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Ashlee Froese | Ontario | Go Above & Beyond!!

I wanted to be a lawyer since I was 8 years old. I went to University of Toronto for my undergrad and studied International Politics and then later went to Osgoode for law school. During my time in law school I interned with the United Nations in the Middle East. I later returned back to Toronto to practice law. I am a branding, entertainment and fashion lawyer. My scope of practice is trademarks, copyright, domain name, social media, marketing/advertising, packaging/labelling and commercial agreements. I fast tracked to partner on Bay Street within 7 years, I am recognized as a Certified Specialist in Trademarks Law by the Law Society of Ontario and for the last 3 years have been recognized as one of the top 1000 trademark lawyers globally. Earlier on in my career, I had an industry focus re: in the fashion industry and created the fashion law movement in Canada. After 10 years of practicing law on Bay Street, I left to launch my own law firm, Froese Law. Since its launch 18 months ago, two additional lawyers have joined the firm. We provide branding, corporate, commercial and tax law services. Our clients are consumer facing branded products, services and talent (think fashion, cosmetics, hospitality, celebrities, influencers, cannabis, artists etc.). We work with entrepreneurs and also multi-national companies. Throughout my career, volunteerism and mentorship are foundational tenets. I’ve chaired a number of boards, volunteered with a number of committees and acted as a mentor to a number of incubators. It’s important to give back. I also try to break down the ivory tower construct of traditional law to make it more understandable and accessible. For example, Froese Law issues weekly newsletters and hosts monthly free legal seminars to educate on developments on the law. So now I guess I can say that I’m a lawyer, entrepreneur and business owner.

What ignited the spark in you to start a new business venture or to make significant changes in an existing business? How did the idea for your business come about?

I guess I always had an entrepreneurial spirit, it just took me some time to act on it. I’d worked at a few different firms before launching Froese Law. I was able to see what I liked about those firms and what I didn’t like. Flatteringly, the vast majority of my clients would come with me to whichever firm that I moved to. At a certain point, I realized that perhaps the firm I was at wasn’t the catch for the clients, but perhaps more how I serviced my clients. Law is also a very challenging and taxing profession – with a very linear path to success. As much as I respect the experience of Bay Street, I don’t believe that it is the only way to practice law. After 10 years of Bay Street, I realized that I could create a law firm that worked for me and also for my clients. But this only came after solid work experience and a solid grasp on how to practice law and also how to run a law practice.

What were the biggest initial hurdles to building your business and how did you overcome them?

To be honest, none that have been insurmountable. Given that I had run my own book of business of clients for the last 8 years, I was fortunate to understand the business savvy it takes to do business development, maintain client relations, do the work, invoice properly, deal with collections, etc.. A majority of my clients came with me when I launched Froese Law, which was incredibly humbling and flattering. I know I’m not keen on accounting – but I have an excellent accountant and bookkeeper that helps me. Perhaps it’s also a mindset. I don’t see hurdles as something to overcome but rather part of the journey to learn from.

What books are you currently reading? And your recommendation for entrepreneurs to read?

I just finished reading Michelle Obama’s biography. Loved it! Next up is Dare to Lead by Brene Brown. I’ve noticed that in the last few years my reading preferences shifted from fiction to biographies of entrepreneurs on their journey to create their business. It’s such an interesting perspective to learn from them and to be able to relate to my clients’ journeys but also to now relate to my journey.

Did you ever deal with contention from your family and friends concerning your entrepreneurial pursuits? How did you handle it? What would you do differently in hindsight?

Never. My family is my squad. We have each other’s backs no matter what. I’m a lucky, lucky person.

What would you say was the single most influential factor in your business success?

I couldn’t identify just one. But here are a few: Outside of the box thinking. Confidence. Humility. Research. Building relationships. Recognizing what I don’t know.

What advice would you give to an upcoming entrepreneur locally and internationally?

If you are in the service industry, be the best you can be. Go above and beyond to hone your skills and enhance your knowledge – constantly. In my opinion, law school does not teach you how to be a lawyer and it certainly doesn’t teach you business savvy. Learning through experience is critical and having the right mentorship is key. I wouldn’t have traded my time on Bay Street at all – it was critical to learning my skill set. So find the balance between learning and then venturing out on your entrepreneurial path is important. It will only make you better once you venture out.


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