60-second interview with Kavina Nagrani TEP and Nithilia Murugadas
What is your role within your firm?
We are the founding partners of the firm and both practicing wills, estates and elder law lawyers.
How did it feel to win a STEP Private Client Award?
Winning the award was incredibly surprising as a new firm and, of course, both humbling and rewarding. Our team watched the ceremony live and popped a few bottles of champagne to celebrate as the winners were announced!
Why is winning a STEP Private Client Award important to your firm?
As STEP members and estate planners it is truly an honour to be recognised by our own organisation in this manner. We are also a new boutique firm, having opened our doors in July 2020 during the pandemic. The recognition goes a long way to ensure we can continue to do the work we do for vulnerable clients.
What do you like best about your job?
We genuinely enjoy all aspects of our job, which include helping our clients, mentoring and teaching our associates, developing business partnerships, continuing legal education and most importantly the day-to-day advocacy.
... and what do you feel is most worthwhile?
The most worthwhile aspect of our job is providing our vulnerable clients, those that have gone through a particular tragedy or health issue, with focused and personalised attention. Obtaining positive outcomes for our clients gives us a sense of accomplishment and worthiness.
Another worthwhile aspect of our job is when we give back to the community at large, whether it be by legal webinars and presentations that aim to educate the public or working on initiatives to assist vulnerable members of our communities.
What would you say to a young person thinking of a career in this industry?
Wills, estates and trusts is an area of practice that is both personal and technical as opposed to transactional. The technical nature of our job is intellectually challenging because the deliverables that we are required to draft (wills, trusts, etc.) require us to consider tax implications and potential claims from affected persons (beneficiaries, creditors, etc.). On the more personal side, every file that we touch involves some of the most important aspects of someone’s livelihood, their legacy, their life’s work and the succession of wealth to future generations.
Where do you see future growth, both in terms of sectors and jurisdictions?
We do not plan to expand our firm’s practice areas beyond that of wills, estates and elder law so that we can remain specialists in our area. We would rather do a few things really well then dabble in multiple areas of the law. As we are Ontario-based practitioners, we continue to partner with complementary firms and professionals in other jurisdictions in the US, across Canada and internationally as our clients’ estates often cross multiple borders.
What do you feel are the main challenges facing your organisation/practitioners at the moment, and how will you deal with them?
The pandemic made it more challenging to meet with clients in person, and to a degree still is a limitation for many who remain unvaccinated. Virtual witnessing of wills and power of attorney documents and commissioning of affidavits has supported access to justice for the public in our area of practice, but it has not been without its challenges. Many people do not have access to the required technologies or are simply not proficient in the use of technology generally. Also, risks of undue influence are heightened when the lawyer and clients are not able to meet within private settings in person.
How do you deal with these challenges?
We have remained open to servicing clients throughout the pandemic both virtually and in-person and we have learned to adapt to whatever circumstances our clients may face – whether that be i) lack of access to technology, (ii) unable to leave their residence, (iii) in a palliative stage of life and others. We have had to be both flexible and mobile in the past year.