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GC Powerlist > GC Powerlist: Canada
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For 29 years, The Legal 500 has been analysing the capabilities of law firms across the world. The GC Powerlist is the latest publication from The Legal 500, turning its attention to the in-house function, and recognising those corporate counsel who are driving the legal business forward. The latest edition is the GC Powerlist: Canada, which identifies an array of the most influential and innovative in-house counsel working in those two jurisdictions...read more
We have canvassed opinions from law firm partners and in-house counsel across Canada, to identify corporate counsel that have been instrumental in changing or forming opinions within their company or industry; developing brilliant technical solutions to complex issues; creating innovative structures to ensure that the in-house function is driving the business forward; or providing a business working model that other corporate counsel should follow. Our team of experienced researchers assessed the nominations, speaking both to general counsel and nominating lawyers to finalise each list. GC Powerlist: Canada features not just information on why that individual has made the list, but also comment from those in-house lawyers about how they have helped shape innovation in the legal industry.
If you have feedback on the GC Powerlist: Canada, or wish to nominate other in-house individuals (either in Canada or global), please do get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We hope that this listing will stimulate debate around the role of the in-house lawyer and help corporate counsel with possible improvements and efficiencies in running their departments.
GC Powerlist: Canada
(listed in alphabetical order; click on an individual to view an expanded biography)
Executive vice president and general counsel
Alderon Iron Ore Corp.
Chief legal and regulatory officer
Chief legal officer, secretary and compliance manager
Mercedes-Benz Financial Services Canada & Mercedes-Benz Canada
Senior vice president, head of legal
General counsel and vice president legal and business development
Chief legal and regulatory and executive vice president corporate development
Bell Canada and BCE
General counsel - Canada
Vice president, general counsel and corporate secretary
E-L Financial Corporation
Senior vice president, legal and external affairs
Capital Power Corporation
Vice president, corporate services
Canadian National Railway Company
Vice president, legal affairs
Regional general counsel, Americas
Boart Longyear Canada
Vice president, legal and external affairs and general counsel
CISCO Systems Canada
Vice president, general counsel and corporate secretary
Executive vice president and general counsel
Executive vice president and general counsel
Vice president and general counsel
World Vision Canada
Agnes Di Leonardi
General counsel, corporate secretary and director
Vice president and deputy general counsel
Barrick Gold Corporation
Vice president and chief legal and risk officer
The Hospital for Sick Children
Director, corporate legal
Oxford Properties Group
Executive vice president corporate services and chief legal officer
Canadian National Railway Company
Bank of Montreal
Deputy general counsel and secretary
Pacific Exploration and Production Company
Senior vice president and general counsel
Ontario Power Generations
Executive vice president, legal affairs and general counsel
Vice president and general counsel
assistant general counsel
Kiewit Canada Corp.
Senior vice president, chief compliance officer and general counsel
Executive vice president, legal
Vice president, corporate and legal
Senior vice president, corporate development, governance and general counsel
Executive vice president, regulatory and legal services
General counsel and corporate secretary
Chief legal officer and vice president, emergency management
General counsel, chief compliance officer and corporate secretary
Vice president, legal
General counsel and corporate secretary
Turquoise Hill Resources
Vice president, general counsel
LG Electronics Canada
Chief legal officer and public affairs
Sun Life Financial
Vice president, legal affairs and corporate secretary
General counsel and corporate secretary
Alberta Electric System Operator
Senior vice president, general counsel and corporate secretary
Senior vice president, general counsel and public affairs
Bombardier Recreational Products
Executive vice president and general counsel
General counsel, compliance officer, corporate secretary and member of the board of directors
General counsel, corporate secretary
First Quantum Minerals
Vice president, general counsel
Brookfield Energy Marketing
Executive vice president and general counsel
General counsel and corporate secretary
Vice president, general counsel and corporate secretary
Vice president legal affairs and corporate secretary
Senior vice president, general counsel and secretary
EDF EN Canada
Vice president, general counsel and corporate secretary
Vector Aerospace Corporation
General counsel and corporate secretary
Winnipeg Airports Authority
General counsel and corporate secretary
Chief legal officer and secretary
Executive vice president, general counsel and secretary
CI Financial Corp
General counsel and corporate secretary
Senior vice president and general counsel and secretary
Vice president, legal services
Senior vice president and general counsel
Executive vice president, corporate development and strategy and chief risk officer
Royal Bank of Canada
Dow Chemical Canada
Chief counsel, M&A
Royal Bank of Canada
Senior director, legal
The Home Depot Canada
Executive vice president, general counsel
Director of legal affairs
President and general counsel
Senior vice president, commercial and legal affairs
Vice president, general counsel and secretary
Vice president, legal and chief privacy officer
Vice president, corporate services, corporate secretary
Vice president, general counsel
Chief legal officer
Executive vice president legal and commercial services and corporate secretary
Vice president, general counsel and corporate secretary
Managing director, legal
OMERS Private Equity
Vice president and general counsel, America and Asia
Iovate Health Sciences International
Dream Unlimited Corp
Pacific Exploration and Production Corp
Chris von Boetticher
Vice president, general counsel and secretary
Senior vice president and general counsel
HSBC Bank Canada
Chief legal officer, corporate director and secretary
Olen Aasen has been general counsel and corporate secretary at Alderon Iron Ore Corp since September 2012. Specialising in corporate and securities law, he began his career as an associate in the securities and business law group of a top-tier Canadian law firm where he gained significant experience with respect to public companies, capital markets, securities laws and the natural resources sector. He obtained his J.D. from the University of British Columbia and is a member of the British Columbia Bar. Before attending law school, Aasen completed his undergraduate studies in the finance program at the University of British Columbia’s Sauder School of Business, giving him a strong financial perspective. Alderon Iron Ore Corp has faced issues in the past with arranging financing amid difficult market conditions. Construction of a mine was scheduled to begin in 2014, but was postponed due to these factors. Nonetheless Aasen has managed to exceed expectations and become a market-leading general counsel in his region able to negotiate effectively and rationally.
After assuming his position as chief legal and regulatory officer at the telecommunications company TekSavvy Solutions, Bram Abramson formed a functional legal department practically from scratch, hiring all lawyers and defining the scope of the department’s activities. Abramson pulled legal, regulatory and government relations work in-house, while slicing up legal and regulatory work to be done in a way that would allow new hires to be effective and to maintain a high level of enthusiasm and internalise expertise. ‘I did that by orienting our work around our company’s agreements’, Abramson explains, ‘and dividing things up into three domains: commercial agreements, consumer agreements, and regulated agreements’. Upon joining the company in March 2014, Abramson identified privacy as a key vector for TekSavvy Solutions and its customers. He says: ‘Our organisation lives and dies based on the trust that its customers place in it. When I joined, I made maintaining and extending TekSavvy’s privacy reputation a key priority. We were the first Canadian telecommunications company to issue a “transparency report”, and have been twice ranked as Canada’s most pro-privacy ISP’. Among a number of achievements in his career, Abramson takes particular pride in his accomplishment to establish a successful public policy and regulatory ‘voice’ by intervening regularly in public proceedings.
After obataining law degrees that permitted him to practice in both English Canada and Quebec, Richard Adams gained an MBA from Rotman University to improve his business understanding. Adams originally joined Daimler AG in 1989 and has been with the company for 26 years, always as their lead in-house counsel in Canada. Most of his time has been primarily focused on work for Mercedes-Benz Financial Services. Working as sole counsel, along with a paralegal and an executive legal assistant, Adams is well integrated into the company’s operations, participating in every social and community relations function, and engaging with the CEO and the other senior managers as a full member of the senior leadership team. One of Adams’ biggest professional victories has been winning a case at the Supreme Court of Canada in 2004, DaimlerChrysler Services Canada Inc. vs. Jean-Francois Lebel, where the company triumphed due to well formulated arguments and Adams’ ability to withstand pressure to settle by pushing ahead with litigation. Adams has also used litigation as a sword to change the law in British Columbia to restore full deficiency rights to creditors. One of the most difficult moments in Adams’ career was navigating through the merger of Mercedes-Benz and Chrysler. The nature of the legal work, the volume of transactions, and the methods both companies used to document transactions underwent radical change. ‘It was immensely challenging to manage the change and win over colleagues at both companies but we did’, Adams says.
Highly experienced in transactional law, Eric Adelson first became general counsel at the age of just 36, following his involvement in many unique, innovative products. Earlier in his career, while working at McKenzie Corporation in Toronto, he was one of the people responsible for the creation of the first synthetic bond fund. In his present role as head of legal at Invesco Canada, Adelson recently finished work on an entirely new trading platform for mutual funds. Adelson is also known for his impact on regulatory reform: sitting on a plethora of industry committees, he navigates Invesco Canada through ever changing regulatory landscape. From a practical point of view Adelson is responsible for the internalisation of a lot of the work that was previously outsourced to law firms and has specialised his lawyers in necessary fields. ‘As a result, people get a better sense of who they get in touch with for specific questions and also so that these people could answer these questions better,’ Adelson clarifies. Reporting directly to the CEO of the parent company Invesco Ltd., he sits on the executive committee and participates in all strategic discussions of the Canadian subsidiary. More recently his legal team has been able to contribute more actively to the company’s strategic direction by trying to do more work that comes out of the ‘back office’.
Angela Avery’s legal career started in 1994 at the internationally recognised Canadian law firm Bennett Jones. After nearly five years at the firm and a one year spell in the legal secretariat of the United Nations, Avery made her move in-house, joining ConocoPhillips Canada. Avery currently combines her responsibilities at the helm of the Canadian legal function at the international oil giant with business development responsibilities. The commercial mindset this requires encourages Avery to constantly think about the implication of legal decisions on the commercial successes of business. Avery and her team provide a diverse oversight on legal and compliance matters, execute acquisitions and divestitures, manage arctic and other frontier assets and advise on corporate strategy and business plans. Avery has overseen several significant transactions including a major conventional disposition program in 2015, oil sands divestments in 2010 and 2013 and a corporate restructuring in 2012. Her previous in-house experience includes regulatory law at TransCanada Pipelines and litigating war reparations at the United Nations Compensation Commission.
Tracey Beaudoin started her tenure at Packers Plus Energy in 2009 when the company was on a mandate to fuse industry expertise with the ability to build a legal team. Packers Plus had called for a legal innovator and, in hiring Beaudoin, that is what they got. For the last six years Beaudoin has given structured guidance and now expects all lawyers to pick up issues and solve them independently. Her role has enabled the business to be nimble and responsive to business requests. She adds that ‘legal is not a place where issues go to die like other companies, we rarely say “no”. We find ways for our client to do what they need to do in the confines of legal as an enabling department’. When asked about the highlights of her career Beaudoin discusses a strategy that will be rolled out alongside senior management: ‘We partnered with external folks to monetise IP and it is bearing fruit already. It’s going to be a great plan and we can’t wait to see how it unfolds. It will take place over the next five years. It is unique in our industry and the way we’re going about it is unique’. Beaudoin says that to be good at what she does she has to communicate effectively on a proactive and large scale: ‘I get out of the office and see what’s going on to see how others are solving problems. Often this is done by sharing my own experiences and speaking at various conferences’. Beaudoin has been a speaker at various events and recently discussed the effect of rising patent litigation claims upon innovation, touching on topics related to technology players within oil sands and the effect of patent litigation on the region’s hydrocarbons industry innovation. She stresses the importance of knowledge exchange in the field: ‘I have to be willing to pass on knowledge and learn from others especially other in-house counsel’. Beaudoin acknowledges that the oil field business is for tough skinned people and she takes pride in succeeding in a field that is often described as a ‘man’s world’ and admits that even though it is really challenging and extremely tough, ‘the more support you have externally and internally the better you are to do your job’.
Mirko Bibic is chief legal and regulatory and executive vice president, corporate development at Bell Canada, the largest communications company in Canada. He is described as ‘extremely loyal’, ‘innovative’ and ‘fair-minded’ by the legal community. Bibic is a principal member of the Bell executive management team, and participates in executive level decision-making on key business issues with legal, corporate development, regulatory and government affairs. With his previous tenure as the managing partner at Stikeman Elliott he is praised by his peers all round for his business acumen, legal skill, policy depth, innovation, creativity and respect from within the Canadian legal and business community. He is responsible for the development of Bell’s positions, and is a primary witness for Bell, in all major telecommunications and broadcasting proceedings before the CRTC, as well as before parliamentary and senate committees. Bibic has established himself as not only one of the most experienced and valuable Bell senior executives, but also has come to be recognised as one of the preeminent communications industry leaders on an extensive range of matters related to public policy, corporate development and regulation. As an invaluable asset to the company he has played a critical role in all major Bell investment and acquisitions, since 2008. His involvement in many of the community activities supported by Bell hasn’t gone unnoticed, and reflect an approach to community involvement that is important to Bibic. A source notes: ‘Bibic’s energy, and leadership abilities are highly respected. He has an ability to engender extremely strong loyalty, respect and camaraderie both within his teams and outside of Bell, as well’.
The multinational conglomerate Siemens has a significant presence in Canada with 4,500 employees and annual revenue of CAD$3bn. Richard Brait has successfully lead the legal and compliance groups for the past seven years and has been active in the leadership of Siemens’ business development initiatives. Apart from providing ongoing legal support of the highest quality and leading a cohesive legal unit, Brait is recognised for his immense contribution to the commercial success of Siemens in Canada. In 2009, he served in a three-person interim Office of the CEO and in 2013 was a finalist for the Business Achievement Award at the Canadian General Counsel Awards. Brait’s past experience includes working as a partner at the Canadian corporate law firm Stikeman Elliott, where he was in charge of the global technology unit. Prior to that he spent a decade at Nortel Networks, where he established and ran its intellectual property business, alongside his role as general counsel. More recently, Brait served as general counsel at the semiconductor technology corporation ATI Technologies, where He rolled out structural improvements to the department in the form of improvements to the corporate governance systems and redesign of business processes for Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) compliance. In addition, he made his mark to the commercial side of the business, by playing a lead role by implementing the process by which senior management and the board evaluated the corporation’s strategic alternatives led the negotiation of ATI’s merger agreement with AMD. Following ATI’s merger with AMD, Brait became chief administrative officer of AMD’s Canada operations and coordinated the company’s strategy in the region.
Richard Carty currently serves as secretary, vice president and general counsel of E-L Financial Corp. He wear several hats at once as he also serves as corporate secretary of United Corporations and Economic Investment Trust. Prior to this role he served as vice president of Empire Life Insurance Company, a subsidiary of E-L Financial Corporation. Carty held a number of positions with Empire Life from 1997 to 2005, including vice president of human resources and corporate secretary. He has also taken on the role of director of Algoma Central, which he has held since September 2010.
