Canada: Corporate Governance 2017

In this chapter, we list 34 individuals who advise boards of directors, independent committees, management teams and shareholder groups on corporate governance policy and best practice. They specialise in sensitive corporate disclosure and governance issues and guide their clients through complex and changeable legislative and regulatory environments. Below we highlight some of the most highly regarded practitioners in this year’s research.

Most Highly Regarded
1. Jeffrey Lloyd Blake Cassels & Graydon, Toronto
2. Stephen Halperin Goodmans, Toronto
3. Edward Waitzer Stikeman Elliott, Toronto
4. Jonathan Lampe Goodmans, Toronto
5. Carol Hansell Hansell, Toronto

“Seven sisters” firm DAVIES WARD PHILLIPS & VINEBERG tops our research this year with five leading lawyers included.
Former managing partner Patricia Olasker has built a stellar reputation in the market as a key adviser to boards of directors, committees and shareholder groups. Noted by sources for having “advised on a number of very complex corporate transactions and related governance issues”, she leverages her extensive experience in capital markets to provide nuanced counsel to her clients.
William Ainley is regarded as the go-to choice for many seeking guidance on corporate governance matters in Quebec. He is held in particularly high regard for his work with special committees due to his comprehensive knowledge of takeovers and leveraged acquisitions.
The vastly experienced Richard Cherney is another well-regarded practitioner at the firm. His own directorships with several public companies enable him to anticipate the needs of his clients, who commend him for his practical and commercially astute counsel.

STIKEMAN ELLIOTT follows closely behind with an impressive four listings, including the internationally acclaimed Edward Waitzer. As head of the firm’s corporate governance group, he helps clients negotiate Ontario’s shifting regulatory environment and is hailed by one respondent as “probably the best lawyer working in the field; a good mix of practitioner and academic.”
Firm chair William Braithwaite is described by sources as “a leading corporate adviser with an excellent reputation” and “a senior statesman on corporate finance advisory issues”. His insight is sought by the full range of actors in the corporate governance space, from governments and regulatory bodies to boards of directors, committees and institutional shareholders.
John Leopold’s background as an internationally recognised private equity and M&A practitioner provides the foundation for his superb corporate governance practice. With more than 35 years’ experience advising clients from a variety of industries across the world, he offers a wealth of corporate expertise to his stable of boardroom clients.

BLAKE CASSELS & GRAYDON is the first of five firms to achieve three nominees in this chapter. Executive committee member Jeffrey Lloyd enjoys a superb reputation in the market and leads our research this year. He is regarded as one of the key figures in the Canadian capital markets bar whose profound knowledge of securities regulatory matters make him a valued adviser to public companies in a number of industries.
In Brock Gibson QC, the firm boasts a renowned authority on corporate and securities law matters with experience serving on a number of boards, while clients cite Michael Gans’ experience on New York’s Securities Regulation Committee as being key to the success of his practice.

William Orr at FASKEN MARTINEAU DUMOULIN is a dedicated corporate governance practitioner and one of three nominees at the firm. His roster of clients, which includes boards of directors, independent committees and institutional investors, values his expertise across the spectrum of corporate matters, particularly financial instruments regulation.
Marshalling over 30 years’ experience, Robert Paré is another prominent practitioner at the firm. He is acknowledged as a leading light for his work with distressed companies, guiding them through change of control transactions and recapitalisation proceedings.
On the west coast, Donald Dalik elicits praise from clients for his meticulous approach and agility in responding to rapidly evolving corporate environments.

GOODMANS’ three nominees are led by the impressive Stephen Halperin. He is a knowledgeable and proficient adviser on the full gamut of corporate and securities matters and clients single out his guidance on shareholder activism, including shareholder resolutions, EGM proposals and change of control transactions.
Securities expert Jonathan Lampe is held in extremely high regard by his peers for his counsel to a variety of parties, including issuers, boards of directors and special committees. He is praised for his expertise on a broad array of governance matters, including the conduct of investigations, the development of strategic initiatives and the effective management of activist shareholders.
National chair Dale Lastman rounds out the firm’s nominees. He is regarded as an outstanding practitioner in the corporate governance space with a wealth of experience as both a leading corporate lawyer and a director of several large companies.

At BENNETT JONES, Barry Reiter leads the corporate governance and director protection practice and provides comprehensive guidance to his prominent client list, which includes boards of directors, officers, trustees and institutional shareholders.  His exhaustive knowledge of the regulatory landscape surrounding D&O liability marks him out as one of the pre-eminent figures in the area.
Marvin Yontef is another key part of the firm’s governance offering. He leverages his corporate expertise to provide strategic and legal advice to company directors. His knowledge of shareholder activism – especially the use of proxy solicitations – is highlighted in particular.

Three practitioners are nominated at NORTON ROSE FULBRIGHT, including governance and director liability chair Thierry Dorval. He is regularly engaged by major publically listed US and Canadian companies to advise on governance policy and best practice.  He is joined by well-respected transactional specialist Michael Lang as well as Walied Soliman, who is considered a rising star for his dynamic approach to negating shareholder activism.

Praised as a “recognised expert on corporate governance matters”, Carol Hansell heads the dedicated team at HANSELL, her own corporate governance boutique. She is engaged by boards of directors, management teams, special committees and institutional shareholders across the piece, from the review, design and implementation of governance principles to board evaluations and investigations.

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Nominees have been selected based upon comprehensive, independent survey work with both general counsel and private practice lawyers worldwide. Only specialists who have met independent international research criteria are listed.

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