Becoming a Trusted Adviser: Daniela O'Callaghan, CIC.C

  • March 13, 2020
  • Lynne Yryku

Becoming a Trusted Adviser: Daniela O'Callaghan, CIC.C

Having business and financial literacy is fundamental to being a good in-house lawyer. As lawyers, you are trained to be guardians of corporate integrity, but many have realized you have to go beyond that to succeed and thrive in the future. You need to build your reputation as a trusted advisor.

Enter the Business Leadership Program for In-House Counsel (BLPIHC). Offered by the Rotman School of Management in conjunction with the CCCA, it is the only program of its kind in Canada, providing graduates with a competitive edge by combining your in-house counsel experience with a strategic business focus. But you don’t have to take our word for it—here is what recent graduates have to say.

Find out more and enrol at

Daniela O'Callaghan, CIC.C

The importance of time was one of the big lessons Daniela O’Callaghan learned from the BLPIHC: “Time to pause and reflect, and identify and express what resources and supports you will need to succeed when taking on a new file, project or position.”

“You also don’t need to have all the answers,” she continues. “A good in-house counsel is able to recognize the value others bring to the table and will create opportunities to work collaboratively and leverage the skills of their colleagues to find the best solution.”

Working well as part of a team is something that Daniela excels at. Prior to becoming a lawyer, she had a brief but fulfilling military career as a naval intelligence officer, working part-time as a reservist while going to law school. She was with the Canadian Naval Reserves for about five years before she moved to legal full-time. 

Most recently, she was a solicitor with the Legal Services Division of Alberta Justice when, at the encouragement of a mentor, she enrolled in the BLPIHC. Now she is a regulatory, privacy and compliance lawyer at EPCOR Utilities Inc. in Edmonton. She credits the program as “instrumental” in her professional development. “The instruction is top notch and equipped me with practical skills and know-how to address the challenging business and legal issues faced by in-house counsel. It also provided me the opportunity to meet and learn from exceptional colleagues and guest speakers at various stages of their careers.”

In the future, she plans to move up to a senior counsel position, providing expert legal and business advice to the leadership team and helping to create a positive culture. “I want to earn the reputation as a trusted, strategic business partner and leader within the organization, and manage people in such a way that they feel supported, fulfilled and valued in their roles.”

“There is an expectation that in-house counsel should know the business and be ‘easy’ to do business with,” she explains. “Only then can we become team players in making significant business decisions and help shape policy, culture and strategic initiatives.”

To get there, she is seeking to enhance her understanding of her organization’s business by taking on increasingly complex work, participating in workplace initiatives and contributing to succession planning, as well as developing her business acumen through opportunities like the BLPIHC.

Lynne Yryku is the Executive Editor of the CCCA's In-House Edition.