US firm Mintz’s Toronto entry about expanding cross-border opportunities: Mitch Frazer

Firm establishing Toronto office with three Torys partners, one from Dentons

US firm Mintz’s Toronto entry about expanding cross-border opportunities: Mitch Frazer
Lee Johnson, Mitch Frazer, Cheryl Reicin, Eric Foster, and Michael Akkawi.

The US law firm, Mintz, is expanding into Canada, with a plan to bolster its global practices in life sciences, private equity, capital markets, and pensions and employment.

The founding team of the firm’s Toronto office will include Michael Akkawi, Cheryl Reicin, and Mitch Frazer, from Torys; and Eric Foster, joining from Dentons. Dr. Lee Johnson, a US lawyer who has practised in New York and San Diego at Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, will also help lead the Toronto office.

Canadian companies are increasingly entering the US market, and the four practice pillars leading Mintz’s foray into Canada are “cross border in nature,” says Frazer, whose practice focuses on pensions, benefits, and employment, and will serve as managing member of Mintz’s Toronto office.

“There’s much more cross-border work than there was before, and those areas are leading the way,” he says.

Mintz’s Canadian team will number 20 lawyers by the end of the month, 50 by year’s end, and the firm plans to eventually build the office up to 75 lawyers, says Frazer.

“It's also a fully integrated firm. We're one firm, not a Canadian firm and a US firm. We're a global firm. It allows the services to happen seamlessly,” he says.

To provide clients the best service, helping them operate their businesses across the continent, Mintz was the right platform, Frazer adds.

In Mintz’s new Canadian branch, Reicin will be the international chair of the life sciences practice. She represents companies in biotech, medical devices, and other health technology, as well as venture capitalists, investment banks, and academic medical centres.

Akkawi advises private equity funds, pension funds, and strategic investors in transactions and investment activities.

Foster is an M&A lawyer advising on capital markets transactions in Canada and internationally. He represents issuers and underwriters on public offerings and private placements in life sciences, cannabis, mining, and technology. He also acts for foreign and domestic acquirers, targets, special committees, boards of directors and investment banks.

In the background of Mintz’s Canadian entry, says Frazer, capital markets are currently making a comeback, and private equity and life sciences are “two massive growth areas.”

“This is a very unique opportunity, at the end of the day,” he says. “This is not a slight against Torys because we didn't leave Torys; we went to Mintz.”

“Clearly, there's a synergetic meeting of the minds here. We’ve all been at Torys for a very long time. We think it's a great firm. But this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to really change the face of law in Canada, and to provide unparalleled service for clients.”

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