Suhuyini Abudulai

2016 Precedent Setter Award Winner: Suhuyini Abudulai

Meet the lawyer who overcame adversity and became one of Bay Street‘s top financial-services lawyers
Suhuyini Abudulai

Suhuyini Abudulai

Associate, Cassels Brock & Blackwell LLP
Called to the bar in 2009

By early 2010, Suhuyini Abudulai was ready to give up. Though she had been an associate at Cassels Brock & Blackwell LLP for about a year, she rarely worked on meaningful files, sapping her of motivation. “I had checked out,” she remembers.

Lawyer Suhuyini Abudulai Then she got a call. Alison Manzer, a senior partner in the firm’s financial-services group, wanted to help. “Her marketing skills were so advanced that everyone wanted her to go to events with them,” recalls Manzer. That’s no surprise: Abudulai, now 34, is a born extrovert who can easily work a room. Legal events swamped her evenings. Back at the office, though, it wasn’t resulting in any work — a nightmare for a junior associate. But Manzer, who quickly became Abudalai’s mentor, offered a solution: be more strategic about which events to attend, and, to win files from partners, develop a specialty.

“And did she ever,” raves Manzer. Within a few years, Abudulai became the firm’s go-to expert on the Consumer Protection Act — a baffling document that banking lawyers refer to as a “game of snakes and ladders,” because every clause seemingly refers to another. Abudulai annotated the entire act, and now helps banks and retailers comply with its minutiae. “It took a few months,” she says, “but I learned so much.”

Having found her place, Abudulai helps other young black lawyers get ahead. As a co-founder of her firm’s diversity committee and a member of the Canadian Association of Black Lawyers, Abudulai often speaks about the career hurdles placed before black lawyers — from discriminatory comments to unconscious bias. “We often dance around these issues, but I want to put it out there that stereotypes and biases play a role,” she says. “I want them to continue in their careers. I don’t want them to give up.”

Precedent Setter Awards 2016Don’t forget to read about our other amazing winners.



Photography by Ian Patterson, hair and makeup by Jessica Haisinger, shot on location at Cluny Bistro & Boulangerie.