With her expertise as a lawyer and registered pharmacist, it’s no wonder why Alice Tseng has been recognized as Toronto’s 2021 “Lawyer of the Year” in Cannabis Law. A partner at Smart & Biggar, Tseng has more than two decades of experience working with the pharmaceutical, cannabis, food, medical devices, and cosmetics industries.
Tseng is also recognized in Advertising and Marketing Law, Biotechnology Law, Health Care Law, and Privacy and Data Security Law. She believes that her expertise in multiple areas of law contributed to her receiving this award because of increasing convergence in different areas of law. One example where her knowledge of different practices is when she advises on direct-to-consumer testing; it requires knowledge not just in life sciences but also in privacy and advertising. Another example is when she’s advising on the advertising of edibles; it’s helpful to not only understand cannabis law but also food and advertising law.
“In my field, it’s not enough to know, for example, pharma law, marketing/advertising law, or privacy law in isolation since, with many issues, all these areas of law intersect,” Tseng said. “Likewise, expertise in multiple regulated industries (e.g. pharma, medical devices, cannabis, natural health products, food, alcohol) is very valuable since concepts, trends, and regulator approach in one industry often carry over to other industries.”
It’s not just one case she’s taken on that stands out to her; it’s the ones that challenge her that are the notable ones.
“With some cases, it is understood early on by all that it may be an uphill battle to achieve the result the client wants, but the client still wants to proceed and pursue the result nevertheless,” Tseng said. “My most memorable cases are those where not only have we succeeded despite the original expectations, but the result for Canada significantly exceeded what was obtained in other jurisdictions.”
But working with pharmaceutical companies isn’t always easy.
“Pharma is a major part of my practice, and conflicts are a challenging issue,” Tseng said. “We act for many clients in this space, including in adversarial matters, and are therefore precluded from acting for a number of other pharma companies due to conflicts.”
The industries she works with are highly regulated, which means there are constantly new laws and regulatory developments. This only makes it more rewarding to Tseng when she’s able to help a client move forward.
“It’s a great feeling after I’ve helped a client resolve an issue (with a regulator, competitor, or otherwise) or move a business idea forward,” she said. “I really enjoy making life easier for clients by helping them understand and navigate the regulatory landscape so they can achieve their goals most efficiently with the least amount of risk.”