Our diversity makes us better
We understand the powerful impact that diversity has on innovation and culture. Smart & Biggar embraces diversity and inclusion because it makes us a better firm for our team members and for our clients. We are committed to creating and maintaining an open, inclusive, and flexible culture that allows all of our team members to reach their full potential.
An IP firm that reflects our world
As Canada’s leading IP law firm, our team reflects the diverse and multicultural nature of our country and the clients we advise and support. We are committed to providing our clients with unparalleled expertise in IP law and unparalleled diversity of knowledge, experience, and perspective.
Diversity and inclusion in action
Smart & Biggar is dedicated to cultivating diversity and inclusion through our leadership, policies, processes, programs and resources to meet the evolving needs of our most important asset – our people.
At Smart & Biggar, we celebrate and support diversity as a fundamental value of our firm. We also recognize that a diverse and inclusive culture is a key ingredient to the ability of all of our employees to thrive within our work environment and to offer the best and most innovative services to our clients. Matthew Zischka, Managing Director
We are proud of the initiatives that we have implemented as we strive towards our goal of being an inclusive and diverse organization:
- Diversity and Inclusion Culture – Committed to championing our diversity and inclusion (D&I) goals our employee-led Diversity & Inclusion team, led by principal Jonas Gifford, is a highly engaged group of team members from offices across Canada, and
all areas of the firm. Guided by a clear vision statement, the team has implemented a number of successful Diversity and Inclusion initiatives, including cultural celebrations, D&I awareness campaigns, programs focused on allyship, and Pride
activities held across offices. The employee-led team collaborates on programs and activities that foster community a diverse and inclusive environment.
- Systems to Support and Measure Diversity – Under the leadership of our Chief Talent Officer we are building a best-in-class talent experience with diversity and inclusion at the forefront and embedded into all areas of our firm. This
has included initiatives like unconscious bias training relating to hiring and management practices and the launch of a Diversity Census Survey to create a baseline for ongoing tracking of our demographic data on the dimensions of diversity within
- Celebrating Women in Technology/Intellectual Property – Smart & Biggar is involved with a number of industry programs to celebrate and support women in IP including at the International Trademark Association (INTA) annual
conference, the American Intellectual Property Law Association (AIPLA) Women in IP Networking events across Canada and the Intellectual Property Institute of Canada’s (IPIC) Women in IP Networking groups. We also engaged in actively participating
supporting the Chiefs in Intellectual Property "ChIPs" association for Women in IP, including through local chapters in Canada and at their Global Summit and Next Gen summits.
- Educating our Firm about Accessibility – Smart & Biggar strives to provide a barrier-free environment for our team members, clients, vendors, potential applicants and any visitors who may enter our premises or use our services.
We believe that awareness is key to maintaining a safe and open work environment and as a result, have implemented mandatory eLearning about accessibility for persons with disabilities and issue regular internal communications on accessibility
issues and best practices.
- Smart & Biggar is Part of the Inclusion Community in Canada – Our firm is a proud member of the Law Firm Diversity & Inclusion Network (LFDIN). As active participants of this network, we meet with other Canadian firms to discuss topics of mutual concern and interest and provide support for diversity and inclusion programs in member firms. We have also received training through participation in a variety of educational programs as part of the LFDIN, as well as seminars including HRD Diversity & Inclusion Masterclass, and the Thomson Reuters Women’s Transformative Leadership Forum.
Women in leadership
Smart & Biggar has actively promoted women and we are proud to have female partners represented in each of our major practice areas (patents, trademarks, industrial design and life sciences) and business services teams and in each of our offices.
Our female senior leaders in the firm include principals Daphne Lainson and Christine Genge are involved with the AIPLA Women in IP committee, and Christine is also a member of the Retention & Advancement Sub-Committee. Several of our industry and practice groups are led by female principals, including Life Sciences and Chem / Bio (Daphne Lainson) Marketing & Advertising (Alice Tseng), Life Sciences Regulatory (Nancy Pei and Alice Tseng), and within our Pharma Litigation practice there are several women principals (Yoon Kang, Nancy Pei and Urszula Wojtyra).
We are proud that our female principals Nancy Pei and Yoon Kang have been recognized among the Top 100 Women in Litigation by Benchmark Canada (2023). Additionally, Nancy was recognized as one of the top thirty life sciences attorneys in the world in Expert Guides: Best of the Best (2019, 2021). Daphne Lainson has been recognized by Euromoney LMG Life Sciences as 'Canadian Patent Strategy Practitioner of the Year' (2020, 2022) and Nancy and Daphne have each been annually listed in Euromoney's Expert Guides: Women in Business Law as leading female practitioners in the world for Life Sciences (since 2015) and Patents (since 2020).
Recognized for excellence in diversity and inclusion
While we don’t do it for the awards, it is nice to be recognized for our dedication to diversity and for the talents of our team members. These honours allow us to reflect on what works and what to continue striving for.
EuroMoney LMG Women in Business Law Awards:
- 'Best Canadian Firm' (2021-2023)
- 'Best National Firm in North America for Career Development (2022-2023)'
- 'Best National Firm in North America for Work-Life Balance' (2023)
- ‘Best National Firm for Gender Diversity' in North America (2021-2022)
- 'Americas Firm of the Year', Global Award (2022)
- ‘Best National Firm for Women in Business Law’ (2020)
- ‘Best National Firm for Diversity' in North America (2019)
- ‘One of the World’s Top 250 Women in IP’ (2020-2023)
Canada’s Top 100 Employers:
- National Capital Region’s ‘Top Employer’ (2018-2020, 2022)
- National Small Medium Enterprise ‘Top Employer’ (2018-2020, 2022)