Kate Chisholm, named one of Canada’s Top 100 Most Powerful Women by the Women’s Executive Network, has led Capital Power’s legal, regulatory and compliance, government relations and external affairs teams since July 2009 as the company’s senior vice president. She has played a pivotal role in Capital Power’s restructuring and had substantial contribution towards the initial public offering that initiated the company’s creation. She is the legal mind behind the significant and successful commercial negotiations for Capital Power, including leading the legal and regulatory teams involved in the acquisition of a 50% interest in the Shepard Energy Centre. She also took a guiding role in the development and construction of four wind farms, and the sale of Capital Power’s interest in three New England plants. Between 2004- 2009, and prior to her role at Capital Power, Chisholm served as EPCOR’s senior vice president, general counsel and corporate secretary. In 2015 she was appointed as a member of the Alberta Securities Commission, due to her expert counsel in an array of electric utility hearings, including those arising from the restructuring of the Alberta electricity industry. Outside of her legal scope, Chisholm takes an interest in initiatives for women across the region, with a focus on encouraging talent and diversity. Her exceptional and proactive contribution sees her serve on the International Women’s Forum and creating the MORE mentoring program for high potential young professional women in Edmonton. Furthermore, she was one of the founding members of the group Legal Leaders for Diversity, an organisation of Canadian general counsel who support and promote diversity and inclusion within the legal sphere. In 2014, Chisholm received a KPMG Professional Award in recognition of women who are professionals in practice who play a leadership role, and received a Women in Leadership Award for Leadership in her profession from the Canadian Law Institute.
Olivier Chouc started his career at Norton Rose Fulbright as a corporate lawyer. After a brief time in the forest industry in 1998 he was approached by Canadian National Railway (CN), eventually taking charge of the M&A practice at the company. In 2006, he was promoted to an assistant vice president position and was later promoted to his current position of vice president, law. With 40 legal employees that report into him, over the last 10 years Chouc has done all he can to facilitate processes within the office. He has automated numerous processes over the last 10 years (including records management, e-discovery, contract management, insurance management, FCPA, and virtual office). He also takes pride in insuring the legal team has a good grasp of the dynamics of the business: ‘I believe developing a new breed of lawyers with strong business acumen has had the deepest and most lasting impact. Our lawyers have become trusted advisors to the business units they represent. They are brought in early because our clients recognise the value they bring in defining the business opportunity, not only in managing its legal aspects’. Chouc has taken a guiding role in a number of significant acquisitions that have shaped CN in the last 15 years. The support his team provides the marketing group in developing the business in a demanding regulatory environment, says Chouc, was also very significant. Chouc is also known for his involvement with charitable organisations, specifically The Ted Nolan Foundation, Fondation Marie-Vincent, and the Fondation Enfants-Retour. In 2005, he was named one of Canada’s Top 40 under 40 In-House Counsel by the National Post.
Daniele Chouinard has been vice president, legal affairs for Hydromega Services – an industry leader in the development, construction, financing and operation of independent renewable energy facilities in Quebec and Ontario – since 2005. Prior to Chouinard’s appointment, Hydromega had worked exclusively with external counsel. As the company grew and its legal needs multiplied, the board decided to look for someone who could develop a robust legal function rather than an industry veteran. Within a remarkably short time frame, Chouinard found herself adept at negotiating commercial terms and conditions with third parties that in turn allowed Hydromega to dedicate its resources to business development. Prior to her career in the renewable energy sector, Chouinard was corporate counsel for over 18 years at various commercial real estate firms in Montreal. Chouinard displays an array of talent in multiple industries as she has also completed the real estate broker agency executive officer’s qualifications, with the Organisme d’autoréglementation du courtage immobilier du Québec (OACIQ) in Quebec. Chouinard says the range of issues she oversees is one of the highlights of her job. ‘I love the diversity of my work; which I believe is an attribute of a corporate counsel for a firm the size of Hydromega. I am able to transact in numerous and varied legal fields while also having the ability to work in collaboration with the finest external attorneys, themselves specialists in their own fields, and from whom I continually learn’. Chouinard is praised both internally and by peers for her diligence and outstanding dedication to her team. One source noted that she has, from day one, shown ‘tremendous initiative and autonomy in dealing with the numerous challenges and potential issues that have arisen. We rarely witness someone with as much dedication to her work as she has displayed over the years she has been with us’. She takes pride in the fact that she has been an integral part of Hydromega’s growth into one of the most respected companies within the renewable energy sector. She has used her effective communication skills and legal expertise to raise awareness among the company’s employees at various levels to ensure that employees involved in a specific sector understand the importance of working with consistent and up-to-date agreements, all the while taking into account legislation in force and the direction of company’s management.
A highly ambitious and target-oriented lawyer, Robert Closner is widely recognised in Canadian in-house legal circles for his strong work ethic. Following his graduation with a J.D. qualification from Queen’s University, Closner started his career at the largest full service firm in Canada, Borden Ladner Gervais, where he practiced for two years. After that point, Closner has spent almost all of his career in-house, initially working for several different companies on a part time basis, before joining Toronto-based company, Ivernia. After three challenging years there, Closner was recruited by the global metals and mining business, Boart Longyear, where he has been working to this date. His initial responsibilities included legal support of the company’s Canadian operations, but in less than a year Closner was asked to take up some additional responsibilities for Latin America, where he had to do important rebuilding work within the structure of the company. Following a corporate restructuring that saw the division of Boart Longyear into four regions, Closner became regional general counsel initially for North America, and since 2015 for the entire Americas region. Perhaps the most significant professional challenge in Closner’s career has been to change the way in which the business of Boart Longyear perceives legal: ‘My goal has always been to make legal be viewed as a partner to the business and not as a hindrance’, he explains. ‘I’ve always thought that the more legal is viewed as a business partner, the less likely are we to have issues. If people see the legal department as being a roadblock and they are starting to try and go around the department and try to deal with issues on their own, then you only find out about issues that are of a much larger magnitude’. Apart from making important organisational improvements to his current employer, Closner has also made his mark with his work on several initiatives on the corporate side to help the business units find new avenues for revenue. In particular, Closner has worked on a few projects aiming to develop joint venture agreements with aboriginal entities in America that primarily involved working with various financial institutions to help customers with financing issues, in order to get a project under way.
Unilever Canada’s general counsel, John Coyne, has been an active contributor to his company’s evolution over the last three decades through his work on a number of prominent transactions and reorganisations. Today, Coyne provides leadership across the business, working with professionals and multi-disciplinary teams in law, corporate and government relations, regulatory affairs, quality assurance and safety. He is a member of both the board of directors as well as the leadership team for Unilever Canada, and is also chair of the company’s Pension Committee. Externally, Coyne works closely with industry groups and other organisations to encourage change in the consumer goods sector. He is currently chair of the board of Canadian Cosmetic, Toiletry and Fragrance Association and Advertising Standards Canada. In addition, Coyne is also well known for his leadership in corporate sustainability. He is a passionate advocate of the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan, designed to help Unilever deliver its objective of growing the business while reducing its environmental footprint and increasing its positive contribution to society. Coyne is chair of the board of Stewardship Ontario, the industry organisation which funds Ontario’s Blue Box and Municipal Hazardous Waste Programs. In addition, Coyne is co-chair of the Partners in Project Green steering committee, a major environmental initiative of the Toronto Region Conservation Authority. Coyne has been recognised for his leadership in corporate sustainability by being named by Clean 50 as one of Canada’s top sustainability leaders.
Constance Crosby is an effective problem solver, widely recognised for her adaptability and leadership qualities. Having worked in-house for over 10 years, Crosby is able to utilise her extensive knowledge of various jurisdictions to help with her analysis of Canadian issues in her new role as the legal director for the Canadian branch of CISCO Systems. Crosby is a member of the senior leadership team at CISCO and focuses on facilitating the company’s cross-Canada sales and corporate efforts. Since joining the company four years ago, Crosby has been focusing on expanding her legal team and integrating it with the rest of the company, as well as making her team more ‘outward-facing’ to proactively meet with external customers. In her past career, Crosby has supervised the legal function at the UK listed manufacturer and designer of mobile handled computers Psion, which is now part of Motorola Solutions. Her time there is marked by her successful work on a number of litigations in several continents, as well as an array of patent cases.
Lisa Damiani has made a strong impact on the strategic direction of New Gold since joining the company two years ago. Her work on key strategic transactions for the company has been a significant accomplishment, using her years of experience to guide the negotiations and bring about successful outcomes. In July 2015, Damiani contributed to the completion of a $175m stream transaction on Rainy River’s future production. The stream revenue is a key component of New Gold’s ability to finance the construction of the Rainy River gold mine, an ongoing project for the company. The successful development of this mine in itself is a key element of New Gold’s growth strategy, as it will enable the company to almost double its gold production. Damiani and her legal team have been deeply involved in facilitating the development of Rainy River, including through agreements with First Nations and other Aboriginal groups, agreements with governments and consolidating the land package. In addition, Damiani has made an impact on New Gold by undertaking a significant revision to anti-corruption policies and procedures, requiring extensive consultation and collaboration with all aspects of the business, followed by a global training initiative that reached every employee. Having a strong relationship with the executive chairman and all members of senior management allows Damiani to bring her unique legal perspective to the table.
Operational change has been one of the key highlights of Jonah Davids’ time in the position of executive vice president and general counsel at Just Energy. Apart from expanding his legal team, Davids has also been integral to regionalising the work of his team of 35. He explains ‘each lawyer is now responsible for a specific region. We look at 20 different jurisdictions, so we operate in 13 states in the US, six provinces in Canada, as well as in the UK and we’ve regionalised our work. Previously it was based on the “whoever is available” principle’. In addition, during his career at both law firm McMillan and Just Energy he has become widely recognised for his transactional work. More specifically, Davids has been integral to managing all of the significant transactions that Just Energy has gone through since 2008, which include three major acquisitions which totalled over $800m, two major divestitures which totalled $500m, three different credit agreement renewals and four other debt instruments that the company had. Davids considers his work on the $500m divestiture of the company’s home service as the greatest achievement in his professional career. The deal involved complex regulatory issues, with the company receiving its compensation in Canadian dollars. ‘I had to navigate the regulatory issues in order to get the deal approved, which was very challenging. It was extremely rewarding when we got the deal done’ he explains. Davids holds a Bachelor of Arts from Queen’s University, a Bachelor of Laws from the University of Western Ontario and a Master of Laws from the University of Dundee, Scotland, specialising in water law and policy.
Managing a team of 300 spread across Calgary, Montreal and Houston at the major North American energy company TransCanada, Kristine Delkus prides herself on creating a strong and versatile legal department. Delkus’ career has always been focused on the energy sector. She started off in the energy regulatory practice of law firm Morgan Lewis in Washington D.C., before moving to TransCanada around 20 years ago to work as senior counsel for US regulatory affairs. Due to her strong familiarity with TransCanada after two decades of rotations across the business, Delkus was promoted to general counsel and compliance officer in 2014. Apart from this role, Delkus also holds responsibility for internal audit, the regulatory group, government relations, communications and land and regional affairs. With a specialty in regulatory matters, Delkus has been able to utilise her skills in her new role: ‘My number one job is to understand our legal cost relative to that of other companies’, she says. ‘The legal group here grew organically. When I came here I wanted to understand whether our client service model was working and what I found through benchmarking was that we were high on both our internal spend and our external spend, so one of my priorities now is to move away from the hourly rate and to different kinds of relationships with our external providers and so forth’. As well as this focus on cost reduction, Delkus actively contributes to the strategic development of the company through her participation in the strategic management team. As the company implements new and sometimes ‘controversial’ projects, the board of TransCanada often utilises Delkus’ experience by asking her for guidance. Among a number of achievements in her professional career, Delkus is credited for her work on the merger between TransCanada and Nova Corporation, a major deal that has shaped the company into its form today. Delkus feels that the changing regulatory environment has made it somewhat more challenging to implement new projects. ‘The world has fundamentally shifted, particularly as a result of climate change’, she clarifies. ‘Now we try to build a project in a space that is governed by digital media among other things. The fax has given way to the internet, which is in fact a social movement that contributes to the politicisation of certain projects’.
Kevin Derbyshire, vice president and general counsel at industrial supply company Acklands-Grainger, is responsible for all legal matters and, as of October, 2013, the company’s corporate global real estate and procurement functions. For the last three years Derbyshire has been helping to promote the diversity agenda, something he believes generates great benefit for the legal team while delivering a ‘powerful business advantage’ for the company as a whole. For Derbyshire, companies that adopt diversity and inclusiveness will be ‘responsive, resilient, and successful in meeting the complex challenges that lie ahead in a competitive global environment’. Derbyshire began practicing law at a Toronto-based global firm focusing primarily on M&A and corporate and commercial work. He says that concluding deals in private practice gave him great insight into the corporate decision-making process. ‘Working on large international deals also made it clear to me that teams deployed to complete these deals with broader, diverse backgrounds would result in a better result for the client’. In 2000, he received an offer to join Bell Canada Enterprises and was responsible for providing legal support for the company’s procurement function. He was promoted to assistant general counsel within 18 months and became general counsel of Bell ExpressVu in 2002. Soon after this, the CEO restructured the legal department and charged Derbyshire with rebuilding the function at the company. In 2015, Richard Branson’s Virgin Group and Bell launched a joint venture, Virgin Mobile Canada, a new cell phone company in Canada. Five months before the launch Derbyshire was recruited for the vice president and general counsel position and joined the founding executive team. At the time Virgin Mobile had no legal department at all, Derbyshire immediately began implementing the legal, regulatory, and corporate-governance frameworks for the new venture.
A leader in the North American in-house community, Bombardier’s general counsel Daniel Desjardins has been among the most influential figures during the transformation of how legal functions at a large corporates operate. Bombardier bids for hundreds of public tenders each year, with most involving very complex public-private partnership (PPP) structures. Ensuring a rigorous and compliant pitch is key to Bombardier’s success. After 18 years with the Canada-headquartered aerospace and transport company, Desjardins has honed the in-house team into a one of the most effective pitch-support units in the sector. On almost any given day of the year, one of Bombardier’s lawyers will be active somewhere in the world. This led Desjardins to decentralise the in-house function and empower his team to act autonomously in the multiple jurisdictions in which the company operates. It also led him to build a relatively lean team: with revenues of over CAD $20bn, Desjardins relies on a central legal team of fewer than 200, including paralegals. Foregoing a large team has allowed Desjardins to keep his lawyers focused on their main purpose: advising on tenders in the jurisdiction in which a contract is to be delivered. Bombardier is the only company in the world that makes both trains and planes, both of which are highly complex products. As a result, Desjardins has little time for law firms claiming their product is too complicated to standardise or reduce to process. This tough stance has led to significantly improved efficiencies in Bombardier’s interaction with external counsel. Desjardins is a member Bombardier’s management committee and oversees corporate governance as company secretary. He was presented with the lifetime achievement award at the 2013 Canadian General Counsel Awards.
