SABA Spotlight Series – Ira Parghi
Ira Parghi is a partner at INQ Law (https://www.inq.law/iraparghi ) with over 20 years of experience practicing information law and health law.
Ira joined the board of SABA in 2022. She is a volunteer member of the Canadian Blood Services Research Ethics Board and a Chair of the University of Toronto Tribunal. She previously served on the boards of directors of the South Asian Legal Clinic of Ontario (SALCO) and the Gerstein Crisis Centre.
Ira was born and raised in Kamloops, BC and moved to Toronto for law school. Her parents are from Gujarat, India.
1. What drew you to the legal profession and particularly to information and health law?
Honestly, it was partly by process of elimination: I didn’t want to be a doctor or an engineer, so in my world that left me with only a few options. But I also felt a “pull” towards the law: I was interested in doing something analytical and with the potential to have a real impact on public policy and on people’s lives.
As a junior lawyer, I wanted a high-volume litigation practice where I could manage files on my own and get on my feet. A health law position came along, I gave it a try, and I loved it. And I often say, half jokingly, that this is the closest to practicing medicine that I will ever get.
Information law was something for which I was just in the right place at the right time. Ontario had just enacted a patient privacy statute and it made sense for me, as a junior associate, to become expert in it. Then I moved to the US and took on a job as a Corporate Privacy Officer at a large health system, and my privacy work took on a life of its own. And now I get to “ride the wave” of a lot of hot issues like big data, digital health, and artificial intelligence. I could not have predicted any of that when I started out.
2. If you weren’t a lawyer, what would you be?
I don’t know! Maybe a teacher. But that is tough, tough work. I think I would be looking for a way to monetize my knowledge of 80s song lyrics.
3. What do you enjoy about being part of the SABA Toronto board?
I know I will sound old when I say this. When I started in private practice, there were very few South Asian lawyers around. I am amazed by how far we have come in a relatively short time. But I have no illusions about how much remains to be done. Serving on the SABA Toronto board is an opportunity for me to try to give back, to support and mentor junior colleagues, to connect with the community and support pro bono initiatives, and to help raise the visibility of South Asian and other visible minority members of the bar. SABA Toronto members and my fellow directors are amazing: engaged, really committed, and doing amazing things professionally and outside of work. I love seeing what they are doing and learning from it.
4. What’s your favourite South Asian snack?
It’s hard to pick just one. I would say… an ice cold Limca and pav bhaji with a side of pani puri accompanied by aloo tiki and a chaser of uttapam.
5. What’s the best advice you have received?
To maintain a sense of humour about things. And to avoid rushing to judgment. Life is complicated. People are complicated. We should give each other the same grace we would want for ourselves.