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Law firm Heenan Blaikie was dissolved last week and many of its lawyers and practice groups have since jumped to other firms. (Christinne Muschi/The Globe and Mail)
Law firm Heenan Blaikie was dissolved last week and many of its lawyers and practice groups have since jumped to other firms. (Christinne Muschi/The Globe and Mail)

With no merger in sight, Heenan lawyers flee to disparate firms Add to ...

Smaller groups of lawyers have continued departing from Heenan Blaikie LLP as it becomes increasingly likely there will be no single deal for a larger group to merge with another firm.

Dentons Canada LLP said Tuesday it will take at least 23 lawyers from Heenan’s Toronto and Montreal offices, but the deal appears to include far fewer people than the 60 to 70 lawyers that were initially seeking a deal. Dentons did not name the lawyers it expects to join the firm, but said negotiations are continuing and the number could increase.

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In the meantime, other law firms announced smaller deals to take more Heenan lawyers on Wednesday, continuing an exodus that began over two weeks ago. Heenan announced last week it is closing its doors in an “orderly wind-up” as it struggled to compete in a changing legal environment.

Baker & McKenzie, a global law firm with a Canadian office in Toronto, said Wednesday it has hired 13 former Heenan lawyers from Toronto, led by corporate and securities lawyers Kevin Rooney and Sonia Yung. Both Mr. Rooney and Ms. Yung have long experience with corporate transactions such as takeovers, securities offerings and corporate reorganizations.

Kevin Coon, Baker & McKenzie’s managing partner in Toronto, said his firm has been pondering expansion for a couple of years and had previously identified the Heenan team as a group that would fit ideally with its needs. With the firm’s collapse, he said it was an easy decision to approach Mr. Rooney and Ms. Yung.

“Every recruiter that we spoke with over the last couple of years had identified this group as a quality group that operated on the basis of a co-operative friendly culture,” Mr. Coon said in an interview.

The 13 lawyers will bring Baker & McKenzie’s total practice in Toronto to 75 lawyers. Mr. Coon said the group has experience in key industries such as mining and natural resources, which will fit with his firm’s global strategies. Baker & McKenzie has 4,100 lawyers in 46 countries and has been growing in regions such as South America and Asia.

“While we have talented people here, we were seeking to complement that with deeper capacity and broader experience to really respond to what our clients are asking about on a global scale,” he said.

Also Wednesday, Osler Hoskin & Harcourt LLP said five lawyers from Heenan’s privacy and information management team will join Adam Kardash at Osler. Mr. Kardash was head of Heenan’s national privacy practice and a member of the firm’s national executive committee.

Fasken Martineau DuMoulin LLP said Wednesday a further nine lawyers are joining its office in Montreal, including two commercial law experts and seven labour and employment law specialists.

Other high-profile individual lawyers have also landed at new firms. McCarthy Tetrault said it has hired Frederico Marques and Steven Molnar to its mining group in Toronto. Mr. Marques, who is Brazilian, was a legal consultant in Heenan’s business law group and focused on international deals and financings in the natural resources sector.

Commercial litigation specialist Bonnie Roberts Jones, who headed Heenan’s Toronto litigation group, will join Groia & Co., which is headed by prominent securities lawyer Joe Groia.

Borden Ladner Gervais LLP confirmed Dan Palayew will join the firm as regional leader of its Ottawa labour and employment group. Mr. Palayew was co-managing partner of Heenan’s Ottawa office and practice group leader of the Ottawa employment law team.

Follow on Twitter: @JMcFarlandGlobe

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