Dawn Devoe is general counsel for World Vision, Canada’s largest private, child-focused international humanitarian development agency and sponsor of nearly half a million children in developing nations around the world. Devoe was contacted by representatives of World Vision during a career break and joined in a temporary capacity in early 2010. The Haiti earthquake struck during Devoe’s second day in the office, forcing her to coordinate an international humanitarian aid mission while still learning people’s names. The intensity of those first few weeks offered a good insight into the emotional requirements of the job, which has subsequently called on Devoe to travel into some of the world’s most distressed regions. While the job requires a lot emotional strength, it also calls for a commercially-minded negotiator. World Vision is committed to maximising the amount of donor money that reaches those in need, which means the budgetary pressures Devoe and her team operate under are as oppressive as those at the most cost-controlled corporate (with the added moral burden of knowing every dollar spent on legal fees is a dollar less spent on saving lives). This has called upon Devoe’s suite of business skills, acquired over several years as senior counsel at synthetic crude oil producer Suncor, to leverage relationships with partner firms and extract the maximum value from the resources available to the team. Devoe has won particular acclaim for her role as key legal adviser to World Vision’s “No Child for Sale” advocacy campaign, aimed at ending child labour and human trafficking. She also led negotiations ahead of World Vision’s partnership with the United Nations World Food Programme. She was recently named one of the 25 Most Influential Lawyers in Canada for 2015 by Canadian Lawyer magazine, a testament to the respect she commands in the North American in-house community.
A highly experienced and dynamic corporate lawyer, Agnes Di Leonardi boasts substantial private practice and in-house experience and has impressed peers and clients alike with her exceptional leadership qualities. Currently in charge of the Canadian legal unit at Mazda, the Japanese car manufacturer, Di Leonardi holds overall responsibility for legal and corporate governance compliance matters. Prior to joining Mazda Canada, she was with Ford Motor Company of Canada where she held several executive positions including vice president legal, for Ford Credit Canada and vice president law for Premier Automotive Group. Outside of the realm of legal work, Di Leonardi is very active in community and global organisations, being a member of the International Women’s Forum and Global Leaders in Law. Di Leonardi is a past director and corporate secretary of the YWCA of Greater Toronto and co-chaired the annual Woman of Distinction Awards dinner. She is a past director of the Women’s College Hospital Foundation, and past member of the Governing Council of Sunnybrook Hospital Foundation. She currently serves as a board director of Global Automakers of Canada (GAC) and is a member of the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association of Canada (JAMA) where she is active on many automotive industry related issues. She has experienced wide recognition for her professional and community achievements. Namely, she is a recipient of the 1996 Toronto Sun Women’s on the Move award, the 1988 FLARE Volunteer award and the 2001 YWCA Women of Distinction Award in recognition of her professional and community achievements.
Described as fair and unfailingly gracious by peers, Jonathan Drimmer, deputy general counsel at Barrick Gold is consistently praised by his contemporaries for his extraordinary contribution to the legal field and his strong positive contributions in the field of business and human rights. Despite the recent commodities downturn and increasing professional burdens, he has ‘risen to the challenge very well’ and excelled nonetheless. His consistent diligence and dedication to all areas has been duly noticed with one source saying, ‘Drimmer is an enormously talented lawyer, he is extremely smart, well informed and has tremendous tactical judgment. He also works exceptionally hard, is always well prepared and has a calm, constructive and collaborative approach to litigation that serves Barrick well’. Although Drimmer is currently managing a series of multi-billion dollar security class actions in the US and in several different Canadian provinces, he has also been particularly proactive in leading various business and human rights. Most recently, as a board member of Global Compact Network Canada he has been leading a high level working group drafting a guidance document to assist companies and their auditors assess implementation of the voluntary principles on security and human rights initiatives. He has also led a group and been a contributor towards the document “embedding the 10 principles into supply chain management: reflections from the global compact network Canada”, which is a policy initiative for businesses that are committed to aligning their operations with UN Global Compact accepted principles in the areas of human rights, labour, the environment and anti-corruption. Drimmer has embarked on several innovative projects for Global Compact Network Canada: an e-book about anti-corruption to be published May 2016 and a monthly podcast-series interviewing a number of executives regarding the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the 10 principles of the Global Compact. He recently served on the Steering Committee for the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights.
When Megan Evans joined The Hospital for Sick Children in 2007, also known as SickKids, there was no general counsel or equivalent position at the Toronto-based institution. There were only two lawyers working in the hospital, which is the second-largest hospital-based paediatric research facility, and their roles were largely confined to reviewing contracts for research. Since 2007, Evans has developed the legal function and it now operates as a full service department providing services hospital-wide. The creation of the team is particularly important as it is a vital support mechanism that ensures SickKids achieves its strategic objectives. ‘It has elevated the discussion about legal and risk issues within the organisation, which has had a positive impact in encouraging leaders everywhere to share a sense of ownership and responsibility within their portfolios as far as identifying and managing risks to the business’, says Evans. She now also has oversight for risk management, insurance, privacy, compliance, emergency preparedness and internal audit. Evans has received high praise from her peers for her work to oversee the enterprise risk management framework at the hospital that has since become embedded into its operations. Prior to joining SickKids, Evans spent most of her legal career focusing on health law, working at Cassels Brock, a leading business law firm in Canada and before that, Goodmans. She graduated from the University of Windsor Law School with the Board of Governor’s Medal (awarded to the student graduating with the highest cumulative grade point average).
Prior to assuming her current position as director of corporate legal at the international real estate company Oxford Properties Group, Andrea Fellows spent four years working at the Canadian law firm Goodmans. The highlight of Fellows’ professional career has been the unique opportunity to advise and work on the Hudson Yards project in New York City: ‘Being involved on a project of such scale and magnitude has posed many complications and challenges’, Fellows says. ‘However it has also been incredibly exciting to be involved in the building of a new neighbourhood in downtown Manhattan!’ As an ambitious lawyer, with experience in real estate, development and general corporate law, Fellows is able to work closely with the business teams at her current employer to successfully manage transactions from start to finish. As a key advisor to the company, Fellows strives to balance the tension between protecting its interests while endeavouring to enable the business to be as successful as possible.
Sean Finn joined the Canadian National Railway Company (CN) in 2000 and was appointed executive vice president corporate services and chief legal officer in December 2008. At CN he is responsible for all legal regulatory and public affairs matters as well as being secretary to the board of directors. Finn is one of the most established and respected in-house lawyers in Canada, and has a long and distinguished record of public service. He has served as the chairman of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce (2006-2007), Quebec Chamber of Commerce (2002-2003), mayor of Saint-Lambert (2005-2009), chairman of the Railway Association of Canada (2005-2006) and is a board member of the Montreal Children’s Hospital Foundation, YMCA Foundation of Greater Montreal and Swimming Canada.
Simon Fish’s extensive list of initiatives to shape and innovate within the legal profession have not gone unnoticed, with peers singing his praises for being the best in the field. One nominator describes him as ‘an exemplar of the pursuit of excellence in the practice of law, dedication to his clients and commitment to the broader world’. Fish took up his role as executive vice president and general counsel of BMO Financial Group, the operating valve of the Bank of Montreal, in 2008, a Canadian chartered bank offering investment, brokerage, corporate, commercial and personal banking and trust services throughout the world. There he is described as having ‘restructured’ and ‘breathed new life’ into the legal and compliance team, helping the bank navigate its way successfully through the financial crisis. Prior to this role he enjoyed stints in the mining industry where he served as executive vice president general counsel of Vale and earlier in oil and gas as vice president, general counsel and corporate secretary of Shell Canada. He has been instrumental in BMO’s legal group being viewed, both internally and externally, as a high performing team boasting some of the highest employee engagement levels in the bank. Fish is also known for promoting diversity and inclusion as he is a founding member of Legal Leaders for Diversity, a group of progressive general counsel who have committed to advancing diversity in their legal departments. Additionally, Fish helped BMO further expand its banking and wealth management businesses through several recent transactions including: a joint venture with COFCO Trust Co. (one of China’s largest, state-owned enterprises) in 2012, the acquisition of Hong Kong based Lloyd George in 2013, the $1.3bn acquisition of UK-based F&C Asset Management in 2014 and the US$8.7bn acquisition of GE Capital’s transportation finance business in the US and Canada in 2015. Fish’s team spearheaded the creation of the Environmental, Social and Governance Report (ESG) and public accountability statement detailing how BMO manages the environmental, social and governance impacts of its business. Fish is described by a source as the ‘epitome of how the general counsel of a major corporation can promote the welfare of the corporation and its multiple constituencies’. It is clear that Fish has displayed exemplary aptitude and talent, paving the way for other general counsel in the region. Fish was named Canada’s general counsel of the year in 2013 and ranked among Canada’s Top 25 Most Influential Lawyers in the legal profession in 2014.
Kenneth Fredeen stands out from his peers due to his sterling reputation as a leader and his active participation in a range of diversity initiatives aimed at improving the quality and standards of in-house counsel. Aside from his role as general counsel and secretary to the board at Deloitte, the world’s largest professional services provider, Fredeen has been awarded for a myriad of philanthropic and exceptional work in his professional and personal life. Most recently Fredeen was recognised as a global leader in the Deloitte global talent leadership program. In addition, Fredeen was a founding member of Legal Leaders for Diversity and Inclusion and is also a member of the board for the Canadian Centre for Ethics and Corporate Policy. He currently serves as chair of the board of The Learning Partnership, a national organisation which supports public education in Canada, and is a member of the board for SenseAbility, a recently established not-for-profit entity supporting the employment of people with disabilities. As part of his multifaceted work Fredeen has been involved in many capacities with the United Way, having chaired the Greater Toronto Area and national campaigns and participated on the Toronto United Way Legal and Major Individual Giving cabinets. As an executive member of the Association of Canadian General Counsel he is a panellist and speaker on the challenges and highlights of the general counsel, diversity and in-house management.
Managing a team of 20, comprised of lawyers and analysts, at Pacific Exploration and Production Company, the Canadian crude oil and gas exploration and production company, Michael Galego strives to proactively add value to his organisation by bringing as much work in-house as possible. In his role as deputy general counsel, apart from providing legal advice to the various business elements of Pacific, Galego also assists with corporate governance and executive compensation and serves as secretary to a number of boards. Most recently, Galego impressed by overseeing the legal aspects of the potential sale of Pacific to a large Mexican company in a transaction that would have amounted to $7bn, with the transaction ultimately being rejected by shareholders in July 2015. As Pacific’s strategic vision over the past few years has involved growing the exploration and production portfolio by acquiring new assets primarily in Latin America, upon joining the company in 2010, Galego was instantly presented with the challenge of having to learn Spanish and undertake extensive travel in Latin America. However, Galego explains that he enjoyed this challenge and opportunity: ‘As a North American trained lawyer, dealing with emerging markets posed certain expectations that were new to me, yet I also had to really refine my cultural antenna, because it is very different to working in Toronto. I think that was the biggest hurdle in my career, but also a great opportunity to broaden my horizons’. As well as his role at Pacific, Galego also serves as general counsel at CGX Energy, a small Canadian oil and gas exploration company and serves on the board of the directors at Woulfe Mining, a company operating a mine out of South Korea that is in the process of being sold to another producer. Prior to joining Pacific, Galego spent five years at the leading Ontario based law firm Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt.
Managing a team of five employees at Nissan Canada, general counsel Fernando Garcia has been a crucial element of the department’s transformation in the past three years. During his time in the role Garcia has created an open and transparent atmosphere in the office, ensuring all employees keep each other updated and aware of the matters that they encounter on a daily basis. As Nissan Canada’s sales have grown 24% per year since Garcia started, such an atmosphere is crucial to provide the effective support necessary for the expanding business. Garcia has also moved the department away from a “Yes or No” approach and instead is working with the business to develop alternatives to reach their desired solutions. Due to Garcia’s efforts, legal has become recognised as a strategic partner, rather than a roadblock to Nissan’s business. Despite having a heavy workload, family commitments and completing a part-time MBA in the last few years, Garcia has made an effort to work within his wider legal and ethnic community. He is an executive member of Legal Leaders for Diversity, an association of general counsel working to bring diversity and inclusiveness into the Canadian legal profession. Garcia is also a board member of the Toronto Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, which aims to support economic development for Hispanic Business in Toronto, Canada and Latin America. While at his previous employer, Navistar Canada, Garcia was part of a task force charged with bringing into operation Navistar Defence Canada, a division that was responsible for government and quasi-government sales of military vehicles in Canada. The function Garcia performed required him to obtain and apply knowledge in areas where he had very little past experience, from incorporating and setting up the business, to obtaining and maintaining proper security clearances for the staff.
An effective leader with 27 years of experience, Christopher Ginther has occupied senior and prestigious legal and operational positions at a variety of Canada’s largest business enterprises. Well known for building and leading high-performing legal and business teams he has shown executive leadership experience in a broad scope of matters. Ginther’s unique style of leadership, depth of experience, legal and business acumen have culminated in a high level of respect from the Canadian legal and business community. Ginther is highly respected for his vision, scope and high performance approach. Apart from that, he is credited for being an expert in problem-solving, crisis management and dispute resolution, as well as a trusted advisor and excellent communicator. Ginther currently holds the position of general counsel at Ontario Power Generation, where he is responsible for the oversight and management of all legal affairs. His innovative leadership brought about fundamental changes in corporate culture, governance and strategy at his former employer Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG), which resulted in functional relationships with OLG’s internal teams as well as the corporation’s large and varied stakeholder community, and external firms. In a previous role as mentor and senior business development advisor for law firm Gowlings, Ginther assisted in the implementation of growth strategies in the telecommunications and gaming sectors, and developed a “best in class” proposition for corporate, commercial and litigation lines of business. Prior to that, for nearly a decade, Ginther served in a number of senior positions within the BCE/Bell Canada law department. During his tenure as vice president and general counsel from 2002 to 2008, Ginther demonstrated strong ability to engender support from external teams to reach favourable resolution to a number of complex disputes. In addition to that, Ginther oversaw the negotiation and implementation of a $6bn complex telecom solution with global leaders in financial services, technology, manufacturing and government, as well as outsourcing arrangements with a number of global players.
