Ashlee Froese is a Branding Lawyer & Trademark Agent with Froese Law, a boutique cross-border branding, intellectual property, corporate and commercial law firm in Toronto. Recognized this year by “Lexpert”, a legal industry nation wide company, as a Change Maker in Law, Ashlee left Bay Street after 10 years and launched her own firm, allowing her to practice law in a more client centric and modern way. Ashlee will be presenting a workshop at this year’s WBE Canada’s 10th Annual Conference.
WBE Canada: Why did you go into this business?
Ashlee Froese: I’ve wanted to be a lawyer since I was 8 years old and was very dedicated to this career path. I’ve been practicing law since 2007. For the first 10 years I was a lawyer on Bay Street. I fast tracked to partner on Bay Street within 6 years of being called to the bar. I launched Froese Law in 2017. I love being a branding lawyer because our clients are quite literally shaping pop culture and we have a small part of contributing to that kind of societal impact. After 10 years on Bay Street, I decided to launch my own firm. It allowed me to practice law in a more client centric and modern way. Our unofficial mantra is to provide Bay Street calibre services without the Bay Street bull.
WBE Canada: When it comes to your business, what are you most proud of?
Ashlee Froese: Earlier this year, within 2 years of launching Froese Law, I was recognized by Lexpert, a legal industry nation wide company, as a Change Maker in Law. Only 39 lawyers across Canada were granted this award in 2019. Law tends to be an industry that is averse to shaking the old guard and so it was incredibly encouraging to continue on my path to demonstrate that you don’t have to be from the old guard to make moves in the legal industry.
WBE Canada: As a business grows it has a tendency to focus on institution instead of inspiration. How do you prevent this from happening?
Ashlee Froese: The establishment of Froese Law was purposefully created with this mindset as the driving force. Froese Law strives to excel not only for its clients but also with respect to its place in the corporate world. Froese Law is a paper-less office. Its business cards are made from recycled clothing fabric to minimize its impact on the environment.
We applaud mentorship, volunteerism, professional integrity and individuality, which are values that are woven into the fabric of our firm culture.
Froese Law is a law firm that empowers lawyers to dictate the direction of their career, fuel their interests, hone their skills and tap into their passion. Together, we are shaping the future of how law is practiced.
WBE Canada: How do you encourage creative thinking in your company?
Ashlee Froese: Froese Law is a unique law firm and we’re looking for a different breed of professional. Froese Law is a law firm that empowers our lawyers to dictate the direction of their career, fuel their interest, hone their skills and tap into their passion. We believe in high-quality work and a strong work ethic. We want to work with high performing professionals who have business savvy that can help our clients in a meaningful way. We believe in entrepreneurship, mentorship, volunteerism and authenticity.
WBE Canada: How has your WBE certification helped you in your business?
Ashlee Froese: It’s a badge I wear with honour. It gets me into the room with significant brands who I, otherwise, may not have had ready access to. In a male dominated industry, it is also an important point of differentiation in the marketplace. Some clients are drawn to my firm, in part, because it is a woman owned business. Other clients, who do not consider supplier diversity are, at the least, made aware of the consideration.
WBE Canada: What advice would you give to another woman at the beginning stage of building her business?
Ashlee Froese: The first is: consider yourself to be a business. If you treat your start up business as a hobby, you’re not giving it the respect it deserves to fully flourish. Second: know your strengths and identify your weaknesses. Build a team that can fill the holes left by your weaknesses. Third: not all advice is good to listen to. Remember, it’s easier to hate than create. If you’re an entrepreneur, you’ve already taken a step that most don’t have the courage to do. So some people in your circle may be haters or don’t have any appetite for risk. Perhaps don’t give their opinions the same weight as those that are championing you on!
WBE Canada: What has been the most challenging time in your business and how did you overcome it?
Ashlee Froese: To be honest, I started my firm after 10 years of practicing on Bay Street. I was well versed in the law. I knew how to run my clients’ files. I had my own transportable business. I guess the most challenging thing is to know when to turn off my computer and step away from my cell phones.
