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Marilyn Brown

February 16, 2023

David Thomas

Marilyn Brown, Partner at LXM Law, has over 20 years of experience practicing in the areas of public procurement, government contracting and municipal law. We spoke with her on how her career in procurement law began, advice for those heading into the field, and what students can expect at the upcoming Osgoode Certificate in Public Procurement Law: The Rules in Practice, of which she is the Program Director.

Can you talk a bit about how you got into this area of practice in the first place? What attracted you?

Honestly, it was a happy accident. I don’t recall learning anything about public procurement law in law school, so initially it wasn’t an area of practice I had any thought of pursuing.

I had always had an interest in working in the public sector, so I was fortunate to secure an articling position at the City of Toronto. I stayed on in the City’s Legal Division after articling and there was a growing demand for legal services from the Procurement Department. I quickly found myself immersed in the area and spent the next 10 years working very closely with the City’s procurement professionals.

The great thing about continuing in this area in private practice is that I’m still working to support the public sector, but with more variety in terms of being able to work with a wide range of different organizations across the country.

You have had great success in your career in the procurement field, both in government and in private practice. What advice would you give to someone who wants to go down this career path?

My best piece of advice would be to spend some time working in government. I think my success in private practice – where I continue to work almost exclusively with public sector clients – is due in large part to having had in-house government experience.

It would be very difficult to truly understand the “inner workings” of government entities without having worked within one. Having first-hand experience with navigating the bureaucracy and managing the sometimes tricky relationship between staff and elected officials allows me to better appreciate and address the unique challenges my clients face.

As Program Director of the Certificate in Public Procurement Law: The Rules in Practice, what type of learning experience should the students expect? 

First and foremost, students should expect a welcoming environment in which questions, interaction, and exchange of ideas will be encouraged. They can expect to learn about public procurement law from a practical perspective, with a primary focus on applying the rules and finding strategies and solutions for mitigating risks in real-world scenarios.

I’m hoping we can strike the right balance in delivering really comprehensive content at a comfortable and manageable pace. I want students to leave the course feeling confident and empowered, not anxious and overwhelmed.

What are you most looking forward to when the program starts in April?  

Mostly I’m looking forward to engaging with the students and working with the other faculty to bring all the materials we’re preparing to life in a way that’s meaningful and useful.

What trends do you foresee in procurement in the future, and what are the challenges going to be? 

Like so much else in our world, changes in procurement are being largely driven by technology and globalization. There will be an increasing need for flexibility in crafting strategic solutions to combat supply chain challenges and instability in the marketplace.

I think a trend that is already established and will continue to grow is the interest in sustainable procurement and the challenges of implementing policies that are both effective and respectful of trade agreement obligations. My hope is that there will be less emphasis on “local” in terms of physical location of a supplier, and more emphasis on suppliers’ commitments to environmentally and socially sustainable practices and products.

Want to know more about The Osgoode Certificate in Public Procurement Law: The Rules in Practice? Click here.