Cheryl Foy’s membership renewal to the Canadian Bar Association and its subgroup for in-house lawyers, the Canadian Corporate Counsel Association, is coming up. The general counsel at Carleton University in Ottawa is very aware of this because there is a card on her desk serving as a constant reminder. The CCCA has been an important part of her life since 2005, when Foy started rising through the membership ranks, becoming treasurer, vice president, and eventually president of Canada’s oldest and largest organization serving corporate counsel.
|Illustration: Kim Rosen|
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|