Mark Gosine is general counsel at DHX Media, a leading creator, producer, marketer and broadcaster of family entertainment, that is globally recognised for brands such as Yo Gabba Gabba!, Teletubbies and the multi-award winning Degrassi franchise. In July, 2014, DHX completed its previously announced deal to acquire Family Channel, Disney XD and Disney Junior English and French-language channels, creating DHX Television. Gosine was at the forefront of the strategic decision-making that facilitated this deal. For Gosine one of the standout deals is the $170m agreement with Bell Media in 2013 that received Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) approval on July 24, 2014 and officially closed a week later. On the acquisition he explains, ‘the Family Channel is the most-viewed children’s television channel in Canada and its acquisition, amongst the other TV properties that were a part of this deal, enhanced all areas of DHX’s business and enhanced its platform for future growth. The complex acquisition involved obtaining CRTC approvals, intellectual property issues, corporate finance and securities and tax matters’. His success, on all levels, was driven by innovative leadership. Above everything Gosine prides himself on having assembled a team of brilliant in-house and external advisors, a group who previously worked together on many significant deals and had ‘proven their ability to function as a strong unit’. The streamlined processes, now well established by the group, propelled the in-house team’s efficiency at each stage. He explains how he leveraged his team to their greatest advantage, matching lawyers with the work that best fit their strengths. ‘Amalgamating legal expertise, I drew in external counsel from Stewart McKelvey and external regulatory advisors with complementary skills, eliminating overlap, reducing inefficiencies and maximising resources’. In September 2015, Gosine received the Canadian Lawyer In-House Innovation award for his work on the Family Channel deal.
As an award winning vice president and general counsel, Deborah Greenberg has shown exceptional dedication to her team and has led a number of strategic projects during her time at Aimia. Greenberg has been an inspirational voice by telling her story of how she initially graduated in psychology followed by a graduate management program and pursued a career in marketing and advertising, then, at the age of 29, she found her true vocation by returning to McGill University to study law. Greenberg started her legal career at Davies Ward Philips and Vineberg and left private practice after seven years to serve as a legal advisor for a number of small businesses before moving to Air Canada. She joined Aeroplan in 2007. When discussing one of the biggest challenges, but equally most rewarding moment of her career, she explains: ‘In 2013, I was part of a small business team that negotiated deals for new agreements/renewals for the Aeroplan portfolio of credit cards with TD Bank, CIBC (which included a conveyance of 50% of CIBC’s Aeroplan credit card portfolio to TD) and American Express, as well as supplemental agreements with Air Canada in support of the bank agreements. These negotiations significantly contributed in bringing to life the long term strategy of the Aeroplan program and overall business’. One of the most significant litigations she has been involved in was a class action filed in 2009 and certified in 2012 by the Quebec Superior Court, relating to the expiry of Aeroplan miles for inactivity within one year of earning them or that had gone unused for seven years. Aeroplan subsequently cancelled the seven-year “date-stamping” expiry policy. As a respected voice in the industry, Greenberg has been highly praised for her influence on her legal team. She explains, ‘I have made a concerted effort to ensure that there is some overlap of accountabilities – not so much so that it is inefficient – but more to stretch people out of their comfort zones and ensure that there is a general understanding of our businesses across the team’. In 2014, the Association of Corporate Counsel and the International Law Office awarded Greenberg the Global Counsel award in the “General Commercial” category.
In addition to being the lead legal support for some of the largest and most complex construction projects in Canada, Stefan Gruszka’s tenure as assistant general counsel at Kiewit Canada is marked by the work done internally to integrate Canadian legal services into one core group. Historically, attorneys could be assigned specific districts within Kiewit and would focus exclusively on the contracting and operations needs of that district. With recent increases in global procurement strategies, international participation in Canadian construction projects and alternative procurement models, Gruszka was a key part of implementing an allocation methodology for the company’s Canadian legal services between pursuit-based legal work and operational legal work for all the Kiewit districts in Canada. In addition to this, the department has consolidated work previously divided between lawyers by market area, allowing for a more streamlined and consistent approach to providing client-focused legal support to Kiewit’s Canadian operations. This new approach has brought many benefits, including consistency and efficiencies, as well as a unified approach to legal issues and knowledge sharing. To date, it has been extremely successful in ensuring that the legal group provides best-in-class legal services to internal clients, while bringing a consistent professional legal approach to matters involving Kiewit’s clients, partners, vendors and other stakeholders.
Martin Guest currently serves as the chief compliance officer, general counsel and secretary at Manulife’s Canadian division. His current responsibilities at Manulife range from advising divisional senior management on complex legal matters affecting operations across multiple jurisdictions, to overseeing the development and implementation of compliance risk management strategies. Previously Guest worked for three years at the Canadian international law firm Torys, and spent over a decade at Fidelity Investments Canada. A business-oriented lawyer with 15 years of combined in-house experience, Guest is recognised as a lawyer with a long term vision, who uses excellent legal judgement and sound strategic insights to help drive business results, while remaining calm and focused under pressure. In addition, he is seen as a professional who possesses second to none interpersonal skills and exceptional managerial qualities.
Jeffrey Haar joined Postmedia, the largest newspaper group in Canada, in January 2012 as executive vice president and general counsel. Currently leading a team of seven employees, Haar has managed to reform the legal department over the years without making any significant personnel changes, primarily by fostering a collaborative attitude. ‘We have regular meetings to share information and to allow team member to share their unique experiences and insights. Lawyers are encouraged to help each other on a daily basis‘, Haar says. In addition, Haar has given increasing responsibilities to his team while expecting a higher level of accountability, an approach that has earned praise from both his legal colleagues and senior management. As part of the executive committee, Haar is involved in the highest level strategic decisions of the company. In particular, Haar’s recent involvement in the acquisition of a major competitor in Canada has had a long reaching impact on the success and direction of Postmedia. Along with the CEO and CFO, he was a key member of the team directly involved with the work on the deal that resulted in Postmedia becoming the largest publisher by circulation of newspapers in Canada. Prior to becoming a key figure in Postmedia’s executive team, Haar worked for six years at the global asset manager Brookfield Asset Management and prior to that spent a considerable time in the technology sector. Haar’s time at a fast growing technology firm, Architel Systems Corporation (1998-2000), has been particularly noteworthy. In 2000, together with Architel’s CEO, Haar negotiated the sale of the company to the technology giant Nortel at the peak of the tech boom. ‘I’d say that my involvement on this transaction was one of the more challenging achievements in my career. It was a complicated deal, as many are, but was made more challenging as it fell on the heels on an earlier busted transaction. As Architel was a public company, it was imperative that the acquirer not be able to terminate the deal following its announcement but prior to closing. Through long and difficult negotiations, we were able to find a creative solution and achieve a successful outcome for our stakeholders.’ The first roles in Haar’s career were as a securities lawyer with Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom and Shearman & Sterling in New York.
Andrea Hatzinikolas has been praised for the various legal roles she has taken on during her tenure at Alvopetro, currently serving as vice president, corporate and legal. Prior to this role, in 2007, Hatzinikolas was the general counsel of Petrobank Energy and Resources, as well as being the general counsel and corporate secretary of Lightstream Resources and Petrominerals. Prior to her time at Petrobank, Hatzinikolas was an associate in the Calgary department of a national law firm, focusing on securities and corporate law.
A results-oriented, analytical and strategic leader, Mark Hemingway is a seasoned lawyer with two decades of experience in financial services. At the present moment, Hemingway heads a legal department of 35 employees at Canada’s leading asset servicing provider CIBC Mellon. In addition to his role as general counsel, Hemingway oversees compliance, risk, corporate development, corporate secretarial, privacy, corporate security and internal audit functions. During his tenure at CIBC Mellon, Hemingway has made visible improvements to the company’s operational activities. For example, he has designed, built and overseen a compliance program and framework to ensure that the company’s business practices meet legal, regulatory and industry requirements. He has also introduced a system for the management of objectives, a policies and procedures manual, a new employee orientation manual and benchmarking through a survey of internal clients of the legal department. From a more “black letter law” perspective, Hemingway is recognised for his work on a number of prominent transactions and disputes, including leading two major divestitures and an acquisition, as well as leading CIBC Mellon’s legal response to the ABCP litigation and the failure of Lehman Brothers.
A member of the executive leadership board at the Alberta-based utility company ENMAX, Robert Hemstock has his say on important strategic issues for his company. ‘My boss is the CEO, so I am involved in all discussions related to the strategy of our company’ he articulates. ‘Once we have established our strategy, the policy advocacy component of what I do is key to implementing the strategy. We have to ensure that the regulatory environment actually materialises as our strategy contemplates. My role once we’ve established the strategy is to mitigate the risk that our strategy cannot be employed, based on externalities’. As vice president for legal services of the company since March 2006, Hemstock has done a lot to ensure that any kind of legal and regulatory advice is focused on the strategy of his company and is not done in isolation of ENMAX’s wider goals, ensuring that each lawyer thinks about business objectives and what the separate departments and units are doing to achieve the long term corporate goals. In addition, Hemstock receives praise for expanding the legal group, primarily using business cases to justify the positive economic benefits of having a strong legal force. When elaborating on the most impressive achievements in his career, Hemstock points out his work on the commissioning the Shepard Energy Centre, the biggest natural gas plant ever built in Alberta’s history, after seven years of planning. Another major achievement in Hemstock’s career is the introduction of formula-based rates in Alberta; ENMAX was the first utility in Alberta to propose that it operates under performance based rates, with the Alberta Utilities Commission subsequently mandating that all electric and gas utilities in Alberta follow similar rates. Prior to joining ENMAX in March 2006, Hemstock spent certain time working at Direct Energy Marketing, UBS Warburg and Enron in various in-house positions.
Frank Herbert has experience in the mining and natural resources industries spanning over 25 years. He joined Centerra as general counsel in 2004 and was appointed president in 2015. Herbert was the first lawyer at Centerra and created the legal team that stands today. His role encompasses a variety of roles and government relations functions helping to lead negotiations in regards to mergers and acquisitions, securities and commercial matters. As part of his international scope Herbert is responsible for management of the company’s global legal affairs. He manages government relations and negotiations in all the jurisdictions where Centerra Gold operates, including the Kyrgyz Republic, Mongolia, Turkey, Portugal and Canada. When discussing challenges Herbert says that the most significant factor in his business were political challenges that included resource nationalism, commenting that ‘it requires a great deal of patience and perseverance to stay connected with and influence outcomes in jurisdictions that are so far away and so different from our own’. He has evidently managed to stay afloat of political and geographical challenges with his top quality legal advice, leadership and problem-solver approach. Herbert has gone on to lead negotiations in the Kyrgyz republic, which is considered the largest and most important asset and has now evolved publically to about 50 negotiations with the government. He’s also successfully managed Centerra’s investments in Kurdistan despite very significant political and legal risks. Prior to this role he practiced at Freshfields in London, where he focused on international natural resource transactions and joint ventures. Herbert then returned to Canada and spent five years with Macleod Dixon also in the natural resource area doing security and commercial law.
As chief legal officer and vice president at Bruce Power, Brian Hilbers leads a large team of 350. Although cost control during litigation has proven to be the biggest challenge for Hilbers, he has managed to implement various strong project management skills to ensure that the cost of legal services has remained at a 10 ten year low. Hilbers and his team have completely revamped the approach the legal department has taken in providing value added legal services. ‘The organisation I inherited was a high performing organisation using “first generation” value add and cost control approaches to the provision of in-house legal services’. He has been instrumental in evolving it to “second generation” of value add and cost control by re-evaluating the work done by in-house counsel using technology, metrics, data mining and other approaches to reduce ‘commodity-type’ legal work, thus freeing lawyers to focus on work of higher value. Secondly, he has moved away from external counsel blended rates to ensure the right and most efficient use of external counsel. Hilbers has also optimised the team by implementing strong project management skills both in-house and with their preferred external legal service providers. When asked about the highlight of his career Hilbers says: ‘Client satisfaction is one of the biggest measures of value added legal services. We have driven up client satisfaction scores to 87%, which is well within the 90th percentile of all in-house departments. This has been raised from the 75th percentile during a three year period’. This value, Hilbers says, is calculated by measuring and reporting to the executive team a set of factors, including the client satisfaction rate, the percent of in-house time spent on corporate strategic issue and litigation management cost and exposure ratio.
Mark Hounsell is very well regarded in the Canadian in-house community, due to his outstanding reputation for his work on commercial transactions and M&A deals, as well as his contributions to corporate governance and disclosure work in Canada. In his current role as general counsel at CAE, the global leader in the delivery of training for the civil aviation, defence and security, and healthcare markets, Mark Hounsell holds nearly two decades of in-house legal experience. Having joined the company in February 2016, Hounsell is responsible for the development and management of the legal framework for CAE’s business worldwide, as well as leadership of the company’s compliance and corporate secretariat portfolios. Prior to joining CAE, Hounsell spent nine years at the Montreal-based data-driven marketing and loyalty analytics company, Aimia. He distinguished himself with the successful development and management of Aimia’s various businesses, as well as leadership of the enterprise’s corporate secretariat and governance portfolios. Previously, Hounsell held various positions at Canada’s premier coalition loyalty program Aeroplan and the largest communications company in Canada, Bell. During his tenure as assistant general counsel at Bell Canada between 2002 and 2006, Hounsell was able to contribute to Bell’s development efforts in the region by leading the legal commercial group at the company.
Despite operating globally in more than 70 locations across six continents in more than 25 countries, ShawCor, the world’s largest integrated energy services company, has a very small legal department. Having a small team with a breadth of responsibility, however, keeps things both interesting and challenging for Tim Hutzl, the company’s vice president for legal. Hutzul has made a strong impact on ShawCor since joining in his current role in November 2011. One of the most important changes he introduced was the expansion of the reach of the corporate legal team to encompass all business units and corporate functions by raising awareness of how legal could assist them, and by providing training in areas such as FCPA and in other ethical compliance areas. Hutzul has played an instrumental role in the M&A activity of the company and has several important disputes under his belt. In particular he has impressed by devising, along with a business colleagues, the strategy that won the auction to complete the biggest acquisition in company history. In addition, Hutzul has played an active role in the direction of litigation cases which have resulted in positive outcomes, both financially and strategically. Since joining ShawCor, Hutzul has grown into the role and the global nature of the business, cherishing the opportunity to work with lawyers around the world. ‘It’s fun to wake up every morning excited to see what the day brings’ Hutzul says. ‘Everyone should be so lucky’.
Before being appointed as general counsel and corporate secretary at mineral exploration and development company Turquoise Hill Resources in January 2013, Dustin Isaacs spent some time with Rio Tinto in the position of legal counsel. Upon joining Rio Tinto, Isaacs made it his top priority to look at the board mandate, making sure that that his team had an understanding of what was being done in the committees. After conducting a thorough analysis of both external providers and internal policies, Isaacs made the process more rigorous and initiated cross-department functions. More recently, during his tenure at Turquoise Hill Resources, Isaacs has significantly improved the company position in the corporate governance ranking. In terms of deals, Isaacs takes pride in his work on a $2.4bn rights offering at Turquoise Hill Resources that took place in 2013 and has been the largest transaction on the Toronto Stock Exchange. More broadly, Isaacs is proud of the recognition he has earned from his CEO and chair of the board of directors, which allows him to act as a trusted strategic advisor. Regardless of his exceptional achievements, Isaacs finds certain aspects of his role challenging, particularly in Mongolia and Asia Pacific, as well as divesting certain assets.
