by deirdre Kelly
Canadian clothing designers and retailers have an invaluable accessory in Ashlee Froese (LLB ’06), an Osgoode Hall grad and certified trademark specialist for the Canadian fashion industry.
Working in fashion law, a relatively new division of the legal profession, Froese advises her clients on everything from contract negotiations and intellectual property disputes to their supply chain management systems, international expansion plans and efforts to stamp out illegal counterfeits of their creative work.
“There seems to be an idea with fashion that, because it’s so functional, it shouldn’t be afforded the same intellectual property protection as other industries,” says Froese, current Chair of the City of Toronto’s Fashion Industry Advisory Panel. “I’m fighting against that idea and trying to help fashion brands build themselves up.”
People are noticing. In 2021, Froese received World
Intellectual Property Review’s Diversity award as an
Influential Woman in IP, one of only 69 lawyers worldwide. In 2022, she emerged as a finalist in the Female Trailblazer of the Year category at the Canadian Law Awards.
Froese developed an insurgent attitude at Osgoode Hall Law School, taking a keen interest in intellectual property law as part of her legal studies. Active in student government, she interned with the United Nations in the Middle East before returning to Toronto to work part-time at an intellectual property law firm. She joined it full-time after being called to the bar in 2007 and fast-tracked to partner within six years.
In 2017, after a decade working on Bay Street, she opened Froese Law, a woman-owned boutique firm specializing in branding, corporate, commercial and intellectual property law. Froese recently added Internet, technology and e-commerce law to her range of legal services, making her sought-after by people working in fashion, cosmetics and recreational cannabis, among other pop-culture industries.
“We are paperless, on the cloud, and our business cards are made from recycled clothing fabric,” Froese says. “We really are trying to modernize the approach for our clients.” ■