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Alana Bassin, national product liability counsel for Siemens and national counsel on cases involving many Boston Scientific medical devices, also handles commercial and general liability litigation. (Submitted photo)
Alana Bassin, national product liability counsel for Siemens and national counsel on cases involving many Boston Scientific medical devices, also handles commercial and general liability litigation. (Submitted photo)

Breaking the Ice: Product liability work is constant learning

Name: Alana Bassin

Title: Partner, Bowman and Brooke

Education: B.A., political science, Bachelor of Commerce, Queen’s University; J.D., University of North Dakota School of Law

Alana Bassin, partner at Bowman and Brooke, likes that her product liability work involves more than practicing law.

It also requires gaining expertise by working with experts in everything from medical devices to gas explosions and fire ants.

“The number of things that you get to learn about and to deal with the top engineers in the field and kind of become expert yourself makes it an interesting and fascinating career,” Bassin said.

Travel also is part of her work.

“There are a lot of times when you’re not wearing a suit,” Bassin said. “You’ve got boots and a hard hat on. You’re at accident scenes or in a field trying to understand how fire ants migrate with the weather. Those are definitely Texas cases.”

Bassin, national product liability counsel for Siemens and national counsel on cases involving many Boston Scientific medical devices, also handles commercial and general liability litigation.

She has been co-managing and managing partner of Bowman and Brooke’s Minneapolis office and now is an observer on the boutique national firm’s executive committee.

Q: What’s the best way to start a conversation with you?

A: You can always get me to talk about Canada because I’m from Canada. Anything Canada- or hockey-related I’ll jump in on.

Q: What prompted you to study law and pursue it professionally?

A: My dad was a lawyer. My older brother is a lawyer. My dad was never afraid to sort of cross-examine us at the dinner table in a good way, in a healthy way. I realized probably by eighth grade that I wanted to be a lawyer.

Q: What books are on your bedside table or e-reader?

A: Stacks of legal briefs, discovery responses or case evaluations. I typically fall asleep reading them and wake up pulling them off my bedside table.

Q: What is a pet peeve of yours?

A: Slow drivers and slow talkers.

Q: What are your favorite aspects of being an attorney?

A: Oral argument. When you get to stand up in court, that makes it fun. I like the relationships with my clients, my partners and the younger attorneys in my office.

Q: Least favorite?

A: I hate time sheets. They’re the worst.

Q: What’s a favorite activity outside your job?

A: I love traveling with my kids. It forces them to get off their phones and off the Xbox and PS4 and I’m trying to break away from work for however long I have to focus on them. I have a daughter and three boys. I like walking my dog, the one peaceful time I have.

Q: If someone visits you in your hometown, what would you take them to see or do?

A: My favorite part of the city is by the lakes; that’s what I focus on here. If they came to Toronto you’d have to see the CN Tower, one of tallest freestanding structures in the world. You’d have to go to Canada’s Wonderland, our version of Disney World. The Toronto Zoo is amazing. I’d say go to a Jays game, a Raptors game or a Leafs game.

Q: Is there an attorney or judge, past or present, whom you admire most?

A: Probably [the late] Richard Bowman, who founded Bowman and Brooke. He was an amazing trial lawyer, maybe the best I’ve ever seen.

Q: What’s a misconception people have about working as an attorney?

A: That we’re in trial all the time or that it takes a couple days to get to trial. On movies or TV programs there’s an issue and two days later you’re in trial. Truth is most cases settle. There’s a lot of work behind the scenes before you’re in trial. It takes a long time if you even get there ever.

Q: What is your favorite depiction of the legal professional in popular culture?

A: Probably my favorite movie would be “My Cousin Vinny.” It’s completely unrealistic, but it’s still great. I like “The Good Wife.” There was a time when I watched it and thought it was pretty relevant.

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