‘I can’t place a dollar amount on the value the legal team brings. The value I calculate is the number of people that come up to us and ask legal questions who have not done so in the past. Our approaches have empowered people to come to lawyers in confidence, without the mystique that the legal department usually comes with’, says Mark Johnson, general counsel at Infusion, a computer software company that specialises in software engineering, design and consulting. Johnson has been in the legal field since 1998 and started his in-house career at Deutsche Bank Canada. Infusion’s leadership relies on Johnson and his team for legal advice on matters related to contracts, employment, policy writing, and in areas such as risk mitigation and deal facilitation. Legal functions aside, Johnson has been proactive in developing his other talents. He prides himself in having been part of the implementation of a variety of technologies to improve efficiency in the legal department. This has included changes to processes and procedures through contract work-flow systems employing a new document sharing site. He instituted e-signatures with DocuSign and a play book with standard positions and standard contract templates. Discussing the changes he has introduced to the legal department, Johnson says his approach has made people have more faith in the workings of the unit. ‘I believe that just enhancing the service quality of the legal department has had an impact on the company. People throughout the company are thinking of legal issues in their daily work. They understand the significance of legal issues. We’re no longer an afterthought or barrier; in fact we are a facilitator. I think that’s been the most significant change’. Johnson tells us that one of his aims is to try to overcome people’s fear of the legal department. He says: ‘My approach is to meet people in their offices get out there, convey the impression that the legal department is very approachable and here to help them run their jobs. That has always been a big challenge’. In 2012 Johnson presented a seminar on ethical challenges for in-house teams at the 2nd Annual In-House Counsel Summit held by the Law Society of Upper Canada.
Peter Kalins is a highly respected in-house lawyer in Canada, who has earned a reputation for his strong work ethic and integrity. After a four-year spell at Canadian law firm Torys, Kalins has enjoyed a successful and highly diverse in-house career across a variety of sectors. His past roles have included legal counsel positions at the telecommunications company Nortel and automotive supplier Magna International, as well as a five-year tenure as general counsel at the silicon metal producer Timminco. Kalins currently leads the global legal function for all corporate entities within the Apotex Group, a privately-held global pharmaceutical company based in Toronto with over 10,000 employees and $2bn in revenues. Supervising a team of 10, including five lawyers, Kalins is well integrated in the senior structure of the company, providing strategic legal advice to executive management, and participating in discussions with the executive team regarding Apotex’s overall governance and legal controls. He has contributed immensely to Apotex with his efforts to implement projects aiming to enhance compliance and mitigate risks, including contract management and commercial compliance projects.
Sachin Kanabar is a highly flexible in-house lawyer, who is able to generate creative solutions to a diverse array of complex legal matters. His proven ability to proactively establish trusting relationships at all levels comes in handy in his position of general counsel at LG Electronics Canada. As part of his role, it is essential for Kanabar to build partnerships with LG’s external stakeholders on a daily basis, whilst providing strategic counsel and legal advice, advocating and negotiating on the company’s behalf and drafting and reviewing commercial agreements. Prior to Kanabar’s appointment as general counsel a year ago, he worked as a sole lawyer at The Source. Kanabar supported all business units at The Source and advised senior management on strategic decisions, while leading and developing a team of 12 direct and indirect reports and managing a significant budget. Sachin’s first position after law school was a five year spell at leading Canadian law firm Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt. During that time Kanabar established a reputation for his involvement in a number of high profile matters representing various stakeholders in domestic and cross-border proceedings and transactions.
Formerly known as the Canadian Hockey Association, Hockey Canada is the national governing body of ice hockey and sledge hockey in the country. When Sean Kelly joined in 2008 as general counsel there was no legal department, so he had to establish the function from scratch, setting up a formal process for the review and approval of agreements for the organisation. As national sports organisations in Canada ‘generally do not have in-house legal counsel, there was no real template’ for someone stepping into that role. Coming into Hockey Canada to fill a previously non-existent position, Kelly had to learn what people expected from him as the lawyer in the business: one of the biggest challenges was to have the answer when it came to a diverse range of legal questions, regardless of whether it dealt with human resources, corporate law, criminal law, risk management or corporate governance. ‘Developing enough knowledge in those various areas to respond appropriately to whatever question I might be asked has been challenging, to say the least’, Kelly says. He feels that setting up a legal function at Hockey Canada has brought true economic value to the organisation, avoiding the constant need for external advice. ‘The resulting cash savings have been significant,’ he explains, ‘but from a more intangible perspective, my legal background enables me to provide a perspective that I believe has led to better decision making within the organisation since my arrival. People tend to seek out advice on issues from me that they might not have discussed with external counsel in the past, due to concerns about the “meter running” during those discussions. The end result is that our organisational risk has been reduced and our decision making has been enhanced‘. Since 2008, Kelly has played a leading role in the re-writing of corporate by-laws, which have been around for the past century, to bring Hockey Canada into compliance with the Canadian Not For Profit Corporations Act. As an avid sports fan, Kelly feels privileged to be one of the few lawyers in Canada to have a job as in-house counsel with a national sports organisation.
Melissa Kennedy joined Sun Life Financial, one of the largest life insurance companies in the world with operations dating back to 1865, in 2014 and became chief legal officer in May 2015. Overseeing the legal, compliance, corporate secretarial and corporate and public affairs functions in an insurer that serves nearly 40 million people in more than 20 jurisdictions globally, Kennedy is responsible for managing an enormous amount of regulatory complexity and legal service provision. Sun Life Financial appointed Kennedy with a mandate to help protect the company’s long-standing integrity as a leading insurer by enhancing its commitment to transparency and clearly documented accountability, while supporting its highly-rated enterprise risk management practices. Kennedy arrived at Sun Life Financial with a distinguished record of managing legal risk at complex institutions, having previously served as general counsel at Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan, one of Canada’s largest pension funds, associate general counsel at The Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC), and head of the prosecution team at the Ontario Securities Commission. Kennedy is a member of University of Toronto’s Law Alumni Association Council and sits on the executive committee of the Legal Leaders for Diversity and Inclusion.
Josée Kouri is vice president, legal affairs and corporate secretary at Dollarama, a TSX listed corporation that operates more than 1,000 retail stores across Canada. She joined Dollarama in 2011 and established the internal legal group. Kouri works very closely with the senior management of Dollarama and provides advice with respect to, among other things, financing, securities, corporate governance, product liability, intellectual property and information technology matters. She also advises on the legal aspects of the major initiatives of Dollarama. For example, she played a leading role in the conclusion of a commercial arrangement between Dollarama and a Central American dollar store chain. Before joining Dollarama, Kouri worked for six years in the Business Law Group of a major Canadian law firm, where her practice focused on securities and corporate finance.
Larry Kram, general counsel and corporate secretary for Alberta Electric System Operator, heads a department made up of five lawyers and three administrative assistants. His role has evolved with the growth of the company and the board’s enhanced focus on ensuring its governance practices are benchmarked against best industry practices. The rise in legal departments has led organisations to see the value in legal being involved in broader capacities than they have been in the past. This is evidenced by the growth of legal departments in the last few years. Kram recognises this as an opportunity to handle multiple tasks within the in-house field and says, ‘the career path that you take, or have to take, depending on the size of the company and the stage it is at in terms of growth, can open doors and you may find that there is an opportunity to stretch your skills, even into a non-legal role’.
Michel Lalande, recognised as one of Canada’s Top 40 Corporate Counsel: 40 and Under 40 by the National Post, and in 2008, as Québec’s General Counsel of the Year, serves as a senior vice president, general counsel and corporate secretary at BCE Inc. and Bell Canada. Prior to joining BCE Inc., Lalande held several positions with Teleglobe, which was acquired by BCE Inc. in 2000. From 1989 to 1996, he worked at law firm Fasken Martineau, where he developed his M&A and securities law practice. Lalande studied law at the Université de Montréal and at the Université de Poitiers in France. He was called to the Québec bar in 1989. In 2014 Lalande presented a prestigious award ceremony that recognises market-leading legal counsel in the region.
Martin Langelier is currently chief legal officer and secretary for Bombardier Recreational Products, holding a diverse mix of responsibilities for the management of the company’s global legal and compliance affairs, the corporate social responsibility program, the internal audit function and public affairs department. During his career at Bombardier Recreational Products, a manufacturer of motorised recreational vehicles that was formerly part of the wider Bombardier group, Langelier has played an important role in the company’s initial public offering which was selected as the most successful IPO of the year in Canada. In addition, he has been praised for his important contribution to the sale of Bombardier’s Recreational Products Division to a group of investors in 2003. Also responsible for the various aspects of the company’s commercial transactions, Langelier has established a reputation for his work on many important international transactions. Langelier has been with Bombardier Recreational Products since 2000, initially employed as a legal counsel but rising quickly through the ranks to become the director of corporate and commercial legal services in 2004, and eventually senior vice president for public affairs and general counsel. His first employment as a lawyer was with law firm DeGranpré-Chait, where he worked for around four years. Langelier holds a bachelor’s degree in Law from Sherbrooke University in Canada and an MBA degree from the University of Birmingham, UK.
Anthony Lannie, general counsel at Apache Canada, oversees 42 employees in the legal department, of whom 28 are lawyers. Apache’s legal department prides itself on its world-class team of attorneys and support professionals, and Lannie has had an instrumental role in diversity initiatives and upholding the utmost standard of quality within his team. Thanks to Lannie, the legal department is currently comprised of 43% women and 24% minorities. Of its new hires since (and including) 2011, 72% have been women and 28% have been minorities. Lannie has used a variety of creative approaches to recruiting and retention as part of this shift; his team of lawyers are energetic, young attorneys recruited from the best law firms and are widely known within the company as leaders in their respective areas. He also ‘actively works to maintain a low profile behind the CEOs he supports and the team he showcases’. Lannie is one of a very small number of major-company GCs whose careers include senior-level business, finance, and legal roles. His management of the legal department reflects this breadth. When discussing the highlights of his career he explains the following events: ‘The sale of $17bn worth of assets in the 24 months immediately preceding the current drop in oil prices from $100 per barrel to less than half that amount, the handling of which was core to Apache’s ability to manage the current price environment’. In addition, during Lannie’s tenure, the Apache legal team has settled major litigation under very favourable terms. Lannie has also tried major litigation to successful outcomes and has managed the purchasing of more than $20bn in assets. He has been instrumental to the seamless handling of the retirement of the company’s founder and the retirement of its first non-founder CEO, and has handled the company’s exits from two countries and from multiple distinct business units. Many of these strategic shifts included major domestic and international acquisitions and divestitures, which were facilitated by Lannie’s embedding of legal staff within every region and across subject matter boundaries.
Following her graduation from the University of Ottawa in 1998, Danielle Lavallée joined the large Canadian law firm Borden Ladner Gervais. Her work there focused primarily on the provision of corporate and commercial work for companies in electricity, gas, power generation and telecommunications. Lavallée made her mark with excellent legal support to various municipal electric utilities in the restructuring of Ontario’s electricity industry. She departed Borden Ladner Gervais in January 2004 to join Toronto Hydro Corporation, where she gained eight years of experience overseeing the legal and compliance function in an in-house capacity. The diverse experience of providing legal advice at the highest level in both in-house and private practice roles gave Lavallée a unique perspective when assuming the responsibility for Philips Canada’s legal division. As general counsel and member of Philips Canada’s Executive Management committee, Lavallée oversees all legal matters for the highly diversified business. During her time in the role, Lavallée has contributed to the improvement of the department’s reputation in the company and has developed a function that has come to be recognised for the speed and precision of its work.
Christopher Lemon joined First Quantum in 2007 as general counsel. ‘The offer was too good to turn down as it afforded me the opportunity to work in a rapidly expanding global mining company with operations, at the time, primarily in Africa (Zambia, DR Congo and Mauritania)’. As an executive and advisor to the board Lemon played a key role in developing and executing a strategic plan to grow the company through commodity and geographic diversification. Lemon has been described as a leader who is able to maintain a good balance between covering all legal bases and at the same time allowing senior managers to execute their growth strategies. One nominator explains how Lemon has contributed in many ways to First Quantum’s growth: ‘He is very knowledgeable about a broad range of corporate, securities, governance, litigation and technical issues. As a result, he can be hands on or take an oversight role. In either cases he maintains leadership of the legal function. So in my view, he has played a critical role in all of First Quantum’s acquisitions, in its litigation with ENRC (which was very successfully resolved) and in First Quantum’s financings’. Lemon has been instrumental in a number of monumental legal cases. When discussing his biggest achievements he points to a dispute in 2009/10, two of the company’s major assets in the Democratic Republic of Congo were arbitrarily expropriated. He led the company’s legal team through international arbitration in Paris and Washington, as well as litigation in the British Virgin Islands. This included representing the company’s joint venture partners the International Finance Corporation of the World Bank and the Industrial Development Corporation of South Africa. The dispute became an international media story, which triggered significant corporate governance discussions in the UK and Canada. The dispute involved the UK and Canadian governments, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the G12 and the Paris Club, all of which Lemon led. Speaking of the event he says, ‘we ultimately settled the dispute for $1.25bn. I am told this is the largest settlement in international arbitration history. This was a major victory not only for our shareholders, but also for raising the governance and business ethics flag in the fight against corporate and state corruption’.
Shaun Logue joined Brookfield Energy in 2011. He provides practical advice on litigation and commercial energy transactions he has had major litigation success in a number of cases. The changes made to the legal team include implementing processes and systems to ensure compliance with legal agreements. He oversees the legal aspects of the trading operations including drafting and negotiating energy contracts, manages litigation, oversees the company’s compliance program, and provides regulatory support. Prior to joining Brookfield he was an associate at Paul, Weiss Rifkind, Wharton and Garrison and also an associate at Gowlings for over five years. When asked how he calculates the value that he adds to the business he says that ‘giving an effective and practical assessment of risks allows the company to make decisions that are fully informed’. When discussing external factors that have impacted the business he cites that ‘market rule changes and political changes have greatly affected the renewable power industry. Trying to protect the company against those risks can be challenging. We try to overcome them by insisting on change of law protection in agreements and by supporting, from a compliance perspective, the lobbying efforts of the company’.
