Network crowd connected

In the Spotlight: Ann Tuck, Vancity

Ann Tuck photoA financial services cooperative renowned for its socially progressive values and ethical products, Vancity has been able to count on BLG alum Ann Tuck for its legal strategy and risk mitigation over the last four years, in her evolving role of VP Legal Affairs and General Counsel.

Our Vancouver Partner and National Business Leader, Labour & Employment, Shelley-Mae Mitchell, has known Ann since the latter joined us as a summer student, right around the time when Ladner Downs and other firms merged to become BLG. Decades later, Ann and Shelley-Mae’s relationship endures, and their long-lasting chemistry was evident during our spotlight review.

Vancity is where Ann’s heart came to alight

Vancouver City Savings Credit Union, commonly known as Vancity, comes as the latest juncture in a rewarding career that saw Ann Tuck navigate among various financial institutions since leaving BLG for in-house positions, also spending a few years at Corix Infrastructure Inc. along the way. With her progress and experience came increasing responsibility in the corporate space.

“I knew since my student days that a litigation practice wasn't where I was going to end up, but I’ve always really enjoyed corporate legal work. Presently, I manage a great team of lawyers and legal specialist and we work on contracts, acquisitions, corporate records, business lines, support regulatory work: my current role requires all the financial services knowledge, all the risk mitigation skills, all those pieces that I've built up over time,” says Ann.

Vancity appeared to her one day as an opportunity to put her values into action, not just her skills. Since its creation in 1946, the financial institution has been first in allowing women to obtain a mortgage without a male co-signer, first to offer a socially responsible mutual fund to Canadians, and first in North America to pull off carbon neutrality. The list goes on, and to this day Vancity is recognized for its social initiatives, including its Indigenous-focused financial solutions.

“This is an organization that puts values first. We prioritize serving the financial needs of our members, and we work with community partners to effect systemic change and address big problems where we live,” sums up Ann.

A couple of years ago, on top of her General Counsel responsibilities, Ann was appointed Corporate Secretary, as well. While she remains quicker to point out team successes as a matter of professional pride, the opportunity to work closely with the executive and the board brings her great satisfaction.

“I feel privileged helping to make the next steps and authorizations for the organization crystal clear, and really enabling our elected board to oversee Vancity’s strategy.”

With her team, other occasions for pride are plentiful, as Ann and her colleagues get to successfully connect with business teams on everything from contracts to partnerships in the community, cooperative change makers, and policies that support equitable treatment for members.

There once was a student-at-law

From her early days at BLG, Ann mentions Don Bird, in financial services, as making the most lasting impact on her practice and career: his careful consideration of detail taught her how to bring added value to her work. “Make the extra phone call, do the extra work, take the extra time. This works with life as well as in practice.”

Rotating between different practice groups during her training, Ann remembers several other early mentors who all had in common the quality of moral and emotional support they offered, and how key they were in helping students like her develop skills and connections. Making her way up as an Associate, she was joined into the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Group, a practice that was quite broad, even then. Ann recalls how leaders at the time had used that latitude to make work exciting; she was officially won over.

Gazing at an electronic future

Like many lawyers nowadays, Ann identifies technology, and artificial intelligence (AI) in particular, as the single biggest game-changer coming to the profession. She’s concerned about the principles and knowledge currently held by lawyers, and exercised under strict ethical guidelines, becoming subverted by how easy it is to get quick answers from AI. On the other hand, she’s also excited about the practice of law potentially becoming more affordable and more accessible because of it.

“Practitioners need to focus on crafting guidelines that take into account diversity, equity and inclusion, and make sure that the necessary advisory pieces in client relationships, involving personal connection, a deep understanding of the business and of the economy, and of societal impacts, that all of those are taken into account,” says Ann.

Spoken like a true Vancity advocate—and an ex-BLGer, with an eye for detail.