The ebb and
flow of in-house
life at Hydro One
SANJEEV DHAWAN is a man with energy to burn. The University of
Windsor law school grad keeps very active at work and at home. By day
Dhawan is currently the senior legal counsel (law division) and manager,
commercial contracts (supply chain management group) at Hydro
One Networks Inc. Dhawan and the 13 other in-house lawyers at the
provincially-owned corporation are “very hands-on,” doing virtually all
commercial work, as well as most of the litigation and real estate work
in-house. By night he is a married father to twin seven-year-old girls. His
family likes to keep active together — they skied this past winter and plan
on playing baseball this summer. He somehow also finds the energy to head
the Ontario chapter of the Association of Corporate Counsel. Dhawan,
who has worked at Hydro One for almost a decade, recently told Melissa
Dunne via e-mail about life as an in-house counsel.
The Lawyers Weekly: What is it
like working for a provincially-owned
corporation? Any surprises?
Sanjeev Dhawan: Our shareholder is
the province. In effect, our shareholders
are the ratepayers and residents of
Ontario. My organization maintains the
infrastructure for the transmission and
distribution of electricity in much of
Ontario. This is an important function
in the daily lives of millions of people.
The work the in-house lawyers perform
facilitates my company’s performance
of this function. There are a few
surprises... However, it’s incredible how
much advance planning and process
there is in what my company does.
and I very much enjoy
the fact that I can be
involved in business
decision-making. I enjoy
side of what I do. We
can provide tailor-made strategies and
solutions to a myriad of situations, and
I enjoy that role. I like the fact that
I can develop a wide range of skills.
Traditionally, as lawyers we bring strong
analytical skills and judgment to the
table. By being involved in a business
role, I can develop my strategic skills. I
have also learned to embrace risk when
it’s responsible to do so, rather than be
paralyzed in decision-making.
least your instincts. As in-house lawyers,
we operate in a wide field, so [we]
hav[e] to quickly shift from one area of
law to a much different area of law and
then hav[e] to drill deep. Sometimes
you have to slow things down to figure
LW: The term work/balance is a
foreign concept to many lawyers, how
do you balance your busy job with
your other interests?
LW: What are some of your favourite
things about your job?
SD: I enjoy the variety of work, and
the fact that my contributions have a
meaningful impact on our company.
Part of what I do is a business role
with our [s]upply [c]hain department,
LW: What are some of the biggest
stresses in your job?
SD: Sometimes the law is not very
clear. Sometimes the facts are not very
clear. Yet, there is an expectation that
you can help the organization come out
on the right side every time. You have
to trust in your reasoning abilities, or at
SD: It’s a constant struggle. You have
to enter personal commitments into
your calendar and try your best to stick
to them... [I]f I have to attend a soccer
game for the kids, I will make sure that I
get there. This may mean that I have to
look at a priority file after the game, but
at least I didn’t miss the game. END