Lisa Durnford doesn’t have a five-year plan. She’s a free spirit and her spontaneity is obvious in her actions.
Lisa Durnford doesn’t have a five-year plan. She’s a free spirit and her spontaneity is obvious in her actions. She put her medical school plans on pause after speaking to her grandfather who encouraged her to go to law school. She is inspired by challenges and motivated to create solutions especially in the area of emerging markets and technology. So, it’s no surprise that her focus these days is in the anti-money laundering and cryptocurrency arena.
Why law? What inspired your legal aspirations?
My path to law is not the most inspired – I was planning on going to medical school! But as I realized that science was more of an interest than my desired career, I took a number of philosophy and sociology courses and decided to change course. My grandfather was a lawyer and he had a significant impact on me.
Where did you earn your law degree?
Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto
What kind of law do you currently practice?
I am an Associate at the Bank of Montreal in its Anti-Money Laundering Reporting Office. It is a non-practicing role; I do primarily regulatory control analysis. Also, recently started a cryptocurrency newsletter – for fun! It’s called the BMO Bit (as in Bitcoin). It’s great to have an employer that is supportive and open to creative ideas.
What is a typical day at work/office like for you?
I have fairly predictable hours and work from home every other day. I work in a global department so I spend a lot of time on conference calls, but also work with a close team here in Toronto.
What is the best part of your career?
Tough question. I have many goals so I am hoping that the best is yet to come! But for now, I appreciate being provided with new challenges, the support to take on new projects, and the flexibility to stay involved in extra-curriculars that are important to me, like Co-Chairing Venture Out.
What is your least favourite part of the job?
In previous roles I really enjoyed leading a team and being a manager. I look forward to working towards a role that will allow me to continue to grow as a leader.
What legal case had a strong impact on you and why?
Carter v Canada, striking down the Criminal Code provision prohibiting assisted suicide and allowing for physician assisted death to be regulated. I focused on health law in school and found myself quite invested in the outcome of this case. Luckily, Joseph Arvay is a brilliant lawyer.
Also Gladue —it opened my eyes to the injustices of the law and society more than any other case.
Where did you complete your LPP work placement?
eHealth Ontario, a governmental agency tasked with implementing a public Electronic Health Record system. I supported both legal and privacy counsel.
Describe a significant experience during the work placement component of the LPP:
My placement at eHealth was my first choice and the reason I took a chance on the LPP in its pilot year. There are few articling positions in health policy but the work I had the opportunity to do at eHealth was exactly what I was looking for. It also led to a legal internship at the World Health Organization (WHO), a dream position.
I always wanted to work for WHO. I went on a whim and applied and forgot about it and then got an email. It was perfect timing as I had just finished my placement at ehealth and I jumped on it. I literally planned the internship while was I in a hostel in Turkey and then moved to Switzerland the week after I returned to Ontario. It was a phenomenal experience and I believe I got that internship because of my LPP placement. I met so many ambitious and interesting students and interns and found the experience overall very inspiring.
Describe some of the more helpful tools or skills you acquired during the LPP:
Being able to work effectively and congenially in a group is a useful skill and one that I had not had a lot of experience with – both medical science and law lend themselves to solo study. The LPP training component required navigating a group and supporting each other while delivering on tight timelines.
Anything else you'd like to share about the LPP and your experience:
I was hesitant at first; the LPP was brand new and there was a lot of skepticism at the time. That said, I had a fantastic overall experience and am grateful to have had the opportunity to go through the program and gain health and privacy law experience in the process. The LPP team is spectacular and has prioritized incorporating feedback as they grow the program into a crucial pillar of the licensing process.