Road less travelled

Karima KananiFrom her perch at her downtown Toronto office, Karima Kanani deals with hospitals and healthcare providers across Ontario.  As a partner at Miller Thomson LLP, Kanani leads the corporate/commercial team in the firm's health industry group, handling everything from large-scale mergers to corporate governance and procurement of goods and services. Her clients include small social-service charities and large multi-site hospitals. She's a business lawyer through and through, yet her choice to pursue the JD/MSW was deliberate.

"I think there's a misperception sometimes about the combined program, that those who would pursue the law/social work degree are usually looking to work as activists and in the social justice areas," says Kanani, who graduated in 2002. What the social work degree gave her, she adds, is invaluable in her corporate practice: a different approach to dealing with problems and teams, and an entire set of skills she would not have acquired otherwise.

"The social work program gives you a grounding in really working with other people," Kanani says. "Empathy, mediation, negotiation - it trains you in those types of skills in a way that law school curriculums don't on their own."

Kanani has channeled those skills in many directions. An active volunteer in the community, she also co-authored a textbook on law and social work with Cheryl Regehr, the former dean of the Faculty of Social Work and currently the university's vice-provost of academic programs.  The book, designed as a guide for social workers, is now in its second edition, and is used in universities and colleges across Canada.

And recently, Precedent Magazine named Kanani one of six outstanding young, up-and-coming lawyers in Ontario, honouring her with a prestigious "Precedent-Setter" award for showing excellence and leadership in her practice and community.

For all she has accomplished, it seems Karima Kanani is just getting started.  The path to her future appears limitless.

Story by Karen Gross

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