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Dickinson Wright expands Toronto presence

|Written By Gail J. Cohen

In the latest Canadian law firm merger move, mid-size Bay Street shop Aylesworth LLP is being folded into the Toronto affiliate of Michigan-based Dickinson Wright PLLC.

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Dickinson Wright has had a small Toronto presence for some time, with three Canadian-licensed lawyers but the firm wanted to “expand its footprint.” The new firm will be known as Dickinson Wright LLP and operate as a separate entity from the U.S. firm. The expanded Toronto affiliate will have about 25 lawyers and be located in Aylesworth’s Bay Street digs.

“Aylesworth and Dickinson Wright in Toronto entered into a practice combination agreement. It’s not an acquisition per se, it’s a combination of the practices,” said chief marketing officer Michelle Murad in an interview after the official announcement yesterday.

“This is an exciting move for all of us,” said Aylesworth's former managing partner Eric Kay in a press release. “Dickinson Wright offers a unique value proposition for talented, like-minded professionals; access to resources and expertise across the United States and Toronto, combined with an entrepreneurial spirit and approach to the marketplace. It’s a great fit for our clients and our people.”

The Toronto office will be managed by a team of lawyers and adminstrative staff, who will report into the firm’s U.S. CEO, said Murad. There won’t be a local managing partner.

“The Aylesworth firm, like Dickinson Wright, brings more than a century of professional excellence, and we are thrilled to have the Aylesworth lawyers join our existing team of accomplished lawyers in Ontario. We are highly aligned in our commitment to superior client service, professionalism, and broadening the areas of expertise that we offer to our expanding client base”, said Dickinson Wright CEO William Burgess.

Dickinson has five offices in Michigan — Detroit, Ann Arbor, Bloomfield Hills, Lansing, Grand Rapids — as well as ones in Las Vegas, Nashville, Phoenix, and Washington, D.C. It boasts clients such as Magna, Ford, Blue Cross.  “We do large Fortune 500 plus governmental units” as well, said Murad.

Talks to bring the two firms together had been going on over the course of 2010 and were facilitated by ZSA, she said.

Asked if the firm has its eyes on other Canadian locales, Murad would only say: “As far as right now, we are looking to extend our footprint. Our goal as a firm is that we can provide our clients with solutions across borders and states.”

The “combination” became official Jan. 1. You won’t even find anything anymore at Aylesworth’s web site (aylaw.com), not even a forward.


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