WBE Canada: What has been the biggest triumph?
Ashlee Froese: This sounds corny but is absolutely authentic. My clients come to me with a vision and a dream. I help them build that dream so that they are protected and best able to commercialize their brand. It’s incredibly satisfying and it’s so rewarding when I see my clients’ brands hit the marketplace and gain traction. To see their success and to know that we’re a small part of that, it’s a triumph every time.
WBE Canada: What is your superpower?
Ashlee Froese: I have two superpowers: organization and multitasking. I can’t run a successful start up law firm with a few hundred clients without those skill sets.
WBE Canada: How do you continue to develop and grow as a leader?
Ashlee Froese: I am constantly learning. I attend professional seminars. I research and write on legal topics constantly. I write academic legal textbooks on different areas of the law. I speak across North America on legal topics. I also read as much as I can on entrepreneurship and leadership skills. Throughout my university education, law school and legal career, I have always participated and/or chaired volunteer boards. As my career has progressed, the level of sophistication of these boards has also increased. This has been an excellent way to foster leadership skills.
WBE Canada: What is your favourite quote?
Ashlee Froese: I have a few that strike a chord in different ways:
“Don’t ask. Don’t get.” You have to be your own best advocate and assert your position. Worst case, if they say no to your ask you know your position and can pivot sooner.
“Anyone can start a war. Not everyone can find peace”. I find this especially relevant in the legal industry. Negotiations do not have to be zero sum and not everything has to end in litigation. Finding a sophisticated, business savvy solution to an issue is oftentimes in the client’s best interest.
WBE Canada: Are you actively involved in community work? If so, please provide a brief outline.
Ashlee Froese: I hold numerous leadership and mentorship positions within the legal, branding and fashion industries including executive committee member (Ontario Bar Association), brand strategy council member (Canadian Marketing Association), co-chair (City of Toronto’s Fashion Industry Advisory Panel), advisor (Ryerson Fashion Zone), mentor (Canadian Arts and Fashion Awards), mentor (Toronto Fashion Incubator), committee member (Intellectual Property Institute of Canada), committee member (International Trademarks Association), past co-chair (Fashion Group International), and past chair (Toronto Intellectual Property Group). I also recently became a Committee Member of the Princess Margaret Hospital’s fundraising arm and am a board member of Social Media Week Toronto.
WBE Canada: What do you hope your legacy will be?
Ashlee Froese: Law is an extremely old school industry. It is a notoriously tough industry for women to excel. In fact, retention of women in law is a significant issue. My aim is to demonstrate that you can be a successful woman, a skilled lawyer, a valued advisor, keep your femininity, be dynamic, be friendly and fun loving. I am hoping to show the new generation of lawyers coming into the industry that you don’t have to tow the line of the old school. You can maintain your individuality and still be professional.
About Froese Law
Froese Law is a cross-border branding, intellectual property, corporate and commercial law firm dedicated to structuring our clients’ business and protecting, enforcing and 3. their brands. We work with our clients to create the most effective legal framework for their business to penetrate the marketplace. We secure our clients’ intellectual property assets, protect their competitive advantage, structure their business, manage their third-party relationships, finesse their branding and negotiate their commercial agreements to ensure that their business is ready for success in both Canada and the U.S. Froese Law directly provides cross-border legal services between Canada and the U.S. and also manages legal issues that fall outside of North America through our network of foreign lawyers. You can connect with them on their website, Twitter or Instagram.
About WBE Canada
WBE Canada is a Canadian non-profit organization that is opening doors for women-owned businesses to supply chains across North America. It certifies Canadian firms that are at least 51% owned, managed and controlled by women and introduces them to opportunities with corporations. To learn more about how we support women-owned businesses, click here. If you are a mid-size or large company looking to support women-owned businesses through procurement opportunities, we want to hear from you. Click here to learn more how you can get involved.