I recently had the pleasure of sitting down with Karen Vadasz to talk about life and law. In addition to being a successful banking and finance lawyer, Karen is one of my summer mentors. I have valued her approachable nature, fun personality, and dedication to ensuring I make the most out of my summer. I look forward to continuing to work together during articling!
Lawyer: Karen Vadasz
Practice Area: Banking and Finance
Year of Call: 2012
Law School: Osgoode Hall
What drove you to a career in business law and why banking and finance law specifically?
I did the joint JD/MBA program at Osgoode Hall/Schulich, so I have always had an interest in business. After my MBA year, it was natural for me to pursue the business side of law, rather than litigation. As a summer student, I spent time in one of Goodmans’ business law sections, where I met a lot of different people and worked on a wide variety of interesting work. When I came back to article, I continued to do financing work. Pursing banking and finance law came naturally. Did I know what I wanted to do from the beginning? No, but I knew that I was interested in business law and followed my interests. My career unraveled very organically.
What makes Goodmans a great place to work at?
The people! I had an amazing summer student class and some of my best memories at Goodmans, even to date, take place during my summer. In the years afterwards, we have stayed a really close group of friends. We went on exchange together during our last year of law school, travelled to Thailand and Laos together (where we slept in tree-houses in the jungle), and have since been to each other’s weddings and had kids around the same time. While I met them during my summer, we have become lifelong friends.
What is a proud moment for you at Goodmans?
One of my former colleagues and I were co-chairs of the Goodmans United Way Committee, which is an annual week-long event at Goodmans, where the firm comes together to raise money for the United Way and the organizations in the GTA that the United Way supports. After our campaign, Goodmans won an award from the United Way that recognized Goodmans as one of the organizations with the highest employee participation rates. I am really proud to be part of a firm where everyone comes together and tries to help other people in our community.
Since you’ve started you career at Goodmans nine years ago, you’ve had two kids. How has your life changed and what lessons have you learned through balancing parenthood and big law?
I have two amazing kids, ages 3 and 1 and since they’ve come into the picture, my life has definitely changed a lot! Working and being a mom can be a whirlwind at times, but I’ve learned not to judge life on a day-to-day basis but to strive for balance on a greater level instead. I try to focus on what’s most important to me and stick to it. For me, that means doing great work and spending a lot of quality time with my kids. This often means working later in the evening or earlier in the morning, or jogging to work instead of going to the gym, but this is how I’ve arranged my schedule to manage both parenthood and business law.
What has helped me succeed is surrounding myself with a good team, both in law and in life. I always have family and friends around to help and I try to ask for help when I need it (including at work!). At Goodmans, my role models and mentors have been pivotal in supporting me through this journey of both motherhood and building my career. Having people at work who support me career wise and who also understand what I’m going through at home (and who encourage me to succeed on both fronts) is really important and I am so grateful to those amazing people in my life.
Do you have any advice for summer and articling students?
Ask tons of questions and take notes! Say ‘yes’ if someone asks for help, and try to get involved in as much as you possibly can. Throughout your time as a student, keep an open mind. Don’t be afraid to do something that you didn’t necessarily think you’d be interested in, as you never know what a small task you help with as a student could unfold into later.
Now for a round of fun questions:
If not a lawyer, what would you be?
A food travel blogger, actress, or dermatologist! Those are my top three.
What’s your favorite TV show/movie?
These days, I’m watching Paw Patrol or Moana with my kids.
What is one item on your bucket list?
Yoga teacher training in Bali! While this probably won’t happen for the next 30 years, it’s definitely happening at some point.