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Tech Tales - Women's Edition
MaraNickerson

Mara Nickerson

Chief Knowledge Officer, Osler

Where were you born? What shaped your career path?

Born and raised in Toronto, Canada. The only thing that might have shaped my story is that I grew up in a large family that never knew an issue they couldn’t argue about. I learned early on to have an opinion, but it also made me open to listening.

What did you do before your current career or role?

I have been in law my whole career, at the same firm. I started out as a practicing lawyer. I have had a varied path at my firm, between practicing (in and out a couple of times) and then taking on an increasingly large portfolio on the management side.

I love the variety of projects I get involved in – from technology, process, program design, online learning, transition to an online practice; it is never boring. The work my team does impacts our lawyers on a day to day basis, in small ways and big ways.

Describe your current job.

My role is to ensure our legal professionals have the tools, training, process improvements, systems and other supports needed to practice efficiently and provide effective client service. I am responsible for knowledge management, professional development, the library, new business intake and records.

How did you get started doing this?

My role was created many years ago out of the firm’s regular strategic planning process – creating a full time role for professional development and precedents. I had come to believe in the importance of both of these things for quality control, risk management and efficiency. I found it interesting, challenging and a new way to make a contribution to my firm.

What’s your favorite thing about your current role?

I love the variety of projects I get involved in – from technology, process, program design, online learning, transition to an online practice; it is never boring. The work my team does impacts our lawyers on a day to day basis, in small ways and big ways. And now, in the age of legal disruption, with firms needing to streamline how we work, lawyers needing new skills on project management and pricing, the need to adopt new technology and processes, I believe the work my teams do enables us to meet these challenges and support our lawyers and our clients.

Describe a moment you are proudest of in your career.

One might be our first Innovation Month 2 years ago. Bringing together clients and partners in our first hackathon, and getting great turnout from our lawyers on an internal update on legal innovation in the industry and at the firm, and then holding several successful associate hackathons. It was the beginning of getting the firm’s attention on innovation in the industry from which we have made huge strides.