International Women's Day Profile - Sana Halwani
Marked annually on March 8th International Women's Day (IWD) is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity. Participation is witnessed worldwide as groups come together to celebrate women's achievements and rally for women's equality. This year's campaign theme is 'Choose To Challenge,' as a challenged world is an alert world, and from challenge comes change. In celebration of this day IPIC has introduced its IWD Spotlight Series featuring some of the many incredible women within the IP profession.
Sana Halwani is a lawyer and Partner at Lenczner Slaght, and leads the firm’s growing Intellectual Property practice. She represents diverse clients in patent, copyright, and trademark matters, including pharmaceutical companies, technology companies, fashion designers, gallerists and media companies. As Chair of the firm’s Innovation Hive and member of the Strategic Planning Committee, Sana evangelizes the use of technology in and out of the courtroom by leading the firm’s Digital Default and technology adoption initiatives. Sana is also a diversity champion and spearheaded ReferToHer in 2019, a series of lists of experienced female lawyers to whom lawyers and clients can confidently refer work. Sana has been recognized for her professional expertise by prominent ranking publications including Chambers, Lexpert, and IAM Patent 1000. Sana holds a JD from the University of Toronto, a BSc in Biochemistry from Queen’s University, and a MA in Biotechnological Law and Ethics from the University of Sheffield, UK. She also clerked for Justice Rosalie Abella of the Supreme Court of Canada. Sana holds numerous volunteer leadership positions including Director and Secretary of the Writer’s Trust of Canada, President-Elect of the University of Toronto Alumni Association, and Director of the Intellectual Property Institute of Canada. Sana lives in Toronto with her husband, two sons, and neurotic yet lovable Australian Shepherd.
Why is equity, diversity, and inclusion important to the IP profession?
For the same reason it is important in every facet of life: equality, diversity and inclusion helps ensure that everyone has access to the same opportunities and fair treatment. How can that not be important?
Which of your accomplishments are you most proud of?
Professionally, the accomplishment I am most proud of so far is building and leading an outstanding – and outstandingly diverse – IP litigation group at Lenczner Slaght.
This year’s theme for International Women’s Day is “Choose to Challenge” which encourages individuals to call out and challenge gender bias and inequality, because from challenge comes change. What do you believe is the best way to challenge biases and inequalities to achieve change?
My “Choose to Challenge” is not only to call out gender bias and inequality but to do something about it. That’s exactly what we’re doing with ReferToHer™ – a series of lists, organized by practice group, of experienced female lawyers to whom you can confidently refer work. As referrals are a crucial part of achieving business success, the goal of ReferToHer™ is to ensure that female lawyers are positioned as equal, available, resources for those seeking legal help. This is a step towards ensuring that, regardless of gender, clients are referred to the right lawyers. The IP Litigation list is full of fantastic advocates that should be on anyone’s referral list. Beyond client referrals, I also reference the lists when I need a panelist for a speaking engagement, when I am speaking to the media, and when I am recommending lawyers for rankings.
What advice do you have for aspiring women IP professionals?
Be you. It’s the only person you can be well. Law is a referral business that relies on connecting with clients, and that’s very hard to do if you’re not being yourself.
What will be the biggest challenge for the next generation of women leaders in the IP profession?
The biggest challenge now and for the next generation will be to ensure BIPOC and LGBQT2 women are benefitting in the same way from the strides that women have and continue to make in the profession. We cannot be complacent and must continue to call out and address inequity where we see it.