This week, I was lucky enough to meet with Victor Liu- a man of many talents. In addition to being a Partner who specializes in mergers and acquisitions and corporate finance, Victor is the head of Goodmans' cannabis group. Victor is a great mentor to the summer students and is always ready with a joke to make you laugh.
What drove you to begin the career path to Law?
People who work in the law either know they want to do law or they just fall into it. I’m probably in the latter camp. I did my undergrad in Economics and realized that when you major in a subject, you have to write a thesis. I didn’t know how to do that so I applied to law school in my third year and luckily, got in. I guess I always had an affinity for law and 20 years later I’m still here.
And why business law?
I knew that I liked the transactional nature of the practice. I appreciated the variety in work and it was great being exposed to different clients and business areas. We are very entrepreneurial at Goodmans so our clients are people who are doing new and innovative things all the time and that keeps things interesting!
How did you get involved with Goodmans’ cannabis practice?
A client of mine, who at the time was involved in a completely different and unrelated industry, called me about a new business proposition. He knew that the law for medical cannabis was changing and that there would be opportunities for business in the cannabis space. We incorporated the company for him, raised seed money, signed leases and employment agreements – essentially the whole start-up operation. We started in late 2013, listed on the TSX Venture in 2014 and sold in early 2017 for half-a-billion dollars. Along the way it became a real industry and it transformed from a field that only a few of us were dabbling in, to a real practice area, touching all aspects from general commercial, to M&A, to corporate finance, to IP, to litigation and regulatory, and no doubt soon, to restructuring. No one knew that it was going to blow up like this.
Moving on to “down time”, if you had a one-year sabbatical what would you do?
It would be nice to really unplug and just get away. Ultimately, I would defer to my wife. Anything that is good enough for her is good enough for me, especially if it is in a no wifi zone!
Last but not least, what advice would you give to young lawyers starting their careers?
Be open-minded. What we learn in law school and in undergrad are completely different than the practice of law. Law school teaches you how to think. The practice of law is a combination of your legal skills and creative thinking, as well as client management, time management and the topics that interest you at a particular time.
Cannabis law is a perfect example for me. I didn’t necessarily set out to be a cannabis expert but once you get passed the fact that its cannabis and all the misconceptions, it’s really like any other industry where lawyers apply their legal and analytical skills, training and expertise to the issues faced by the client. It’s helping your clients grow a business, understand and comply with legal and regulatory requirements, raise money, scale, sell, buy and many other things that come with being a trusted legal advisor to your client, in whatever industry. So above all else, open yourself up to opportunities that come and don’t feed into your preconceptions of what things are.