Gary Maavara is executive vice president and general counsel for Corus Entertainment, one of Canada’s largest integrated media and entertainment companies and owner of Global Television Network, Canada’s second most viewed channel. Maavara has occupied a number of senior positions during his 12 years at Corus, in a varied career that includes programme production duties during the 1994 Lillehammer Winter Olympics. Maavara began his career in the media industry as a talk-show producer in the 1970s. An encounter with one of the show’s guests, a leading Kremlinologist, encouraged him to study law. He has since become one of the most recognised figures in Canadian media law, known for his creativity, commerciality and innovation. He currently sits on the boards of Telelatino, Cosmopolitan Television Canada, Advertising Standards Canada (as treasurer), and Canadian Digital Media Network (CDMN). He has previously served as director of the Banff Media Festival, Toronto Y, UW Stratford, Dancer Transition Resource Centre, NABA, CAB and ABSOC. Prior to joining Corus, Maavara occupied a number of senior roles at Canwest Global Communications Corporation.
Lisa Marcuzzi has been the general counsel and corporate secretary at ArcelorMittal Dofasco since June 2013. Prior to this role, she specialised in commercial law with an emphasis on mergers and acquisitions and infrastructure financing. Marcuzzi has also utilised her legal expertise to become a contributing editor to the Business Law Reports. Marcuzzi is the legal mind behind various legal operations of the company and its subsidiaries, responsible for all legal and compliance matters and serving as ArcelorMittal country counsel, Canada and the ArcelorMittal Legal Entity Governance Regional Coordinator for the Americas. She was previously a committee member of ArcelorMittal Dofasco’s Corporate Community Investment Fund and is also an executive member and board member of the Adoption Council of Ontario.
Daniel Marion serves as vice president, general counsel and corporate secretary of the Canadian business of the global aerospace and defence company Thales. His tenure in the department is punctuated with impressive victories in the transactional arena and work to integrate the legal function in the commercial affairs of the company. Prior to assuming his current position, Marion spent a considerable amount of time at the company’s head office in Paris, where he worked as director of the corporate transaction department. In this position he impressed with his support of a number of acquisitions and strategic investments for Thales worldwide. Previous positions at Thales include stints as senior legal counsel, corporate transactions in Paris and vice president and legal director for Thales Canada and its Avionics business in Montreal. Prior to joining Thales in 2001, Marion worked in private practice in Montreal, specialising in business law litigation. At the onset of his professional career Marion worked as a staff member for a federal cabinet minister between 1980 and 1984. Marion holds a degree in political science and economics at Concordia University and a law degree from McGill University. He has been a member of the Quebec bar since 1988.
Jean Mayer, vice president of legal affairs at 5N Plus is a legal executive with 17 years’ international business experience. Mayer has been instrumental in a combination of corporate, commercial, securities, M&A, litigation and project finance legal skills. He has had substantial contribution in conceptualising, structuring, negotiating and closing sophisticated commercial and corporate transactions. He is described by peers as an outstanding team player with excellent interpersonal and communication skills, strong business acumen, analytical skills and a conscientious sense of responsibility and ethics. He wears multiple hats by applying his skills across a variety of industries and niche tasks. Some of which include general manufacturing, electronics, software and test engineering and natural resources, in a number of different countries. Mayer is praised for being a problem solver who is able to work in a demanding commercial environment with limited resources while remaining fully compliant and significantly reducing costs.
Senior vice president, general counsel and secretary at Empire Company and Empire’s subsidiary company, Sobeys, Karin McCaskill is described as the ‘model’ general counsel. She is praised for her ability to execute transactions and deal with complex litigation. In particular, McCaskill has recently gained credit for her handling of the food giant’s $5.8bn acquisition of Safeway Canada, giving the national grocer an even wider geographical footprint. The Sobeys deal was by no means a simple M&A transaction, it was a complex cross-border deal that spanned a range of legal issues from competition, tax and intellectual property to real estate, leasing and employment. It included a series of notable lending, public offering and real estate deals. McCaskill had to successfully handle the diverse aspects of the transaction and coordinate her 50 strong team, parallel to her in-house duties. Before joining Sobeys in 2002, McCaskill accumulated over 20 years of experience in private practice at the law firm Stewart McKelvey Stirling Scales. McCaskill has also distinguished herself by winning several prestigious awards, including ‘General Counsel of the Year’ in the 2014 Canadian General Counsel Awards.
Marc McClean is director of legal at leading green energy provider EDF EN Canada. McClean has been instrumental in a number of successful acquisitions across the region. When discussing his highlights he explains how he contributed to the development of the three largest wind projects in Canada, in particular the 300 MW black spring ridge wind project in Alberta, the largest project in Western Canada. Of this process he says that they ‘acquired it on a short and intense fuse with very little time to close and commence construction. In less than two months we diligenced the entire project and Alberta market place’. McClean has assisted the business to develop models to bring in external groups as partners in ways that ‘make sense for all the parties while creating competitive projects’. In his experience a well-run legal department removes from the business some of the noise that can hamper the objective of growth. When day-to-day legal issues are dealt with and a standard of conduct is put in place it allows senior executives to ultimately focus on the business as much as possible. McClean has been able to achieve this by not ‘hiding behind legal risk’ but by being proactive and understanding and managing it. Prior to this role he had a short stint as legal counsel at Shell Canada.
A brilliant lawyer, widely recognised for his long term vision for running legal processes in the energy sector and strong expertise in overseeing complex M&A transactions, David McCoy, has been general counsel and corporate secretary at one of Canada’s largest oil and gas producers Enerplus Corporation since December 2002. McCoy complements his responsibilities at the company with a role of vice president, general counsel and corporate secretary at Enermark, a subsidiary of Enerplus. Prior to joining Enerplus, McCoy spent a year at Encana, another leading Canadian energy company. He had a brief stint as vice president, general counsel and governmental affairs with Conoco Canada between 2000 and 2001, and before that worked for two years at Westcoast Energy and three years at Gulf Canada Resources. At the onset of his legal career, McCoy spent some time with Home Oil Company. McCoy is an alumnus of the University of Alberta, where he completed both his Bachelor’s degree in Commerce and an LL.B qualification.
Starting out as a private practice lawyer in 1997, Tracy Connelly McGilley accepted a position as securities counsel at Nortel Networks after a brief two year spell at a law firm. She spent a decade at the telecommunications company ultimately in the role of assistant general counsel – corporate until it’s filing for bankruptcy in 2009, after which she was recruited by Vector Aerospace. The new role of general counsel at the global aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul company was initially challenging for McGilley. ‘I had to learn to adapt to a new industry, globally’, she explains. In charge of both the legal and compliance function, McGilley’s structural improvements have been second to none. Apart from having standardised procedures and policies and rolled out new compliance programs, McGilley is also involved in all of the company’s material acquisitions and commercial agreements and has contributed to the creation of master agreements and the implementation and application of corporate governance initiatives in the day-to-day business activities. Well integrated into the senior structure of the company, McGilley is part of Vector’s senior management team and is proud of her impact on the strategic direction of the business. In particular she points out her involvement in the sale of Vector to Airbus group in 2011.
A highly experienced professional in Canada’s in-house legal community, James McLandress operates as the sole and first lawyer at Winnipeg Airports Authority (WAA). His achievements in this role are diverse and include fostering key relationships, introducing more robust and rigorous contract and legal risk management processes, and extensive labour relations work. WAA has undergone significant change in the way it plans to move forward. While the traditional approach was more risk averse, now the legal department is actively involved in advising the company on how best to capitalise on the opportunities presented. Prior to joining WAA in 2014, McLandress was general counsel at the Canadian Wheat Board where he worked on several very big cases, such as fights at the World Trade Organization (WTO) and fights against the Canadian Federal Government, as well as overseeing important individual deals. ‘Working on deals and cases like that is both fun and satisfying and you learn a lot. The big thing to me is the ability to work with people and achieve things. It isn’t about looking glamorous; it’s about getting the job done’, he explains. McLandress feels there is a common perception of lawyers as simply a “roadblock” and he has dedicated his entire career to combating this view. Apart from his legal work, McLandress is known for his involvement in a variety of non-profit organisations, such as the Institute of Corporate Directors, Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre, St. Mary’s Academy, and the Law Society of Manitoba. In addition to his role at Winnipeg Airports Authority, McLandress also teaches employment law at the University of Manitoba, where he previously studied.
After being called to the Quebec Bar in 1997, Caroline McNicoll started her career as a litigator in a medium-sized law firm in Quebec City. However, three years later an encounter with a client opened her eyes to the benefits of a career on the international scene. McNicoll went on to complete a Master’s degree in law with a specialisation in international business and upon graduation joined Bombardier Transportation, where she worked as a core member of a cross-functional team. After working for several years in a similar role at Quebecor World, the Canadian commercial and industrial printing company, McNicoll joined Pharmascience, where she currently serves as general counsel and corporate secretary. Since joining Pharmascience in 2007, McNicoll has significantly changed the legal department of the specialist pharmaceutical company, introducing changes mainly to adapt to the changing needs of the organisation and changing market conditions, and to continuously improve the quality of services. Notable improvements include proper technology systems for the management of legal and corporate secretariat files, standardisation of the legal procedures and documents and development of the corporate governance function. McNicoll is particularly proud of the evolution within a few short years of the legal function from a centralised ‘avoiding legal problems’ role to a cross-functional business team embedded across the entire organisation. McNicoll has made her mark on Pharmascience by building a highly skilled legal team that not only provides legal support, but became a true business partner and core member of each business unit of the company. Dedicated legal counsels are now part of the leadership team of all commercial business units and key centers of excellence and are empowered to closely collaborate with all stakeholders in alignment with the organisation’s strategic objectives. ‘I am proud to say that I have been able to develop a highly performing team that is recognised for its competency, its understanding of priorities, its sound judgment and for its enabling approach’, McNicoll states.
Described by peers as a ‘highly competent professional’, David Miller currently serves as chief legal officer and secretary at Canada’s national communications and media company, Rogers Communications, where he is responsible for providing general legal advice as well as ombudsman and corporate support. An established lawyer and a leader with a clear strategic vision, Miller has lead the legal function for over three decades through turbulent times, forging a highly integrated and effective unit. Miller receives praise for his expertise and understanding of complex M&A transactions and knowledge of commercial agreements, both of which have been essential ingredients for success in his time at the company. Prior to joining Rogers Communications in 1987 as the company’s first vice president and general counsel, Miller worked in private practice and served as general counsel at SNC-Lavalin, a major global engineering and construction business. In recognition for his exceptional contributions to Canada’s telecommunications and media industry, Miller recently received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Canadian General Counsel Association. Miller is a graduate of McGill University, where he received his Bachelor of Commerce qualification and a degree in Civil and Common Law.
Sheila Murray is executive vice president, general counsel and secretary of CI Financial. She plays a key role in directing the operations and setting corporate strategy for CI Financial and its operating companies, including CI Investments and Assante Wealth Management. As general counsel, she provides strategic, securities regulatory and governance advice to the company and its board of directors. Her activities include leading CI’s mentoring program, which fosters the advancement of high-potential female employees. Murray joined CI Financial in 2008, and was appointed president in 2016. Prior to CI Financial, Murray had a distinguished 25-year career at Blake, Cassels & Graydon, where she practised securities law with an emphasis on mergers and acquisitions, corporate finance and corporate reorganisations. She is currently Chair of the Dean’s Council at Queen’s University Law School, an adjunct professor at Osgoode Hall Law School, and taught securities regulation and corporate finance at University of Toronto’s Global Professional LL.M in Business Law Program for several years. Murray is a member of the board of director of the Aequitas NEO Exchange, a trustee of the Toronto Symphony Foundation and has been a director of a number of private and public companies. She also serves on the Business Law Advisory Council, which advises the Ontario government on the reform of corporate and commercial statutes. She was also a member of the Business Law Agenda Stakeholder Panel, an expert group whose recommendations led to the creation of the council in 2016, and acted for the Securities Advisory Committee to the Ontario Securities Commission and was part of a team who advised the Canadian securities regulators on the reformulation of securities regulation.
Peter Nguyen is well known for his outstanding leadership qualities as general counsel. He assumed his position at Resolver in January 2016 and prior to his current appointment he had been counsel to a number of companies in the technology and payments industries. His goal is to build a world class legal department to support and reflect a growing technology company with global ambitions. Nguyen continuously commends the work of his legal and business team, emphasising the importance of recognising their contribution; ‘being included on this list is a function of having a great team – one that works together well, supports one another and has fun with one another in order to achieve a common goal’. Nguyen takes pride in the fact that he trains and empowers his staff to make decisions with the result being that other members of the organisation have confidence working with them. He has had significant international experience, negotiating complex commercial contracts across multiple jurisdictions, managing international commercial arbitration and litigation and completing cross-border M&A transactions. Nguyen was the recipient of the 2015 International Law Office /Association of Corporate Counsel Global Counsel Award in the General Commercial category while he was general counsel of GuestLogix.
Kia has experienced unprecedented growth since Kay Nguyen joined the company in 2010. The Canadian business has been the fastest growing car company in the country, experiencing sales growth in excess of 100% over the last five years. As Kia has gained market share, and surpassed the sales volume of major competitors, Nguyen has advocated for greater industry involvement by her company and for the development of more effective relationships and communication with key regulators. As a result of her efforts, Kia Canada has taken on a greater leadership role in a number of industry initiatives and committees. The company is now more engaged in industry and regulatory developments and is increasingly encouraged, and able, to take these into consideration in business planning and strategy. Shortly after Nguyen took the role of general counsel at Kia, the organisation faced one of the biggest legal and public customer relations challenges in its history. Kia discovered that a number of procedural errors and regulatory interpretation issues meant that the fuel consumption figures for hundreds of thousands of Kia vehicles in North America might have to be restated. Because of legal and regulatory aspects, Nguyen was responsible for managing Kia Canada’s action plan on all fronts. ‘This involved leading Kia’s immediate and long-term crisis management strategy and PR and customer relations plan’, Nguyen explains. ‘I managed Kia Canada’s response to numerous class actions that needed to be coordinated with the US and Korea as well as a number of Canadian regulatory investigations and inquiries’. In the end, all class actions were settled swiftly, offering claimants compensation on par with Kia’s existing voluntary compensation program.
Ted Nieman began his legal career in 1973 and spent almost 20 years as a private practice lawyer. He became a partner at law firm Robertson Stromberg in 1977 and was made a senior partner in 1987. Nieman has been senior vice president of Canpotex Limited since 2001, general counsel and corporate secretary since 1993 and also serves as a member of the executive management group. Between 2001 and 2004 Nieman was chief operating officer, responsible for all legal operations. Nieman previously served as the chairman of the board of Claude Resources, between 2011 until 2014. He serves as a director of Canpotex (Hong Kong) Limited and serves as a director of all Canpotex subsidiaries and affiliates, demonstrating extensive commercial knowledge of the group of companies. He is a member of the Law Society of Saskatchewan and the Canadian Bar Association.
