Doug Bryce answers the Precedent questionnaire

The managing partner at Osler on fashion, his pet canary and what keeps him up at night
Doug Bryce sitting on a set of steps

How would you describe your job to a child? I cannot do better than my wife, who once described it to my kids, when they were younger, as: “Daddy is the lunchroom supervisor at Osler, which happens to be a group of people who literally argue for a living.”

What’s your favourite piece of clothing? I’ll go with the T-shirt that says, “Surely Not Everybody Was Kung Fu Fighting.”

Who’s your favourite author? George Saunders, the greatest living writer of short stories in the universe. Dark, hilarious, humane and plain brilliant.

What advice do you have for new lawyers? Stick with it. The first two years are by far the toughest. It gets a lot better. Also, come to the office as close to every day as you can manage.

Do you have any pets? We have a pet canary (not our first), named Orion. We like him. He sings constantly.

Doug Bryce sitting on a set of steps

Who: Doug Bryce 

Role: National managing partner at Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP 

Family Profile: Married with three children, ages 11, 14 and 16 

What’s the most extravagant item you’ve purchased? I will simply admit to owning an embarrassingly large number of designer glasses. Most of which are actually pretty similar.

Who’s your favourite TV lawyer? Saul Goodman. Forty years ago, I would have said Matt Murdock (non-Marvel fans will have to look that one up). Twenty-five years ago, it would have been Lionel Hutz. See, personal growth!

What keeps you up at night? As a lifelong insomniac, it doesn’t take much. For now, let’s go with the accelerating disappearance of animal-life biomass on the planet that is neither human nor specifically bred to feed or entertain humans. Bleak, I know, but you asked.

What’s your greatest regret? Despite my insomnia, I am not generally haunted by a lot of regrets. My anxieties are usually aimed at the future, not the past.

Where do you live in the city? Bennington Heights, tucked in between Moore Park and Leaside. It’s a bit of a hidden oasis in Midtown. Quiet, but central.

What’s the best part of being a lawyer? Being around smart, driven and surprisingly funny people all day, every day.

What would you be if you weren’t a lawyer? Likely a foreign-service officer or policy wonk with the federal government. That was the environment that I grew up in, and I thought long and hard about following in my family’s footsteps before embarking on a career in private practice.

What are you watching on TV right now? The age of streaming has destroyed my viewing attention span in the same way that the internet destroyed my reading brain. There are just too many good options that are too easy to access. The shows I’ve been checking out recently, with slow progress on all of them, are What We Do in the Shadows, Reservation Dogs, Ramy, Atlanta and Fleishman Is in Trouble.  Plus Wednesday and Andor for family viewing. My favourite shows of last year were Severance and White Lotus, like half the people I know.

If you could change one thing about the legal system, what would it be? My litigation partners may kill me for this, but the entire litigation system in Canada (and probably all common law countries) seems brutally cumbersome. Alas, I have no easy solutions. The individual pieces have evolved the way they have for a reason.

What do you most value in your colleagues? Perspective, judgment, empathy and a sense of humour, the drier the better.

What’s the hardest part about being a managing partner? Lots of possible answers to this one, since the job is not simple at a large firm! But I’ll go with the circularity of the governance model. I report to the partners collectively; they report to me individually. That’s inherently tricky.

What’s your hope for the future? That sanity will prevail, and we will somehow muddle through as a species.

A condensed version of this story appears in the print edition of our Spring 2023 Issue.

Photography by Brent Gooden.