As part of the transition, which was initially announced last November, 15 legal professionals including four partners in the Goodmans Vancouver office are now part of MLT, as well as all staff.
The partners include Paul Goldman, Bruce Wright, Steve Robertson and Jonathan O’Connor.
The Vancouver group is operated and managed independently from Goodmans LLP. The transition was effective Jan. 1, 2015.
Don Wilson, managing partner of MLT, tells Legal Feeds the firm was looking to expand to British Columbia and the time was right for both MLT and the Goodmans Vancouver team.
“We’ve been looking at some way of getting into the B.C. marketplace but wanted it to involve people who shared our same culture and have the same goals and are sophisticated practitioners. These people have done a lot of big deals and haven’t made their living doing house deals,” he says.
“The jungle tom toms being what they are we were kind of aware that maybe Vancouver wasn’t vital to Goodmans’ plans and the Vancouver guys were interested in becoming part of something more Western Canadian and they knew we are always out there trolling,” says Wilson. “It’s not always appreciated but what’s made us strong as a firm comes back to the resources so huge in Saskatchewan — whether uranium, potash, oil and gas. The whole resource sector – this is essentially what’s driven the work for this Vancouver office. There’s also a ton of investment in resource sector in Saskatchewan that now comes from Asia. There are synergies there we think we can build on.”
Wilson says there are no immediate plans for further expansion but admits Manitoba is “not beyond possibility.” “Do we always have our antenna up? You bet. We’ve been pleased with what’s happened for us in Alberta and we’re confident in B.C.”
“We’ve always adopted the philosophy of assessing every opportunity that comes along,” says Wilson. “Right now our vision, since we moved to Alberta 12 years ago, is to create a truly Western Canadian firm that was only in Western Canada but throughout it so when this opportunity came along it was frankly a good fit for everybody. We’ve always had a good working relationship with Goodmans and I don’t think the Vancouver office was core to their plans going forward. The Vancouver guys who were skilled lawyers were feeling orphaned on the coast and away from Bay Street and wanted to be part of something that feels more central to Western Canada.”
“Given the regional focus shared by both MLT and our friends in Vancouver, this is a sensible and highly strategic fit,” said Dale Lastman, chairman of Goodmans LLP in a statement. “Goodmans has a longstanding relationship with MLT, independent of the relationship between the Vancouver office and ourselves. We look forward to continuing our relationship with MLT and our Vancouver colleagues at their new firm.”
MLT is a firm of 120 lawyers serving clients across Western Canada from offices in Regina, Saskatoon, Calgary, Edmonton and now Vancouver. The firm has been practising in the West since 1920.
Update Jan. 7: Comments from Wilson added.