It was a Canadian icon and global trailblazer, then it took a turn for the worse that reverberated around the world. The Nortel Networks Corp. insolvency will be one of the most protracted and complicated undertakings for all of the lawyers and financial professionals involved, but when it is finally resolved, it will indeed set a new model for multinational companies facing financial difficulty.
|Illustration: Victor Gad|
Toronto defence lawyer Howard Morton refers to the G20 summit in Toronto last June as “my weekend in Argentina.” He compares it to the oppression of a dictatorship and to what happened here 1970, when Pierre Trudeau’s federal Liberal government enacted the War Measures Act in the midst of the October Crisis, which made way for the arrests of 465 people. Yet he considers the Toronto summit, during which an estimated 1,170 were arrested, a far more troublesome event in Canadian history. “If you went down there blindfolded, and somebody took the blindfold off of you, you would never assume you were in Toronto,” says Morton, who assisted with bail hearings at a special court set up during the summit. “It was like an armed camp, and the police action was carried out as if it was a military operation.”
|Illustration: Kim Rosen|
|Illustration: Jeff Szuc|
In the course of five weeks last fall, four of Canada’s top 20 national law firms underwent significant facelifts by way of mergers. It began with a pair of firms joining forces to enhance the scale of their operations, continued with a firm linking up with a global powerhouse to expand its international presence, and ended with a fourth firm swallowing up a regional player to gain a foothold in one of Canada’s fastest-growing provincial economies. It will take years to determine the value of these moves by McMillan LLP and Lang Michener LLP, Ogilvy Renault LLP, and Miller Thomson LLP respectively. What is evident in the short term is that law firms are feeling pressure to solidify their position in the market as their global counterparts descend on Canada.
|Illustration: Dushan Milic|
In what may have been the biggest murder case of his career, criminal defence lawyer Michael Edelson had no opportunity to unsheathe his most potent weapon. Known for his ability to cripple key Crown witnesses with cutting cross-examination, Edelson struck no blows. His client, 47-year-old David Russell Williams, a former colonel in the Canadian air force and commander of the country’s largest airbase, took the remarkable step of pleading guilty to two charges of first-degree murder. “This plea was extraordinarily unusual because only a handful of people in Canada have ever pleaded to first-degree murder and he may be the first ever to plead to two first-degree murders,” says Edelson, a founding partner of Edelson Clifford D’Angelo Barristers LLP, a small Ottawa firm with a history of defending high-profile clients.
|Illustration: Dushan Millic|