Jennifer Davidson has always been a bit of a techie. Two decades ago, in a previous professional life, she taught herself how to build websites for media companies and applications for fledgling startups. But she was particularly drawn to working with lawyers to ensure that great innovations didn’t fall on the wrong side of the law — and she even found herself doing LSAT problems in her free time. So in 2013, in her mid-30s, she went to Osgoode Hall.
Associate, Deeth Williams Wall LLP
Year of call: 2017
Now an associate at Deeth Williams Wall LLP, Davidson’s practice centres on technology and intellectual property, spanning everything from complex technology agreements and IP licensing to cybersecurity and data protection. As the firm’s go-to counsel for data and security breaches, Davidson says her schedule “does get exploded on a very regular basis.” When a client is hit, she will call in forensic IT firms, public relations experts and even a hostage negotiator (in the case of ransomware). “Sometimes, it’s 24/7 for a week,” she says. “I’ll send emails till 1 a.m., get a few hours’ sleep while somebody else takes the helm, and then get up and get right back into it.”
Davidson’s services were in enormous demand at the start of the pandemic, when organizations — banks, governments, educational institutions — needed to deal with the legal implications of moving quickly online. At the same time, she was stick-handling three kids through the twin pressures of home-schooling and teenagehood. “I adore my beautiful and lovely children, but I prefer never to be locked down with them again,” she says with a laugh.
That sort of candour anchors her approach to mentorship, as well. “Jennifer always brings in the human element that sometimes gets lost in translation,” says Lisa Danay Wallace, a partner at WeirFoulds LLP, who has known Davidson since her articling days and has seen her leadership skills on display at the Canadian Technology Law Association, where Davidson is the president. As the former co-chair of the group’s Women in Technology committee, Davidson organized events around pay equity and unconscious bias. For one especially powerful speaker series, female lawyers shared their biggest failures. “There was laughter; there were tears,” says Davidson, who also built up a year-long, nationwide mentorship program pairing senior members of the bar with new lawyers. “But even women doing incredible things make lots of mistakes. We really need to see the person behind the career path.”