Remember that failure happens. It is part of the journey. - Mark Zekulin

Faculty of Law - Common Law Section
Common Law Section

By Common Law

Communication, Faculty of Law

Mark Zekulin
Alumnus and entrepreneur Mark Zekulin, LLB’07, may have encountered failure in his journey, but he has certainly experienced significant success.

He is a founding partner at The Greater Return, a mission-oriented private investment firm, and the Chairman of Invert Inc., an Ottawa-based company that funds and supports projects aimed at reducing or removing CO2 from the atmosphere. He is also the former President and CEO of Canopy Growth Corporation, one of Canada’s most successful startups over the past decade.

One of his recent success stories is the not-for-profit Happy Roots Foundation, created by Zekulin and his wife, Linsey Sherman-Zekulin, LLB ’07. As the past chair of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Ottawa, Zekulin believes that giving back to his community is very important, and the Happy Roots Foundation does just that by supporting early childhood mental health and well-being. He believes that early, one-on-one interventions make a difference and, in his words, “Everyone has something to offer.”

Fun fact about Zekulin: he never intended to be a lawyer! He says he chose to attend law school because it was an opportunity to gain knowledge and valuable new experiences. One of these experiences was an exchange to Iceland where he had the opportunity to learn about Icelandic law. Zekulin particularly enjoyed the diversity of curriculum where he studied Law of Armed Conflict, Icelandic Legal History, and the EU Directive on Data Protection.

When speaking about his time at the Faculty of Law, Common Law Section, Zekulin highlights the importance of interdisciplinary pursuits, curiosity, mentorship, and the benefits of building a diverse foundation, which is essential to help build skills necessary for an entrepreneurial career path.

He also recommends that law students get involved in startups while they are still in school. This provides a valuable opportunity to present yourself as someone with a versatile legal background, and not just as a lawyer. In his words, “Identify what you are passionate about and be willing to spend time helping a company grow…Get involved: show up and be helpful.”

When looking back at his earlier career, Zekulin remembers with gratitude the people who went out of their way to help him. The kindness and mentorship he received inspire him to give back and stay involved with the law community at uOttawa today. He finds it rewarding and enjoys coming back to campus to visit Fauteux and Father and Sons: “it brings back good memories.”

Zekulin recently participated in the Common Law Section’s “Oh, the Places You'll Go with a Law Degree” alongside fellow alumni Erin Cowling, LLB’04, and Neil Schwartz, LLB’10. The event took place during uOttawa’s Global Entrepreneurship Week, November 13-19, 2023.

When asked: What are some essential skills or attributes that you believe aspiring entrepreneurs should cultivate during their time in law school? The unanimous response was: “analytical thinking, critical analysis, and negotiation”.