Eric Notkin, vice president, legal affairs of information technology consulting company CGI Group has contributed to the company’s “Build and Buy” growth strategy in a number of pioneering ways. Sources say he has ‘a proven track record of implementing creative, business-minded solutions within a multi-jurisdictional legal framework’. Notkin’s expertise focuses on corporate and commercial law and extends to a wide variety of commercial IT arrangements including multi-tier outsourcing, cloud offerings, licensing, joint ventures, software development, and M&A as well as related governance, intellectual property, risk management, litigation and human resources. He has a sterling reputation for having strong ethics and integrity in all that he does and prides himself for his exceptional communication and negotiation skills which makes him an accepted as a trusted adviser to senior executives. Notkin participates in a number of committee’s that drive the company forward. He is a member of the CGI Canada Cabinet Executive Committee and the Chairs Contract Practises Committee. In addition to his legal responsibilities with CGI, Notkin serves on the Planning and Development Committee and the Quality, Safety and Risk Management Committee of Mackenzie Health, a regional healthcare provider serving Southwest York Region.
Currently serving as general counsel, corporate secretary, chief privacy officer and senior vice president at Suncor Energy, Janice Odegaard holds responsibility for all legal and regulatory matters across the company and works closely with the board of directors on matters of corporate governance. Since joining the organisation two decades ago, Odegaard has added value to Suncor across a number of roles including vice president for project services in the major projects group and vice president for corporate and legal affairs. Odegaard’s most impressive achievement at the helm of the legal function at Suncor Energy has been forming a clear direction and vision of the department over the years, as well as gaining recognition from her ‘front office’ colleagues. Outside of Suncor, Odegaard serves as director of the board of the Legal Education Society of Alberta and serves on the advisory board of Lilith Professional, an organisation that provides mentoring programs for professional women. In recognition for her impressive achievements in the legal arena, Odegaard was named among the 100 top powerful women in 2011 by Women’s Executive Network and received the 2011 Women in Leadership Award.
Leslie O’Donoghue has been recognised by peers across the board for her contribution to the legal field and in 2013, she received an Alberta Queen’s Counsel Appointment for her outstanding contributions to legal and public life. O’Donoghue currently is responsible for a number of operations including corporate development strategy, environmental, safety and security, sustainability and stakeholder relations, government relations and risk management. Over the years, O’Donoghue has taken on a myriad of roles within the company, including chief legal officer, senior vice president, business development, general counsel and corporate secretary. O’Donoghue is also a member of the board of directors for Pembina Pipeline Corporation and United Way of Calgary.
David Onorato joined Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) as general counsel in 2015 following the retirement of the much respected David Allgood. Onorato arrived with considerable in-house and private practice expertise in the field of banking litigation and is seen by many as a natural successor to lead the bank’s legal operations at a time when financial institutions are operating under increased legal risk and regulatory scrutiny. Onorato served as global director of litigation at Bank of America between 2004 and 2008 before moving to Freshfields as a litigation and regulatory enquiries partner, a position he occupied until joining RBC last year. He previously spent a decade as partner at King & Spalding, dealing with securities and commercial litigation.
Since April 2015, Lorne O’Reilly is responsible for all Canadian legal services for Dow Chemical Canada, Dow AgroSciences Canada and other affiliates. O’Reilly manages corporate governance, secretarial, general corporate, employment, dispute resolution, risk management and regulatory matters. O’Reilly also assists Dow’s US legal and Canadian executive team to manage pension, privacy and foreign corrupt practices matters. O’Reilly was previously general counsel for Superior Plus. and a number of its business divisions, including Superior Propane and Winroc-SPI. He provided leadership in all legal matters and a number of business units, including real estate, insurance, privacy, pensions and record retention. O’Reilly was the winner of the 2014 Innovation Award in the Tomorrow’s Leader category, from Canadian Lawyer In-house Magazine. He is also President of the Alberta Chapter of the Association of Corporate Counsel.
Anthony Pagano brings an extensive, high-profile international career in private practice and a strong understanding of business fundamentals to his role of chief counsel for M&A at Royal Bank of Canada (RBC). An in-house lawyer whose sole focus is on company mergers and acquisitions in Canada is rare, which requires Pagano to flexibly supervise the work of external counsel on key projects for the company. During his long-standing career as the global head and founding member of his unit since 1999, Pagano has managed and been involved in a number of complex and transformational M&A transactions, including the acquisition of Ally Financial’s Canadian operations and the US$4.5bn takeover of Citi National, which served as a major expansion for the bank into the US. In addition to his impressive transactional work, under Pagano’s leadership RBC’s M&A Law Practice Group was honored as the winner of the International Law Office Global Counsel Awards in the M&A category.
Currently leading the legal efforts of Home Depot’s Canada business, Sarah Qadeer manages enterprise risk and supervises a team of corporate lawyers, while providing business-minded advice on a wide array of matters including commercial negotiations, competition, privacy, product liability, consumer protection, anti-corruption and marketing and advertising law. After graduating from McGill Law Faculty, Qadeer’s legal career began as an associate in the corporate and securities law practice of one of Canada’s major national firms, McCarthy Tétrault. She then made her move in-house joining the legal department of an investment bank, BMO Nesbitt Burns, eventually becoming vice president and legal counsel. Apart from her remarkable achievements to improve the operation of Home Depot’s legal department in the form of hiring a team of talented lawyers, introducing fixed fee arrangements for work with outside counsel and creating templates, checklists and training decks for a number of business lines, Qadeer has also become a valued and vocal part of the senior leadership team on issues beyond legal. More specifically, Qadeer is proud if her involvement in the Incident Response Team of the global enterprise, as well as being the Canadian lead on crisis management issues. ‘I led the Canadian team on the data breach response and while challenging, it was also very rewarding and appreciated’, she asserts. One of Qadeer’s biggest challenges has been supporting the business in a period of growth with a limited availability of resources. This has required innovative and strategic thinking on when and how to deploy resources. More recently Qadeer has been dealing with rapid and comprehensive regulatory changes to privacy and anti-spam laws that has required keeping up with Competition Bureau guidelines and keeping pace with changes to product liability requirements. Qadeer effectively tackled this challenge by using outside counsel as partners, by networking and sharing extensively with other GCs, and by joining industry groups and CLO groups for knowledge sharing.
Charlene Ripley, general counsel for Goldcorp, boasts 25 years’ experience in the field of corporate law. Ripley has an impressive list of achievements that includes building LINN Energy through numerous acquisitions ranging from several hundred million dollars to over $15bn in market cap, completed in just over five years with the company. Among her biggest corporate highlights Ripley lists managing Anadarko’s 2006 acquisition of Kerr-McGee and Western Gas Resources. These were two separate public company acquisitions totalling over $21bn that were announced on the same day. Managing through the 2008 market crisis proved particularly hard, and Ripley had to make sure that the compliance function remained fit for purpose. ‘Keeping on top of all relevant information and making sure that my management team and board were fully aware of pending regulatory and compliance changes. Also ensuring the companies I worked at have appropriate risk management systems’. Ripley takes pride in her talent in being able to successfully restructure the legal teams she has worked with. Some of the change she is particularly proud of is when she strengthened the communication between legal team members, using quarterly team calls, yearly and strategy sessions; increased level of oversight and management of legal costs and moved away from practice of non-lawyers retaining outside counsel without in-house counsel’s involvement.
An outstanding lawyer with great managerial skills, Isabelle Robitaille has had a highly impressive legal career with a distinct focus on pharmaceuticals. In 2000, she started articling at Paquette Gadler, where she worked on a number of cases for the pharmaceutical industry, before joining Shire Biochem in 2002. After a couple of years there and a short spell at Abbott Laboratories, Robitaille joined Sanofi as a senior legal counsel. Her first in-house managerial role was at the startup Labopharm, where Robitaille spent two years of her career (2010-2012). Robitaille joined her current employer Sandoz in 2014 initially as senior lawyer responsible for legal and governmental affairs and has very quickly risen through the ranks to the position of director for legal affairs. In her current role Robitaille is the legal counsel responsible for all M&A transactions, interacting with the President on a frequent basis and constantly looking for contacts to form synergies with other businesses. Robitaille has made a number of pivotal changes to the legal department that have increased the quality of legal service. ‘Over my time in the role, the department has changed quite a bit,’ she says. ‘We have reshuffled the workload a lot and responsibilities are now aimed at a more dedicated type of service’. She is praised for her achievements throughout her career and is described by her colleagues as a ‘person of integrity’.
Shannon Rogers started her legal career working on Bay Street in Toronto for a couple of years before realising that she would prefer the commercial exposure of an in-house legal role. Rogers’ strong entrepreneurial spirit and commercial drive pushed her to leave her law firm at the time, Borden Ladner Gervais, and join Global Relay, a Vancouver based IT company that only had three employees. During her 12 year time at the company, Global Relay has grown into an organisation with over $30m revenue and more than 200 employees based in offices in New York, Chicago, London, Singapore and Shanghai. Well known for her resilient personality and her ability to find ways to navigate complex challenges, even when they look like impenetrable obstacles, Rogers has been able to see Global Relay through a period of unprecedented growth. She formed and grew a successful team to meet the ever increasing legal needs of the company. Rogers has received many awards for her leadership and entrepreneurial merit, including Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year, Canada’s Top 100 Most Powerful Women, Top 10 Influential Women in BC Techin, and BC Women Entrepreneur.
Canada’s prime minister Justin Trudeau caught the media’s attention earlier this year with his confident response to a journalist’s question about quantum computing, a subject rarely discussed outside the world of theoretical physics. Canada-based D-Wave Systems has, since it was founded in 1999, been among the leading companies in the race to build a practical quantum computer, potentially allowing for much faster calculations than even the most advanced existing supercomputer. General counsel and director of intellectual property Tanya Rothe joined D-Wave in 2005 and has since been dealing with the challenges of protecting IP on a product that has almost no commercial precedent. Rothe’s time with the company has already been marked by impressive milestones. In 2011, D-Wave sold its first computer to Lockheed Martin for use in the testing of aircraft designs and satellite systems. In 2013 the company launched D-Wave Two and has since moved to work with Google and NASA-backed venture, The Quantum Artificial Intelligence Lab. Rothe trained as a chemical engineer before moving into law, something which she cites as a useful experience in conceptualising the extensive and hugely complex IP portfolio at D-Wave Systems. Prior to moving into the world of quantum computing she was intellectual property counsel at Ballard Power Systems where she was responsible for the IP portfolio across the company’s US materials and electric drive and power conversion divisions.
In his position of senior vice president for commercial and legal affairs at Teck Resources, a Canadian metals and mining company, Peter Rozee manages a team of flexible lawyers spread across Canada, United States and Chile. Over the past 10 years Rozee has been involved in a wide variety of prominent deals, including the company’s $14.8bn purchase of the Fording River coal mine and its $825m sale of its stake in the Waneta hydro-electric dam. Rozee has been at Teck since 2001 and has been in charge of the legal department since April 2010, having seen a continued change in the way the company operates. Prior to joining Teck he accumulated nearly a decade of experience working in-house at Inmet Mining Corporation serving as general counsel between 1993 and 2001. Over recent years Rozee has grown the legal department at Teck Resources in line with business expansion through several acquisitions. His work to bring more work in-house has been recognised, as well as his efforts to promote the legal team within Teck Resources.
Jay Safer assumed the position of vice president, general counsel and secretary of IBM Canada in 2001. Prior to joining IBM, Safer worked in a mid-size full service law firm combining both corporate work and commercial litigation. Within IBM he worked solely within the legal department, having at some point legal responsibility for every area of the company. He claims, ‘the opportunity to take on management responsibilities came early and grew over time’. He has been fundamental towards the high expertise levels and productivity of his team and when discussing his career highlights he says, ‘I know that I am fortunate to be able to say that we have hired some of the best lawyers in Canada. The respect we have for each other, and the true collegial and sharing spirit resulting, flowed easily and naturally’. Safer has taken a guiding role in ensuring the legal department is recognised within the company as adding tremendous value. He achieves this through negotiations where he is mindful of ensuring the business is aware of requests which would impact the financial deal and solution expectations. He also encourages brainstorming in order to analyse complex presentations for customers. His team truly has achieved recognition for bringing value-added to the table. He states that he has managed to achieve this through a number of factors which he believes his team brings to the table: ‘Experience, insight, analytical ability, and personality have helped develop these relationships where legal input affects strategic direction. A win-win situation for sure’. Lately he has been particularly proactive in concentrating on developing subject matter expertise, product and business knowledge, increased use of tools, personal development including continuing legal education, productivity, community, and accountability.
Thomas Santram has been vice president legal and chief privacy officer of Cineplex Entertainment since 2008, Canada’s largest motion picture server, with approximately 70 million customers annually, and operating 134 theatres across Canada. Santram is tasked with all aspects of Cineplex’s operations, including real estate law, commercial law, privacy law, and government relations. A highly experienced professional, Santram is involved in the implementation of new initiatives and negotiations of commercial agreements. Prior to joining Cineplex, Santram practiced commercial real estate law and represented clients in the public and private sectors, including financial firms and land developers. Santram was instrumental in the acquisitions and other real estate-related cases for one of Ontario’s largest public school boards.
Though a litigator by training, Joanna Scott, corporate secretary and vice president of corporate services at Mullen, has excelled in a corporate law environment. Prior to joining Mullen, Scott was a litigation lawyer at Dentons Canada. She recalls how her transition was a learning curve and that she appreciates the faith Mullen had in her from the out-set: ‘I was primarily hired to be the corporate secretary, I wasn’t hired to be legal. I was very thankful that they allowed me to set up the legal department, just recognising that there was that gap in the company’. She concedes that the legal support of Mullen’s business units wasn’t the initial aim but the legal team turned out to be a fundamental part of the company. She highlights that her contribution comes from a cost saving aspect: ‘I think it’s very important to save hundreds, even thousands in legal fees, which is strategic to our oilfield services segment at this time. In this type of economic market many of our investors were quite pleased with the performance of the company’. Scott also spearheaded a private placement in October 2015 for $400m, which led them to undertaking the acquisition of Manitoba-based Gardewine Group Limited Partnership worth $172m. This bolstered their revenue significantly during the economic downturn. Her most rewarding moments are realising that she is a valued part of the company, which comes to fruition when people from various departments and business units come to her for assistance. ‘The fact that they come to me for my opinion, the fact that our business units seek my advice and the respect I get from senior executives. They keep me in the loop when I can’t be there, which makes me feel like they value me as a member of their team’.
