Marie Brault is a big believer in “doing what you love and loving what you do,” and the philosophy has paid off . Marie is currently the VP of Legal Services at National Bank Investments and Senior Manager, Wealth Management Legal at National Bank of Canada—roles that challenge her, allow her to have a semblance of work/life balance and always keep her on her toes.
That said, finding her dream job didn’t happen overnight. In fact, she tried a few other roles on for size before she was able to figure out what her ideal career would ultimately look like.
“In some of my previous jobs, I had a bit of the imposter syndrome going on. I felt like I was living someone else’s life and I was scared I’d drop the ball,” she admits. “When I fell into this position, which I chose based on doing what I love and loving what I do, everything felt right. It has always been the right fit; I can give the right advice and add value for my clients.”
Finding her true calling
Marie’s early career ambitions originally didn’t involve law at all. Until the age of 18, she wanted to become an architect—until she finally spoke to one, and realized what a career in architecture would actually entail.
“I realized my desire to create magnificent things would only take up 1% of my time, and the other 99% would be spent in engineering,” she says. “That didn’t interest me in the least. So, suddenly, I had six months before I had to apply to college and I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life.”
So Marie sat down with her parents—separately—to discuss her future. Both of them recommended going into law.
“They both said I had strengths that would work well for me as a lawyer, so I decided I’d eventually apply to law school and chat with lawyers in the meantime. At that point, the switch was on—and it stayed on.”
Marie earned a law degree from Sherbrooke University . She articled at Davies Ward Phillips & Vineberg LLP, took a couple years off to complete a master’s degree in business law at the University of Montréal , and then rejoined the firm as a young lawyer in the firm’s corporate department.
“In that role, I did a bit of everything. I found my true calling when we did a deal to launch a real estate investment trust. It was a mix of real estate and securities law and I realized that I really loved securities law.”
It was this passion for securities law that led her to the next stage of her legal journey—a securities law practice at Osler’s Montréal office.
A perfect fit
After getting a taste for securities law, Marie was hungry for more. And, as it just so happened, with Osler’s Montréal office starting up, the firm was searching for more lawyers to specialize in the field. The timing was ideal.
She says her time at Osler was a springboard for her career, largely due to the incredibly talented people she had an opportunity to work with. She has many treasured memories from working at the firm—her favourite being the closing of the deal involving the Bombardier family’s repurchase of the company’s recreational vehicles division.
“We had a four-inch thick document consisting of summaries of agreements we had to do due diligence on. We called it ‘the brick’—it was so big we couldn’t print it too often, maybe once a week,” she recalls. “By the end of the deal, we promised we’d have a bonfire with the last version we printed—and we did.”
“In late December 2003, we had a bonfire, sipped some champagne and celebrated the crazy deal that just closed.”
Landing a dream job
In 2005, Marie was at the point in her career where she was looking for a bit more balance. So when a former schoolmate contacted her to see if she knew anyone interested in backfilling his role at National Bank, she was eager to learn more.
“I spoke to him about why he was making the move, and he said it was because he wanted to be less hands-on with the legal practice. I was interested in staying hands-on, so it seemed like a good fit,” she says.
Marie interviewed for the position, got the job and has enjoyed it ever since—although there was a bit of culture shock at first.
“I was hard-wired to stay at the office until I couldn’t stay anymore—that’s just how it was for me in private practice. That wasn’t the culture at National Bank,” she says. “The first boss I had would come into my office before she left—she had a young family, so she would leave at a normal hour—and she would say, ‘I’m turning your computer off in two minutes.’”
“She taught me that there’s always more to do, and if you try to get it done, you’ll never do it all. That’s largely why working in private practice probably wouldn’t have worked for me long term. I would have burned out.”
Today, with a four-year-old daughter of her own, Marie appreciates her spare time—and takes great strides to carve it out. So, in between sitting in on executive meetings, managing a team of “brilliant” lawyers, reviewing agreements and public disclosure documents, and commenting on proposed regulations—to ensure the industry strikes the right balance between compliance and effectiveness—she also spends much-needed time with her family.
“That intervention by my first boss at National Bank helped me learn how to turn the switch off,” she says. “There are times when clients need you to be available and on, but it doesn’t need to be all the time. When it’s important, I have to trust my own judgment and disconnect once in a while.”