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Group moves of Heenan lawyers continue

|Written By Jennifer Brown

Big Law firms continued to strike deals with former Heenan Blaikie LLP lawyers this week in Toronto, Ottawa, and Montreal as the much-admired labour and employment group continued to be split up as well as some of the commercial litigators.

Fasken Martineau DuMoulin LLP announced Tuesday the addition of five Heenan Blaikie LLP lawyers to the firm’s Toronto office. Brian Burkett, Douglas Gilbert, John Craig, Mathias Link and Sarah Graves will join the firm’s labour, employment & human rights group as partners.

Brian Burkett has practised exclusively in the area of management labour relations and employment law since 1978. His clients are in the private and public sector where he has provided “strategic input on the development of labour and employment law policy.” Douglas Gilbert’s practice is focused on work on behalf of employers in the federal and provincial sectors. John Craig practises exclusively in the area of labour, employment and pensions law particularly in cross-border and international labour matters. Mathias Link’s practice focuses on federal and provincial sector employers in employment, labour and human rights matters. Sarah Graves represents private and public employers and academic institutions.

On Wednesday afternoon, Baker & McKenzie said 13 lawyers formerly with Heenan Blaikie in will join the firm’s Toronto office.  Led by Partners Kevin Rooney and Sonia Yung, the group augments the firm's corporate & securities, tax, and banking & finance practices.

“This is an exceptional group that bolsters our already strong practices in Toronto and further positions Baker & McKenzie as the premier global law firm in Canada,” said Eduardo Leite, Chairman of the Firm's Executive Committee

Other partners joining Baker & McKenzie include Peter Clark, Ilia Danef, Charles MacCready, and Corey MacKinnon.  These lawyers have provided strategic legal advice to companies in a range of industries, including the mining, financial services, life sciences, information technology, communications and manufacturing sectors.  The group will also include two paralegals and others.

Also Wednesday McCarthy Tétrault LLP announced two more Heenan lawyers moving over. Frederico Marques joined the firm’s Toronto office as a partner in the mining group. Marques is a Brazilian lawyer and a foreign legal consultant in Canada, recognized for his expertise in international transactions. Associate Steven Molnar, who has a diverse business law practice, also joins the Toronto team.

Gowlings also announced Tuesday a team of eight bilingual commercial litigation lawyers has joined its Ottawa office.

Pierre Champagne, who was the associate director of Heena’s Ottawa office,  civil and commercial litigator Benoit M. Duchesne, civil litigator Rodrigue Escayola, and Louis-Pierre Grégoire, who focuses construction law and civil litigation, all join Gowlings as partners, while Julie Paquette, Catherine Bélair-Noel, Stefan Kimpton and Jocelyn Duquette join the firm as associates.

Complementing the team are six new support staff members and two articling sudents, who will complete their final months of their articles at Gowlings.

Dentons Canada LLP announced Monday that former Prime Minister Jean Chrétien would be calling the firm home and is also reported to be taking 23 more Heenan lawyers from the Toronto and Montreal offices — lawyers thought to have been part of the group that was negotiating the failed deal with DLA Piper.

There was also news from Borden Ladner Gervais LLP that Dan Palayew has joined BLG as a partner and regional leader of the Ottawa labour and employment group and a group of 12 labour and employment lawyers will be joining the firm’s Montreal office. In addition to doubling the size of the practice group for the Montreal office, the group will also expand the scope of labour and employment for BLG.

“In our view they are very much market leaders,” says John Murphy, regional managing partner of BLG’s Montreal office. “Heenan Blaikie was very well known as market leaders in labour and employment and we’re pleased to have them in the firm. I’m glad they chose BLG — it’s really a badge of honour for us as well. Being a good lawyer transcends whatever law firm you’re with.”

Murphy referenced several “very strong clients” in Montreal the Heenan partners have and said there is “an expectation their clients are going to be very loyal to the expertise” the lawyers from Heenan have provided over the years.

He also referenced a “synergy” of client lists as BLG already has some of their clients for other business.

They are also welcoming several associates, assistants and an articling student.

“It’s a good mix of senior to junior lawyers. They didn’t just take the two partners responsible for the clients,” says Murphy. “I think it’s the right way to go and inspires confidence they will gel very well in the practice group as it is right now.”

In terms of how BLG, a firm with more than 750 lawyers, approaches business in the wake of the Heenan Blaikie collapse, Murphy agrees clients want a different kind of law firm and points to the firms’s BLG Adroit [http://www.blg.com/en/aboutblg/blgadroit] project management program as an example.

“Our clients are looking for the very best value for services and one of the innovative tools we have is the BLG Adroit. We’ve been told by consultants and clients they like what we’re saying about project management and process management and we’ve rolled it out to corporate counsel across the country,” he says.

The lawyers joining BLG in Montreal include:

• Stuart Aronovitch

• Robert Bonhomme

• Alexandre W. Buswell

• Shawn Connelly

• Frédéric Desmarais

• Corrado De Stefano

• Michael D. Grodinsky

• Chantal Lamarche

• Danny J. Kaufer

• Frédéric Massé

• Myriane Le François

• Maryse Tremblay

Last week, labour and employment boutique Mathews Dinsdale & Clark LLP welcomed  four partners from Heenan.  Occupational health and safety lawyers Cheryl A. Edwards and Jeremy Warning, labour-management negotiator Greg McGinnis, human rights and labour and employment lawyer Sonia Regenbogen.

The fate of dozens of other Heenan lawyers is still to be determined. Stay tuned.

Update 4:10 pm: Baker & McKenzie added.

  • Legal Assistant

    Jackie Steele
    It is gratifying to hear that many legal assistants and other staff from Heenan Blaikie have been given the opportunity to move to new firms with their lawyers. Their organizational skills, client and file knowledge may not be viewed as valuable an asset as an actual "book of business", but no doubt their lawyers will be grateful for the continuity of having someone familiar around who knows the work and the lawyers' routines. Thank you for acknowledging everyone who contributes within our legal community.

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