Member Spotlight: Corrine Boudreau

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

My name is Corrine Boudreau. I live in Halifax, Nova Scotia. I’ve been a business lawyer for more than 20 years now. I’m an entrepreneur and a lawyer. 

One of my passions is helping Canadian business owners, particularly women and non-binary folks, figure out how to create a legal foundation for their business. I’ve figured out different ways of doing that over the years, but that’s really what drives me.

Why did you decide to pursue your business?

Yeah, well, I think like many people in the legal profession, once you graduate, you go look for a job; you don’t necessarily look for what legal business am I going to create? That’s not something that anyone talks about in law school. So like many other people, I articled at a big law firm and learned the skills of being a lawyer.

So, I had a pretty traditional legal career for the first 10-11 years. And then I had what I now call my “soul-sucking situation” – which I think a lot of entrepreneurs do – they have that moment where you’re in a job, and you’re like, Wow, this doesn’t really work for me anymore.  And then you start to think, well, how can I do this differently? 

I decided to leave the law firm where I was and start my own thing. So I started my own practice that  got me into teaching. I created a course curriculum for entrepreneurs, and then I turned that into an online business. So it’s been a progression of things, all trying to figure out better ways to serve the audience that I really liked to work with.

How did you fund your business?

I think I’d be in the category of “bootstrapper”. For the most part it’s been continuing law practice, doing one-on-one client work, and definitely using some of that money to fund my life, but also to help build out a platform – particularly in an online business, it’s not just recording some videos and throwing them up on a website. 

You quickly realize that you really have to create this infrastructure around an email list and creating content and having people find you. Funding has been primarily using revenue and reinvesting it in my business. I’ve taken a more “slow and steady” approach to growth rather than borrowing a bunch of money or looking for investment.

What’s kept you feeling driven and motivated during the harder parts of that?

I think one of the things that’s always appealed to me about being an entrepreneur is that you can be innovative. I actually went to work in an accounting firm in between working at a law firm and starting my own practice. So one of the things I think that continues to fuel me is that I get to be innovative. 

When I started a practice, I started with no clients and a blank sheet of paper…which was more like a Google doc because I had decided to be a digital law firm. And this is back in In 2013, so it was a bit stranger than it is now! 

Someone told me once your clients will tell you where you need to go. And so I’ve always taken that to heart – to really listen to what they need, listen to what they can’t find out there. And then try to figure out how you can help create solutions. 

Can you give us a piece of advice that you could offer others who would like to follow in your path?

There’s so many things that pop to mind. One of them is: find a group of clients or customers or whatever you want to call them, that you really like to serve, and that you also really like to hang out with. And then talk to them about what they need, what they’re afraid of, where they get stuck, and then try to figure out ways that you can help them. And then you ask for feedback, and sometimes you need to tweak it.

I would say being an entrepreneur, it’s fun, but it’s not really about you, it’s about your customers and your clients. They’ll tell you where you need to go, they’ll tell you what they need. Figure out something you’re good at, and something that they want to pay for. That’s, I think, a good recipe for a business.

How would you like to see your business grow?

Well, I think I’m in the online space has been great. I used to be very much again, I said that I’m in Halifax, I used to serve almost all clients in Nova Scotia, and then very specifically, even in Halifax, so lawyers have tended over really over time to have be pretty local, you know, it was more like your local corner store, then then something else. But I think I, because I’ve been doing things online and because of again, some of the areas of law are either federal, or pretty consistent across the country. 

And sometimes the types of businesses that women start are also kind of dissed by the legal establishment like I’ve, I’ve had people say, Well, I’m doing, you know, online coaching in the in the spiritual space, and I’m making hundreds of thousands of dollars a year, and I can’t get a lawyer to call me back. 

My passion is helping women business owners see that legal knowledge is going to be one of those tools that you need in your tool in your toolkit, to help you grow and scale and protect yourself. Having some legal knowledge helps to empower women to make big moves.

What made you sign up for the Canadian Women’s Chamber of Commerce? Was it that collaborative effort?

Well, my word for 2023 is collaboration. I’m always looking for new ways to collaborate. I just became a member in January…and the reason I found out about you was a result of collaboration. 

Most of the products  in my business I’ve created by myself, and with my team, but I actually collaborated with a partner on creating a different type of product. She’s in Alberta, and I’m in Nova Scotia. We were talking about what other types of organizations can we reach out to, and she sent me an email and said, Have you ever thought about joining this? 

My practice, generally, is very local. So I’m just looking for ways and, and organizations that can help me have more of a national scope. And you’re national, it feels like that can give me a bigger network. 

What does success look like for you? 

I have a bit of a slogan: work hard, have fun, give back. So to me, if I can be doing all three of those things in my business or in my personal life, that’s what success looks like for me. 

“Work hard” I’m not afraid of. I’m reaching out, creating new things, listening, doing all those things that sometimes feel hard. I’ve definitely gotten out of my comfort zone, moving from being in a downtown office to doing crazy videos online. Being in an online business felt hard, but it gets easier as you go on.

“Have fun”… in law?…it can be a heavy thing. Similar to accounting, we have a bit of a harder time attracting people to it, because it doesn’t seem fun, it seems scary and all that stuff. So to me if I can have fun myself, but also find other people and have some fun connections.

“Giving back” to me means helping other businesses in various ways, but also giving back to my community. So if my business allows me to do that, then then that’s all good. That looks and that feels like success.

What is an achievement that you’re very proud of?

I recently had a law school reunion, because of the pandemic we were delayed, so it ended up being my 21st law school reunion. And you end up at a table with people who you graduated with, and I was really proud of being able to explain what I’ve done with my education. Being able to explain that I’ve taken my legal knowledge and that I created something innovative, that makes me feel proud. 

One of the choices that I made along the way was to be there for my kids – law is a very demanding profession. In terms of all of the work-life balance, and looking at my kids I’m proud that I was there. Now they’re moving into different stages of their life, but I have no regrets about any of those choices that I made. 

That feels like an accomplishment – having your child go off and be independent, knowing that you didn’t miss any of those important moments. I think as a mom, that feels like a sense of achievement.

If you could go back and speak to yourself five years ago, what advice would you give yourself?

I’m trying to think of where I was five years ago. It was probably when I had been asked by a business advisor if I could create a course. At that time, I was also trying to figure out if I could make this online, not just in-person, so it would have a more national scope. 

I think I had a lot of doubts back then about whether or not that would be successful. So to that person (me) that was having doubts about whether this would all work, I think I would say: go for it, don’t be timid. 

But also ask for help. I think I was a little bit too much of a lone wolf in the early days. When I got stuck, I tried to do a lot of it myself. You’ve got to really go for it, and then ask for help when you get stuck and commit some resources to that.

Any final words, anything else you’d like to say?

On the legal side: I really do think it is possible to create a solid legal foundation in your business without it feeling overwhelming. Everyone has legal issues in their business, so all we have to do is find a way of creating solutions for them. 

Don’t be afraid to get some practical advice. Don’t leave things to chance, because I think it is a skill that we do have to develop – like be a marketer, be a CFO.  It’s just part of being a business owner. It’s just a skill set that we have to develop and nurture over time.

This interview has been edited for clarity and length.

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