BLG hires former CBC GC as strategic adviser

Borden Ladner Gervais LLP has nabbed the former general counsel at CBC as strategic adviser and counsel in its securities and capital markets group.

Maryse Bertrand was general counsel and vice president, real estate services, legal services and corporate secretary at CBC/Radio-Canada from 2009 to 2015 and an M&A partner at Davies Ward Phillips & Vineberg LLP for 20 years before that.

Bertrand says that she was in discussions with a number of law firms after having just completed a Master of Science in risk management at New York University’s Leonard N. Stern School of Business this spring.

“It is all about the clientele that you have and the nature of the work that you have and BLG was the best fit,” she says.

She is looking to apply her knowledge of M&A that she acquired while in private practice in her new role, while also drawing on her experience in risk management and governance from the CBC.

“As general counsel at the CBC, I was very much in charge of risk management. I handled a fair amount of matters.” One of the high-profile matters Bertrand dealt with at the CBC was the Jian Ghomeshi scandal, as well as “a couple of less high-profile ones that were just as important for the organization.

“I enjoyed my time at the CBC, I spent almost six years there, so I really really enjoyed that. It gave me a whole lot of respect for public service. A lot of dedicated people who work very very hard for, compared to the private sector, less money, and sometimes frankly less recognition, so there are a lot of things to be done, there are a lot of challenges, and I like that.”

Bertrand left the CBC last year to complete her master’s degree, and having advised on governance while sitting on a number of company boards in her time at the CBC, she says she “decided that I would pursue that on a full-time basis as opposed to doing that part-time.”

While at the CBC, Bertrand was responsible for three business units: real estate and health, safety and environment portfolios of CBC/Radio-Canada in Canada and abroad, the legal department with offices in Montréal, Toronto and Ottawa and the Corporate Secretariat. She chaired the CBC’s national crisis committee and managed compliance with access to information and privacy laws.

In fact, managing crisis seems to be a theme throughout her career. Bertrand says the financial crisis was partly what prompted her to leave her private M&A practice in 2009 at Davies to join the CBC, as she guessed the work would not be as interesting in the short term.

“In terms of M&A work, you can only imagine that it was pretty boring [post-crisis] as compared to the previous 10, 15 years that had been absolutely amazing. My assessment at the time, which I think was probably right on, was that it would take many many years for things to actually come back to any sort of interesting level.”

With her experience at the CBC managing crisis and her masters in risk management, she anticipates advising BLG clients on governance as well as traditional M&A.

Bertrand says risk management is a new growth area.

“From a governance point of view, being a corporate director is getting professionalized, if I can put it that way. Shareholders, institutional investors, are asking more of corporate directors, quite rightfully [so]. They are asking them to be more proficient, to focus more on a number of more strategic areas, compensation being one of them, but risk is also very much at the forefront since the [financial] crisis in particular.”

“It is a pleasure to welcome Maryse to the firm,” said Sean Weir, BLG’s national managing partner and CEO, in a press release. “She has successfully advised private and public companies on a broad range of corporate issues with outstanding commitment to client service. Her impressive track record is an inspiration for senior leadership and rising stars.”

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