Lori Shalhoub has been with Chrysler for 17 years and is among the most respected corporate counsel in the country. She played a leading role in the much publicised negotiations over Chrysler Canada’s $1.6bn liabilities related to retirement benefits. Shalhoub continues to play an active role in helping to ensure the company is able to provide for its next generation of workers. Shalhoub is also responsible for government affairs and regularly campaigns alongside other prominent members of the auto industry. Managing 440 independent dealers has proved to be just as big a challenge for the Chrysler legal team, with a range of issues covering everything from collective bargaining to corporate finance to contend with. But, according to Shalhoub, the picture remains positive: ‘Overcoming these challenges when in a recession can be difficult, however a high point was our strategic alliance with Fiat’. Shalhoub says she calculates the value that she adds to the business on ‘a cost avoidance [basis] where the regulations and implications for the company [are weighed in order to show how we are] minimising risk or exposure’.
David Shapiro is senior vice president and chief legal officer of Air Canada. An expert in aircraft financing and leasing transactions, Shapiro joined predecessor company Canadian Airlines International in 1997 and helped lead it through restructuring of its debt and lease obligations prior to the its amalgamation with Air Canada in 2001. Shapiro then played a key role in Air Canada’s restructuring in 2004, the same year in which he was appointed general counsel and member of the executive team. Shapiro’s longstanding interest in aircraft financing structures helped to revolutionise commercial aviation transactions in Canada. Since the early 1990s he has been exploring enhanced equipment trust certificates (EETC), US capital markets products involving the acquisition of equipment through a trust or special purpose vehicle, allowing airlines to unlock asset-based sources of financing secured against their fleets. This source of financing had previously been unavailable in Canada due to the legal obstacles creditors faced in securing assets. Recognising this problem, Shaprio served as a delegate to the Unidroit-ICAO Joint Sessions for the Cape Town Convention, which had been established in 1988 to overcome the problem lex situs rules pertaining to the location of debtors presented to equipment financing. The result of this long process was an international treaty committing signatory nations to agree the transfer to creditors of aircraft belonging to financially distressed airlines in their jurisdiction if repayments or debt restructuring are not arranged. Canada signed the Cape Town Convention in 2004 and ratified it in 2013, introducing the enabling legislation for a new form of debt financing for Canada-based airlines. Almost immediately, Shapiro helped Air Canada to capitalise on this new provision by raising over US$700m through an EETC offering, helping the airline to acquire five new passenger aircraft. The airline has since gone on to issue further debt, helping it remain one of the leading companies in a fiercely competitive market.
Widely recognised by peers and clients alike for his ability to use his excellent judgment skills and ability to weigh legal and commercial risk in the context of a bigger commercial picture, Brian Swartz has over 15 years of combined in-house experience at the highest level. Currently in charge of the legal division at the Canadian construction giant Aecon, Swartz has an executive responsibility for managing a broad portfolio of corporate services including, but not limited to, legal, corporate secretarial, strategic planning services and risk. A recognition for Swartz’s efforts at the helm of the department since 2012, has been the 2013 award of distinction granted to Aecon’s legal team for the “Best Canadian Legal Department” by the International Legal Alliance in Paris. In addition to his legal role, Swartz is chair of the Aecon Project Review Committee, a member of the Executive Committee and serves on the majority of the boards of directors for its wholly owned subsidiaries. Swartz’s previous experience is marked by his participation in major and well known infrastructure and P3 initiatives in Canada and abroad such as Highway 407, Cross Israel Toll Highway, Nathpa Jhakri Hydroelectric Power Project (India), Pearson International Airport (Toronto), Darlington Nuclear Refurbishment and many others. In addition to his professional victories, Swartz is known for his public sector initiatives, having previously served as counsel to the Province of Ontario advising on innovative approaches to service delivery, commercialisation and outsourcing. Swartz also serves as a member of the Canadian Surety Association, as well as the Canadian Construction Association.
During his time in the role of vice president, general counsel and corporate secretary at the Canadian electric power and natural gas utility company Manitoba Hydro, Ken Tennenhouse has recruited a high proportion of his 38 strong team. Apart from expanding what used to be a small function, under Tennenhouse’s management the department has taken on regulatory and other functions, including compliance. This has been particularly beneficial as Manitoba Hydro now sells energy to the US and that process required significant coordination between the internal legal, regulatory and compliance functions. ‘We still use external counsel, but we have achieved our aim to have a legal team that provides a similar level of service to a small or medium sized law firm’. After the early 1990s and 2000s when the energy industry in the country was undergoing deregulation, Tennenhouse has been more regularly called upon to influence the strategic direction of Manitoba Hydro. The legal team ‘became required to produce a report and present it to the board on how utility can be applied. We were also called upon to provide assistance on the changes of the company strategy’, he clarifies. Tennenhouse’s in-house legal career of several decades includes a plethora of remarkable achievements. Relatively early in his career, in the 1990s, Tennenhouse provided crucial legal assistance to what he describes as a ‘mega’ project, the construction of a generating station on the Nelson River northern Manitoba. His work involved contracts, license registration, tender agreements and many other high-pressured legal tasks. More recently, Tennenhouse has made an impression with his governance initiatives, the mandatory compliance program that he has implemented, as well as other compliance training initiatives, a whistle blowing project, and other crucial work on regulation.
As with many other in-house lawyers in Canada, Chantal Thibault started her legal career in private practice, initially working as an associate at Goodmans in Toronto in the corporate and securities law practices. Thibault has been with OMERS Private Equity since April 2007, initially starting as their general counsel working on corporate transactions and subsequently becoming managing director, legal. Since joining OMERS, Thibault has contributed immensely to the growth of the legal department, which was necessary to facilitate the changing strategy within the company. She has made exceptional hiring decisions that have led to the formation of a strong team that demonstrates the high levels of flexibility and commitment necessary to support business activities across three separate offices. Thibault has managed a number of impressive transactions in her career, but takes particular pride in her work to ensure that the legal department is used to support all of the activities of the company, she says: ‘We are in the business of buying businesses, so I don’t think any transaction is more important than the next one. What I’m really proud of is building the right team and ensuring that our team is used to the best of our abilities, so that we can add the most value’. As a result of Thibault’s efforts, the legal department is being used as a close partner to the investment teams, allowing them to actively impact the strategic direction of the business. ‘We’re not just a rubber stamp at the end of the process’, she explains but ‘work with the investment teams from the beginning of a transaction; analysing the best way to balance the legal risks against the commercial priorities and while doing so we help shape the transactions and the direction of our investments’.
Prior to going in-house, Ricardo Trecroce practiced corporate law for 15 years with Fraser Milner Casgrain (now Dentons) in Toronto and for three years with Parlee McLaws in Edmonton, Alberta. In 2000 Trecroce joined Patheon, a provider of pharmaceutical manufacturing and development services, where he took on the role of general counsel, senior vice president for administration and corporate secretary. After six years in this role Trecroce was asked to take on the role of CEO for the company, in order to steer it through a period of stabilisation, refinancing and restructuring. Lasting over a year, his term in the position is characterised by an improvement in Patheon’s operating performance by 27% and effective management of the transition to a new CEO. Trecroce has been able to apply this commercial experience to his current role as vice president and general counsel for America and Asia at Magna International, a global automotive supplier, as he brought noticeable improvements to the performance of the legal function, led an array of M&A and other transactions and made significant contributions to strategic decision-making. In addition to these achievements, Trecroce has also won wide recognition in the Canadian in-house community through his victories in several legal cases.
As the general counsel at Iovate Health Sciences International Roch Vaillancourt oversees 16 professionals handling compliance, regulatory, safety assurance and corporate affairs. Vaillancourt has spent large parts of his career in business and is known for his commercial acumen. After his last solo mandate in 2006 Vaillancourt decided to go back to in-house as senior counsel. Within five months he was promoted to assistant general counsel and director of legal and eventually took over as general counsel in 2012. He continued the work he had started during his tenure as director of the legal department, to maximise in-house efficiency. Vaillancourt facilitated that by replacing generalist lawyers with specialists in their respective fields. He internalised the Global Trademark Portfolio Management, while optimising patent prosecution with external vendors. An eDiscovery platform was also implemented, and an early case assessment approach to litigation management was adopted minimising costs and disruption to the business. Vailancourt says that even though he is proud of his performance in those high-stake negotiations he doesn’t consider it his best achievement: ‘I personally believe my greatest achievement to date is having built such an extremely talented, lean, versatile and efficient legal team. I am a business enable rather than a show stopper. It’s easy to lower risk, by saying “no” to everything, but that’s a deadly proposition for a business and a short lived career for a GC. Therefore, my value add to the business lies in my ability to lead a team that can keep the playing field as clean as possible, for the business to play out its game and win. When done well, the business doesn’t even think about how clean it is or who cleaned it, they then just focus on winning’.
A lawyer with 26 years’ worth of experience in private practice, George Valentini made his move in-house in July 2013 to oversee the legal function at Dream Unlimited, a leading Canadian real estate company that manages urban intensification, master planned communities and income properties. Currently serving as the executive vice president, general counsel and secretary, Valentini’s previous private practice experience allowed him to bring a unique perspective to his business, significantly improving the quality of in-house legal service supplied internally. During Valentini’s legal practice, he was involved in every conceivable aspect of real estate law, leading transactions such as Dream Office REIT’s (formerly Dundee REIT) public take-over of Whiterock REIT and its acquisition of Scotia Plaza, one of Canada’s largest office complexes located in Toronto’s financial district.
Seasoned lawyer in the Canadian energy sector, Peter Volk holds both an MBA qualification and an LL.B degree from York University in Toronto. Volk’s strong commercial background allows him to combine his duties of general counsel at the Canadian oil company Pacific Exploration & Production, formerly known as Pacific Rubiales, with the role of vice president of communications for North America. Most recently, Volk oversaw the legal elements of the potential sale of Pacific to a large Mexican company in a transaction that would have amounted to $7bn, with the transaction ultimately being rejected by shareholders in July 2015. Alongside his role at Pacific Exploration & Production, Volk also serves as the general counsel of Caribbean Resources Corporation, until recently known as Pacific Coal, a business operation in Colombia.
Chris von Boetticher has spent the majority of his career working as an in-house lawyer at his current employer CI Investments, where he was promoted to general counsel in 2008. Previous positions include a role at BPI financial and two roles in private practice. A highly intelligent lawyer with strong leadership qualities, von Boetticher has played a key role in growing the legal department at CI Investments, in-sourcing legal work and significantly reducing the legal department’s total spend. In addition, von Boetticher implemented a document management system and has increased the number of female lawyers working in the department. The highlight of von Boetticher’s career has been assisting in the acquisition and integration of the numerous businesses CI Investments has purchased during his tenure. In one case, the company acquired three separate businesses over a period of just three months. He says: ‘These acquisitions helped propel the company from one of many medium-sized fund management companies in Canada to where we are currently as the largest independent fund company in the country’. The biggest factor affecting CI and the Canadian asset management industry has been the volume and pace of regulatory changes. Regulators across Canada and globally, especially since 2008, have been augmenting existing regulations and introducing new regulations. This has required von Boetticher’s department to assign resources to focus on keeping abreast of regulatory changes, communicating those changes to the business and assisting with the implementation of changes resulting from new regulations.
Annelle Wilkins was appointed senior vice president and general counsel for HSBC Bank Canada in November 2007. She initially joined HSBC in 1995, and has held progressively more senior roles within the bank’s legal department in Canada. Prior to joining HSBC, she practiced at a national law firm. Very early in her career Wilkins was nominated for an award for her actions in support of diversity. She admits that this came as a shock to her and believes she was simply doing what she thought was common sense; this was when she realised she could become an advocate for it in her industry. This has led Wilkins to taking on the role as the new BC Regional Chair for Legal Leaders for Diversity and Inclusion, a national initiative launched by Canadian general counsel in May 2011. It has 60 other signatories throughout the country, including general counsel from Deloitte, Kellogg’s, Bell and RBC to name a few. Wilkins anticipates the movement will have a significant impact on diversity in law.
Responsible for the Canadian legal operations of the Botox-manufacturer Allergan, Jim Willoughby has recently distinguished himself with his work on the company’s efforts to fight off a US$53bn hostile takeover bid jointly launched by Quebec-based Valeant Pharmaceuticals and activist shareholder Bill Ackman. Seven months later, Allergan was sold to UK-based Actavis for an improved value of US$66bn, making it one of the biggest M&A deals in 2014 and the largest pharmaceutical deal in a decade. Willoughby’s contribution to the successful outcome of the takeover has been immense, orchestrating everything from crisis management to dealing with competition, tax and securities issues. In charge of a lean legal team that supervises all affairs across Canada, Willoughby favours a flexible and cross-functional approach to legal work. Prior to joining Allergan, Willoughby worked at Roche/Genentech as general counsel and before that at the intellectual property firm Gowling Lafleur Henderson.
Dave Leonard, Partner and Chief Executive Officer
We are delighted to congratulate the counsel named in the inaugural GC Powerlist Canada. The impact these remarkable individuals have made on their companies, on the legal profession and on the Canadian business landscape cannot be overstated. They are innovators, entrepreneurs and leaders who have left an indelible mark on our country’s economy. Next year, Canada will mark its 150th anniversary of being a nation. A nation of innovators and explorers, with a rich cultural history encompassing our indigenous people as well as new Canadians who have built their families and businesses here. This is a country still youthful and vibrant, brimming with opportunities for Canadian and international business.
Canada is one of the 10 largest industrialized countries in the world. In fact, the World Economic Forum has declared our banking system to be the soundest in the world – for the eighth consecutive year. Our economy is robust, with strong inbound and outbound investment, a thriving technology sector, and significant activity in many of the industries on which the Canadian market was built, including retail, mining, agriculture, power, infrastructure, financial services and real estate. Canada continues to be an attractive market for foreign investment. With major international trade treaties either in existence or near completion, foreign investors will be best positioned in Canada to benefit from assured preferential access. Our country is exceptionally well-placed to continue to show a strong record of growth as we have over the past decade.
McCarthy Tétrault is excited to support the prestigious GC Powerlist as they recognize those who continue to drive the legal industry forward. Many law firms resist change, content to maintain traditional ways of doing business and serving clients. But we see things differently, through a lens of opportunity, welcoming the demands of our evolving industry by developing innovative tools and solutions for our clients. Our firm provides a broad range of legal services, advising on large and complex assignments for Canadian and international interests. Built on a unique model of collaboration, innovation and efficiency, we offer unequalled legal talent, industry knowledge and practice experience. We efficiently deliver customised legal services to help our clients achieve the results that are important to them in the industries that drive Canadian business.
On behalf of all partners at McCarthy Tétrault, I applaud the corporate counsel included in the GC Powerlist Canada. We are inspired by the drive demonstrated by this exceptional group of counsel to tackle the current economic and business challenges, to harness the power of new technology, and to ask more from their law firms. I urge the international business and legal communities to look to Canada as it remains to be a great place to invest, work and live.
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