CBA in Winnipeg). Everything I've written for the Canadian Privacy Law Review has started as a posting on this blog. The first times I met each of the British Columbia, Alberta and Ontario privacy commissioners, each of them knew me and commented on my blog. I've given dozens of media interviews for newspapers, radio and TV throughout Canada and into the U.S. on privacy issues and, almost without exception, the reporters and producers found me via the blog. I've also been featured in high-profile articles on Canadian legal bloggers (CBA Magazine: Blogging the spotlight and New Media Marketing, Part I - Blogs: How Lawyers Can Become Thought Leaders in a Niche Market (CBA members-only login)), all thanks to this blog. Also, thanks to this blog, I've met a number of great people from coast to coast, some of whom I've met in the real world and some who I only know through e-mail.
Importantly, all of the above is an unintended consequence. I didn't start out the blog thinking it would raise my profile or would be a good way to meet people. I started it because I wished someone else had put together a "one stop shopping" place for Canadian privacy law and notable news in this area. At the end of 2003, there wasn't such a site to keep privacy lawyers and others up-to-date on this area, so I decided to do it for myself. I was surprised at how easy it was and I was also pleasantly surprised that it didn't take as much time as I thought it would. Everything else has been gravy. Heaps of gravy.
In any event, I'd like to thank my friends, my family, my firm and my blog.