YEDaily: Jordan Nahmias

Jordan Nahmias is a recognized progressive entertainment and corporate lawyer with a modern practice uniquely situated to provide high-end legal services at all stages of project and business development. His “big break” came after he wasn’t hired following an articling job at a major law firm in Toronto, which he quickly saw as a major opportunity…

Elevator Pitch: Describe your job in a nutshell.
I am a recognized, progressive entertainment and corporate lawyer with a modern practice uniquely situated to provide high-end legal services at all stages of project and business development. Our firm is realistic about what our clients should or can do and responsive to their needs in a quickly changing industry. As a legal advisor, my goal is to ensure that my clients’ needs, from both a legal as well as business advisory perspective, are well taken care of in advance of problems arising, while at the same time making sure that when you think of an entertainment or media lawyer, you think of us.

Why did you start working at your company? What was the inspiration for this career route?
I got here in a weird way actually. I was articling at a large, “seven sisters” firm in Toronto and was not hired back. Although I enjoyed it there and made many good friends and alliances, I think that was probably the best thing that ever happened to me (although I didn’t think so at the time – at the time, it actually sucked). I took a year out of law altogether after that to focus on things I wanted to do – I took a yoga training course and taught yoga; I photographed professionally; I did legal work on the side; I travelled. I wanted to do the things that I knew if I didn’t try then, I would regret. At the same time, I was also approached to work with and co-direct the Open Roof Festival. Needless to say, I had a full load at the time. But, in the process, I realized I am far more entrepreneurial than I thought I was, so I thought, “Hey, maybe I can practice law in that way too.” So, I jumped in with both feet, and here we are. 

As for the content of my practice, I have always been involved in the arts. Given my existing involvement and connections in arts, entertainment and media, I figured it was a natural fit to focus my practice on those areas.

What is the best part of what you do on a day-to-day basis? The most challenging part?
I’d have to say that the best part of what I do each day, AND the most challenging party of what I do each day, is getting things done. As a lawyer, you are often staring down a pipe of work that doesn’t actually stop, so getting a chance to breathe can be rare at times. It’s incredibly challenging to stay  focused on one task or matter when you have ten or twenty active at the same time with similar deadlines. But, when I accomplish a task for a client and see my client’s business or project get advanced on account of my work, that is pretty rewarding.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years? 
With regards to law, in five years I see myself continuing to run a firm, just bigger. By that I mean more associates, more clerks, more assistants, maybe even some partners. That isn’t for the sake of just growing though – it’s because, in many ways, larger size can bring efficiency.

With regards to the Open Roof Festival, I see us continuing to grow, maybe doing screenings in other cities in Canada, operating outside of the summer – who knows. I think that our festival is a great contribution to the city and independent film and music, and we hope that, over time, we will be able to provide more and more funding to independent film producers in Toronto. 


What does success look like to you?
I don’t think success looks like anything in particular really. I often refer to people following “the handbook” – by that I mean a stereotypical picture of success within our wider social circles or communities – which often include a certain car, house in a certain area, type of partner, specific career or place of work, etc. I am not a believer in that, only because success ought to look different for each one of us. With that being said, for me there are a few things that would indicate success in my life: a home and family; the ability to travel; a relatively peaceful state of mind about personal and professional matters; and, the ability to be as philanthropic as possible. Oh, and one thing I have always wanted – a great art collection. 

What is the most memorable milestone in your career?
That’s a tough one, but only because I am involved in a number of things that are all somehow connected to my career. In some ways, it was what I mentioned earlier about not being hired back after articles – that is probably the main reason I am where I am. However, I’d say the most memorable milestone since starting my own practice was hiring my first assistant. I think at that point, I realized, “Wow. This thing is actually going somewhere and I am busy enough to need help.” That was a nice feeling and it also made my life ten times easier by allowing me to focus on better work and service for my clients without being bogged down with the “day to day” of running a firm. 

Do you have any advice for other young professionals?
I try to live by a few “rules” and when people come to me for career advice, I often relay these: do what you are afraid of; act now; remember that nothing is permanent; and, be kind.

Oh, and this, which is some of the best advice I have ever gotten: the three A’s – availability, affability, ability. Focus on those, and your clients will come.

Do you support any charities? If so, which one(s) and why is that important to you?
Although I try to give as much as I can to the following charities and others which friends and colleagues solicit donations for, I also sit on the executive of the United Jewish Appeal Entertainment and Media Division, as well as on the board of Future Sinai, an organization dedicated to recruiting young leaders as a part of Mount Sinai Hospital’s Women’s Auxiliary (it’s not only for women!). I also am a member of the Hot Docs Film Festival Founders’ Circle, which recently supported the new creation of the Hot Docs Bloor Cinema (fyi: Hot Docs is a charitable organization, so feel free to donate!).

As for why it’s important – although I don’t hold fast to any set rule on how much time or money to contribute per year to any one organization, I think it’s key to understand that many organizations who do so much for our cities and communities run on incredibly tight time and financial budgets. The ones that have huge budgets actually spread their human resources and money around quite far, so there’s always more help that can be given, and when we help each other out, we all benefit. The above are important to me in particular because I have a personal connection with each one and I value what they give back to the world.

What to you is notable?
I’d have to say that, when I encounter someone and they come off as “notable” to me, its usually because they possess the characteristics of being kind, patient, independent or free-spirited, driven and, in as much as possible, knowing what they want. That’s not easy today, given the many expectations that are placed on young professionals, but I really find it admirable when a person knows what they want and just goes for it. 

Blackberry, iPhone, Android, or Other?
Is that even a question anymore? iPhone.