Ashlee Froese is a force to be reckoned with! A lawyer and trademark agent who is recognized by the Law Society of Upper Canada as a Certified Specialist in Trademarks Law. She has over 10 years of experience practicing branding and fashion law. A deep understanding of brand-protection strategies, she’s also one of the legal experts on the Ontario Cannabis Act. Ashlee is a frequent guest speaker and published author on branding and fashion law. She has lectured at law schools, universities, cultural institutions, law societies and industry associations. Published in numerous magazines, academic publications, she is a contributing author to a nationally published book. Ashlee frequently provides her commentary to the media on legal matters in a variety of different topics. #Bossbabe
BWR: What inspired you to become a lawyer?
Ashlee: I knew I wanted to become a lawyer since I was 8 years old. I always had a very clear vision of what my life would be. A lawyer that was living and working in the city. I’m fortunate that I had a singular vision from an early age. It allowed me to focus my energies on my goal without too much distraction. I remember that my 16 year old self debated whether I should stay at McDonalds since I wasn’t sure it would help me get into law school.
BWR: Can you tell us about your journey that led you to become a partner at a very prestigious law firm on Bay Street?
Ashlee: For me, success in law is a trifecta: legal knowledge, client base and going the extra mile. Complacency has no place if you want to push envelopes. During my tenure on Bay Street, I was recognized as a Certified Specialist in Trademarks Law by the Law Society of Ontario. Ranked as one of the top 1000 lawyers globally in trademarks law, I have always been very dedicated to honing my knowledge and crafting my skills. I was able to secure my own transportable practice and client base at an early stage of my career. This allowed me to dictate the direction of my career at an early stage.
In addition, I carved out a new legal practice area in Canada: fashion law. Within 2 years, I decided to focus in the fashion industry. I launched Canada’s first fashion law blog, authored Canada’s first academic legal journal on fashion law and threw myself into mentoring Canada’s next generation of fashion designers. As an associate, I was a committee member of national and international trademark lawyers’ associations and the president of a Toronto based intellectual property law association. I was also an academic author and public speaker early on in my career. In addition, I was very involved in the fashion community. All of these assets helped me become partner within 7 years of being called to the Bar.
BWR: What was the inspiration behind the founding of Froese Law? What are you hoping to accomplish through it?
Ashlee: After 10 years of being a partner on Bay Street, I decided to launch my own firm. Although I truly believe in the Bay Street experience to hone legal skills, it’s not the only route to practicing law. Having an entrepreneurial spirit, a loyal client base and a good grasp on the law, it was the perfect time to go on my own. I didn’t need the Bay Street platform to service my clients. We seek to tear down the ivory construct of traditional law. Accessible and relatable define us. Our unofficial mantra is that we provide Bay Street caliber legal services, without the Bay Street bull. Our clients are consumer facing branded products, services and talent. Basically, we are the intersection between law and pop culture.
From an internal standpoint, Froese Law is completely on the cloud and a paperless office. This gives our lawyers flexibility in where to work. Our corporate social responsibility is very important to us. We try to minimize our environmental impact. In addition, we are a certified woman-owned business.
BWR: What would you say is the most challenging part of your job?
Ashlee: Juggling all aspects of my business, as well as my clients’ legal issues, is more challenging. But, not insurmountable at all. I am rigid on organization and so I find this to be quite manageable.
BWR: What are you most proud of? What’s your best accomplishment professionally?
Ashlee: A few years ago, the head of admissions at Osgoode Hall Law School, reached out to me to say they had received 3 entrance application submission essays where the law school applicants had specifically said that I was their motivation to apply. I had never met these applicants. It was incredibly humbling to know that I have an impact on the new generation of law students. In addition, I truly am proud of the work I do. Oftentimes, my clients are creatives who find the legal aspects more challenging. But I know that they are key elements to their business and we can help. It’s a pleasure to watch my clients flourish and penetrate the marketplace.
This year, I received an award from the legal community for being a Change Agent in Law. Only 39 lawyers across Canada received this award. I was the youngest. It feels nice to have my efforts noticed in an official capacity as well.
BWR: What is the biggest issue in the law industry and what measures can improve it?
Ashlee: Retention of women in law is a significant issue. Which is a shame because the majority of students in law school are, in fact, women. The business of law is an old construct that modernizes at a glacial place. There is a lack of honest introspection within the legal community about the profession, which is detrimental to its evolution.
BWR: What advice can you give to fellow entrepreneurs who want to start their own business?
Ashlee: Think of yourself as a success in the making. Prepare yourself for that level of success along your journey. Also, identify your strengths and weaknesses. Play to your strengths and bring in people to fill the gaps of your weaknesses. Surround yourself with honest people who will give you constructive feedback. The haters can go. So can the “yes” people.
BWR: On a final note, where do you see yourself 10 years from now?
Ashlee: Let’s all hope it’s on a yacht in the Mediterranean Sea! Well, at least for the month of August! I have visions for Froese Law and don’t intend to move on from it. I’m building something valuable for my clients and also for the next generation of lawyers. Strategically expand Froese Law to a full-service law firm that is a one stop shop law firm for all of our clients issues. I am dedicated to the boutique work environment. However, I don’t see the firm growing past 20 lawyers.
ASHLEE FROESE/FROESE LAW SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS