Meet Shelagh Carnegie

The depth of the relationships I've ended up having all over the world is an incredible treasure to have." – Shelagh Carnegie

As co-head of Gowling WLG's global Intellectual Property Group, Shelagh Carnegie works closely with colleagues in Canada, China, France, Germany, the UK, Singapore, the UAE and other locales to strengthen and streamline the firm's offerings across all areas of IP law – including with respect to IP prosecution, enforcement, litigation and transactional work.

In this video, Shelagh shares some of her most rewarding experiences working as an IP lawyer at Gowling WLG, including the strong connections she's built over the years with her clients and colleagues.


We have a leadership team that says if you have a good idea, go for it, we have your back.

That kind of support has made Gowling WLG a very exciting place to work. I joined Gowling WLG because of its reputation. In my view, no one comes close in the intellectual property field.

I've stayed because of the opportunity to work with the most brilliant, creative, and genuinely fun individuals who have not only become some of my closest friends, but also helped me build a successful career. The firm is well known for its entrepreneurial culture, we're encouraged to bring big ideas to the table.

And if they fail, hopefully, we've all learned something.

But if they succeed, then we all benefit from it. This is one of the reasons I've pursued leadership positions here, as we have the latitude to look to the market and try things out. And that's the type of environment I want to work in and help cultivate.

I've always been a creative person. So I knew intellectual property was the right fit for me from the beginning. And I'm grateful that I pursued it. I've had the opportunity to work with wonderfully creative people from all sorts of different industries, from advertising, to automotive, to agriculture, to food and beverage, I love diving into a new industry and coming up with the best strategy to help protect and enforce the rights of those associated companies.

It's also very rewarding to see the results of our work out in the marketplace, on billboards and in stores. I have two teenage daughters who think it's very cool that I work for Starbucks, and other amazing brands that they know and love. I do a lot of traveling in this role. And my daughters are becoming more interested in traveling with me. So I may have two little protégées coming along with me soon.

As an IP lawyer with a focus on trademark and branding, I help protect trademark rights and enforce them around the world. And working with global colleagues, you learn a lot about local law. And it gives us greater depth when we're speaking to clients in terms of our ability to spot issues and direct them.

To be able to offer that breadth of multi jurisdictional solutions with an overarching strategy is wonderful. Time is money. So being that one stop shop makes so much sense for our clients. In 2019, I was ready for a new challenge.

So I took over as the head of our national trademark group, it was a pivotal time to be leader of that group. Canadian law had changed on the trademark side very dramatically, and a great deal needed to be done to prepare our group for that change. It was a busy and exciting time, and it gave me more appreciation for how fabulous our people are.

Everyone dug in and got the work done, and showed how dedicated they were to making our practice one of the best in the world. It was a great early leadership experience, and it made me want to take on even bigger roles.

Today, I co lead the firm's global Intellectual Property Group, which has been very rewarding. We undertake activities to bring a single firm approach to our clients.

That means bringing the services of our global experts to the world. So clients know to call us first. We've done this through a variety of topical thought leadership materials, including a very well received ongoing global webinar series, which we've seen a real appetite for. My focus in this role is to give our people the tools they need to serve our clients, including by utilizing the firm's global platform.

We're now looking for more ways to bring people together such as through large global conferences. It's been wonderful leading this world class group and harnessing its power on a global stage.

As a mother of two young women, and as a practicing lawyer for over 20 years. I enjoy supporting and encouraging other female lawyers. I currently have three mentees, two of whom are women. I get my mentees involved in my files working directly with clients. I also often have them draft client communications, which I review with them as a part of the mentoring process.

I help them understand that clients need practical business oriented solutions that can be implemented even when timelines are short. Being a sector based firm allows us to go deeper and learning about our clients industries, to be able to speak their language and provide them with business savvy solutions. I encourage my mentees to be industry specialized, but at the same time, learn about other industries as well to expand their horizons and allow them to more easily collaborate with their colleagues.

My approach when dealing with clients is to be a good listener. This allows me to quickly understand and connect. Most of what I do is risk assessment. Helping my client understand what their appetitefor risk is and how to factor that into the decisions that they make. It comes back to offering practical, realistic advice tailored to them.

I also enjoy building bespoke reporting or other service delivery tools for clients.

I listened carefully and figure out what they need and then we engineer the best model to suit their practice tempo.

I genuinely care about my clients and the people I work with, as I work so closely with my clients and colleagues, they truly become my friends.

The depth of the relationships I've ended up having all over the world is an incredible treasure, and one that I will cherish long after I retire.