Precedent Setter Awards 2021: Aaron Baer

Meet the lawyer who’s using technology to make the legal world more efficient
Portrait of Aaron Baer

When Aaron Baer arrived at Aird & Berlis LLP as a first-year summer student, he noticed that some legal processes were very inefficient. Every time a transaction was about to close, he watched as clients paraded through a boardroom stuffed with documents and signed them one by one. The whole ordeal took hours. “I remember thinking, This makes no sense,” he says. “We are literally paid to be inefficient.”

Portrait of Aaron Baer

Aaron Baer

Partner, Aird & Berlis LLP
Year of Call: 2014
Law School: Western University

Baer is now a 31-year-old partner in the firm’s corporate group, and he’s worked tirelessly to stamp out these kinds of time-wasting legal procedures. He achieved that goal, in large part, by bringing modern technology into the office. He introduced software for closing transactions, for instance, that made day-long boardroom closings a thing of the past. And in 2018, he completed a secondment at the legal-tech company Diligen, whose software can review contracts for potential legal issues far faster than any human. He then helped Aird & Berlis incorporate the software into its corporate practice. “Aaron is efficient,” says Fiona Brown, a partner at the firm. “He regularly creates processes to complete work better and faster.”

This June, Baer is taking that expertise to Renno & Co., a fast-growing law firm that offers legal services to tech companies and startups. He’s also launching a business called 4L Academy. His plan is to offer a training program on both legal tech and substantive law to summer students, articling students and lawyers in their first five years of practice.

This new venture dovetails with Baer’s long-time commitment to the most junior members of the profession. As a young lawyer, he often felt like he lacked the competence to handle high-stakes assignments on strict deadlines. To assist those in a similar position, he’s been an active mentor at Aird & Berlis. And at Ryerson University — where his wife, Carly Basian, manages the financial- aid department — he hosts weekly mentorship sessions with first-year students at the brand-new law school. He answers questions on practical topics, such as how to conduct a job search or how to prepare for exams. “I’m truly passionate about training,” says Baer. “I’m trying to provide the support I didn’t have when I was a law student.”

This story is from our Summer 2021 Issue.

Photography by Saty + Pratha; set design by Kristen Lim Tung; hair & makeup by Caroline Levin / P1M.