It wasn’t too long ago that certain lawyers were extolling the benefits of boutique law firms. But four senior lawyers from Blake Cassels & Graydon LLP and a junior associate found out that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side.
In March 2010, Ron Mar, Craig Spurn, and Edmund Gill left Blakes and opened Venn Law in Calgary. They were later joined by Kurtis Bond and Chris McLelland. Venn was a corporate law boutique with an emphasis on tax law and oil and gas transactions and projects. “Venn’s business plan was heavily focused on the research, development, and implementation of innovative financially efficient structures for a target clientele,” says Spurn, who along with the other Venn partners has now joined McCarthy Tétrault LLP’s Calgary office.
Spurn says Venn’s greatest challenge was staying true to its specific business purpose in its day-to-day decision making and action taking. However, overcoming that challenge was their greatest success. “It allowed us to be efficient in making hard decisions along the way.”
But the hardest decision the Venn partnership had to make was to close shop. “Recent legislative developments proposed in this year’s federal budget impacted our strategy and forced us to make that decision,” says Spurn. After only one year in business, the lawyers at Venn decided they could better serve their clients through the platform provided by a large, integrated law firm rather than a small boutique.
On Monday, the Venn lawyers joined McCarthys, four as partners and one as an associate. “McCarthy Tétrault offers a platform that addresses all of the needs of our oil and gas clients in a rapidly changing and sophisticated market. McCarthys’ team members can provide highly specific advice in any area that our clients require particularly when involved in larger domestic and international projects.
The depth and quality of resources and expertise afforded by McCarthy in Calgary and across Canada is excellent. Being able to tap into those resources and expertise is critical to our clients who are increasingly making transactions in different jurisdictions and across different practice areas,” says Spurn.
Greg Turnbull, regional managing partner of McCarthys in Calgary, says the stature of Venn’s lawyers in the market, their expertise, and experience will be a great fit with its clients. “As partners at McCarthy, Venn’s lawyers will bring with them their existing client base, shared connections, and key contacts in the market. Like us, they understand our business isn’t only about law, it’s about relationships.”