Associate, Ruby Shiller Chan Hasan Barristers
Year of call: 2012
Although it’s still early in her career, Angela Chaisson is already an ass-kicking activist lawyer. Last April, she and her firm challenged the B.C. government’s ill-fated approval of a law school at Trinity Western University, an Evangelical school that discriminates against gay students. (The province revoked its approval in December before the lawsuit made its way to court.) She is a feminist, a foodie, a friend-feeder (she enjoys hosting dinner parties at her Annex apartment) and a fun conversationalist. At her firm’s offices in a character-filled Victorian house near Yorkville, Chaisson chats about everything from her hatred of hair-straightening irons (she’s even trimmed her hair short with elegant slanting bangs to avoid its drudgery), to how many cats it takes to be deemed a cat lady (she currently has none).
She usually works 70 hours a week, and volunteers on weekends with the Barbra Schlifer Clinic, offering legal support to women who have experienced domestic violence. But she has no fear of burning out. “Those nights when you’re up at 2 a.m. working on a Supreme Court case — you need to find that work rewarding,” she says. “In criminal law there is always a crisis, but it’s really gratifying. There’s nothing like having a client walk out of the box.”
At 30 years old, Chaisson has developed a few tactics for staying balanced. She goes into the office on Sundays and works from home one day a week. “In the summer that’s Tuesday so I can go to the farmer’s market.” She also walks to work. “It’s 25 minutes,” she says. “I adore it. It helps me focus.”
“I’m a huge introvert,” says Chaisson, and so she recharges with introvert-y activities like cooking and attending book club. “I’m a ferocious reader. I belong to the UFC — the Ultimate Fiction Club,” she says. Her vacation time is spent exploring places like Sweden, Alaska and Italy with her pals or going home to Sooke on Vancouver Island. She takes a week’s vacation at the end of the summer to visit an organic farm, where she preserves seasonal produce like peaches in Mason jars. Luckily, her firm is also full of food-appreciators: every day, the five-lawyer team goes out for lunch together. “We’ll even drive up to Markham for good Chinese,” she says. Which is to say they take food as seriously as she does. “Clay orders the spiciest thing on the menu.”
Start time: 9 a.m.
End time: At 5 p.m. she goes home to cook dinner, then returns in the evening
Weekly hours: About 70
Something you’d never guess by looking at her: “I have 60 cases of Mason jars”
Lunch: Usually at an Italian place close to the office
Might get: A rescue cat. Or maybe two
Sanity-saving domestic weapon: A cleaning lady and a weekly delivery of produce from Mama Earth Organics
This story is part of The Precedent guide to getting it all done, from our Spring 2015 issue.
Photography by Daniel Ehrenworth