Linda Ippolito never intended to become a lawyer. In the mid-1980s, she was building a career as a professional pianist: she studied at Juilliard, performed around the world and played with the Montreal and Toronto Symphony Orchestras. “Everything was going really well,” she says.
But then, while practising for an upcoming competition, Ippolito slammed the piano in frustration, herniating a tendon in her hand. “I heard this little snap,” she recalls. “I thought, Oh, that was bad.” Her doctor ordered her to stop playing for a year — a devastating blow. “Time off is like the death knell to a piano player.”
It was 1988, and Ippolito, then 27, was suddenly out of an occupation. On a whim, she took the LSAT and applied to Osgoode Hall. She got in. And so began a three-decade career in family law.
These days, she co-manages Sheridan Ippolito & Associates, a small firm in west Toronto. But Ippolito never gave up on music. Hand fully healed, she plays at least two major concerts per year, interpreting romantic composers like Chopin at venues such as the Four Seasons Centre. And she occasionally accompanies her wife, a full-time singer.
Ippolito brings the collaborative culture of the musical scene to her practice. As a policy, she always pursues settlements and never conducts trials. Ippolito has also spent more than a decade studying how musical problem-solving can be applied to legal negotiations. She holds both a masters of law and a doctorate. “I’ve never understood why some lawyers find it so hard to make a deal,” she says. “I can get together with musicians I’ve never met and create something incredible.”
This story is from our Spring 2019 Issue.
Photography by Daniel Ehrenworth