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Article | Newsletter

Spotlight: Introducing Fasken Ottawa’s three newest associates

Reading Time 5 minute read


Capital Perspectives Newsletter: Spotlight

From commercial litigation to international trade and lobbying law, these tireless associates are tackling a range of needs that impact our clients’ ability to do business. They are Nabila Abdul Malik, Shannon Kristjanson and Kai Olson.

We asked them each about the practice of law, the big issues for clients in their areas of practice and what they do to unwind away from the office.

Nabila Abdul Malik

Nabila Abdul Malik’s work has taken her from the Attorney General’s Chambers of Malaysia to the headquarters of the World Trade Organization in Geneva, Switzerland. A graduate of the University of Oxford and Columbia University in New York, she is called to the Bar in four jurisdictions across three continents.

What drew you to the practice of law? Nabila: I grew up in a kind of legal fraternity – my grandfather was a court interpreter, my father was a Federal Court of Appeal judge and my brother has a PhD in law. Law has always been a part of my life so it felt natural (for my father especially) to make it my career choice.

What is your practice group and area of focus?

Nabila: Litigation and dispute resolution, international trade and investment as well as white collar crime. 

What do you consider to be the most interesting or significant legal issue for clients related to your practice area?

Nabila: Issues that arise from current events, such as whether and to what extent due process rights of litigants are affected by virtual hearings, the far-reaching implications of recent government policies and the legitimate expectations of investors.

What was the last book you read?

Nabila: A compilation of short stories by Anton Chekhov. I found the book in a thrift shop.

What are your hobbies/interests outside of work?

Nabila: I enjoy spending time with my family and friends, reading the Economist from cover to cover while sipping tea, watching documentaries and foreign films, and exploring different neighbourhoods in the city.

Shannon Kristjanson

Shannon Kristjanson graduated from the Faculty of Law at the University of Ottawa. During law school, she worked with the Refugee Hub, the uOttawa Community Legal Clinic’s Community Legal Education and Outreach Division, the Department of Justice (Treasury Board Secretariat) and Global Affairs Canada.
What drew you to the practice of law?
Shannon: I became interested in studying law because it touches with so many aspects of society. As someone with wide-ranging interests, it seemed like an interesting world to explore. Having recently joined the practice itself, I find it satisfying to use both technical precision and creative thinking to respond to real-life issues facing clients. The fact that you’re constantly learning is an added bonus.

What is your practice group and area of focus?

Shannon: Broadly speaking, I practice business law at Fasken, but work in a few areas. I am involved in the firm’s corporate/commercial practice, in areas including corporate finance and mergers and acquisitions concerning both private and public companies. I am also a member of the firm’s Procurement and National Security practice groups, where I focus on issues concerning public procurement, government contracts and government security clearances.

What do you consider to be the most interesting or significant legal issue for clients related to your practice area?

Shannon: National security and critical infrastructure protection are increasingly top-of-mind for governments worldwide and Canada is no exception. The pandemic has demonstrated that Canadian governments see a need to protect critical infrastructure and to secure domestic supply of goods and services.

Going forward, government legislative and policy decisions will be informed by this experience. This may be a double-edged sword for businesses. Clients should anticipate increased government attention on national security concerns, which may require problem-solving or risk mitigation. However, clients can also look to capitalize on new business opportunities relating to critical infrastructure that may arise in the pandemic and post-pandemic environment.

What was the last book you read?
Shannon: I recently finished From the Ashes: My Story of Being Métis, Homeless, and Finding My Way by Jesse Thistle. It’s an incredibly powerful memoir in which the author details his experience living on the streets and his journey to overcome trauma and addiction. I would not call it an “easy” read but it’s an important one and I highly recommend it.

What are your hobbies/interests outside of work?

Shannon: I love music – you can often find me playing my saxophone or flute as a form of stress relief. I was trained in the world of jazz, but love exploring different genres and different artists. I am also a self-proclaimed wine-lover and enjoy learning about the different wine regions around the world and pairings with different foods. I have a dream of taking a sommelier course at some point in the future.

Kai Olson

Kai Olson has a background in regulatory law and compliance, and administrative law. Prior to joining Fasken, Kai was a litigator at the Enforcement Branch of the Ontario Securities Commission. He graduated from the Faculty of Law at the University of McGill.

What drew you to the practice of law?
Kai: I always imagined that the day-to-day work of a lawyer involved many of the things that I enjoy, including research, writing, thinking critically about issues and being around people.

I’m happy to say that I was not wrong.

What is your practice group and area of focus?
Kai: I joined the Political Law practice group in the fall of 2019.

My primary practice areas are lobbying law, lobbyist registration and compliance, public-sector conflict of interest matters, and election and election finance law.

I also act for clients who are the subjects of regulatory investigations or enforcement proceedings for political law offences.

What do you consider to be the most interesting or significant legal issue for clients related to your practice area?
Kai: The most significant issue for clients in the political law space is the dynamism of the law itself – the law in this area is frequently changing and expanding. The practical result is that the day-to-day activities of businesses or organizations may be subject to lobbying law (and registration), conflict of interest rules (including gift-giving prohibitions) or even election law.

It is important to understand how these laws may affect your business or organization. We’re here to help our clients be compliance focused.

What was the last book you read?
Kai: Civilization by Niall Ferguson.

I’m currently reading A Good Man by Canadian author Guy Vanderhaeghe.

What are your hobbies/interests outside of work?
Kai: I enjoy watching documentaries on almost any subject, trekking across the city with a good coffee in hand and keeping up with world affairs/business. I’m also a die-hard US college football fan (Go Michigan!).