Becoming a Trusted Adviser: Nafisa Tejani, CIC.C

  • March 13, 2020
  • Lynne Yryku

Becoming a Trusted Adviser: Nafisa Tejani, 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

Nafisa Tejani, CIC.C

Nafisa Tejani practiced at firms in Toronto and Vancouver before deciding to move into an in-house role in the public sector. “My first in-house role was challenging, as I had the mandate of demonstrating the value of building in-house legal capacity.” She integrated herself into various teams to provide legal support and was soon leading a number of projects. As a result, the organization promoted her to the newly created position of Director of Legal, Policy and Compliance.

This was her impetus to enrol in the BLPIHC. “I was building a legal team, and I realized that half the role was managing relationships and the environment around you. I joined the program to better understand those dynamics. However, I came away valuing the practical aspects that the program incorporated.”

In the middle of the program, personal circumstances required her to move from Ontario to Alberta, where she joined professional services firm MNP as in-house counsel. “The practical aspects of the program provided me with exposure to areas of law I had not practiced and insights into the expectations of in-house lawyers, which allowed me to transition into my new role seamlessly. As a fairly new in-house lawyer, the program also provided me with a network of like-minded lawyers facing similar opportunities and challenges.”

Nafisa’s main takeaways? Remain flexible and engage in continuous learning to meet the demands of ever-changing business environments, and work to understand the drivers and strategic priorities of your business to be a true partner to your colleagues and contribute to business outcomes while mitigating legal risk.

“My experience has been that in-house lawyers must wear a business hat at times to provide meaningful advice,” she adds. “I have seen in my professional network that those who are able to align themselves as business partners are the most successful and have more opportunities to move into business leadership roles.”

She also realizes you can’t rush experience. “It is easy to become frustrated with not having answers immediately or not knowing how to best manage a situation,” she explains. “When I realized that these experiences are my leadership training, I changed my perspective and started to approach these challenges constructively.”

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