Law firms on Bay Street are all looking to keep their competition law practices at the top of their game, and Torys is no exception as it signals a move to beef up its expertise in the area by snatching Dany Assaf away from Bennett Jones LLP.
Mr. Assaf, 41, had been the driving force behind his old firm’s bold move to open an office in Abu Dhabi, but his core specialty is competition and foreign investment law -- a skill set in high demand.
With Investment Canada’s veto of BHP Billiton Ltd.’s takeover of Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan last year, and a newly assertive Competition Bureau scrutinizing mergers, law firms are eager to show clients that they have the expertise to get their corproate deals over government hurdles.
The competition commissioner, Melanie Aitken, who is credited with some of the bureau’s new aggressiveness, is a former partner at Bennett Jones. She and Mr. Assaf were also partners together at Davies Ward Phillips & Vineberg LLP.
“Competition law is definitely a strong growth area, and foreign investment, with the infamous cases we’ve seen in the last few years where you really want to make sure you can service clients,” Mr. Assaf said in an interview.
He won’t be giving up his travel to the Arab world all together, although he admits the Toronto-Abu Dhabi commute was not easy. Mr. Assaf says Torys is also eager to expand its connections in the Persian Gulf.
He denied that the recent political turmoil in the Middle East, or the high-level spat between Canada and the United Arab Emirates over airline slots, had affected Bennett Jones’s efforts there.
“I think it remained in the Gulf, business as usual. I’m proud of what we accomplished there,” said Mr. Assaf, who is also known for expertise in the growing area of Islamic finance.
Bennett Jones itself recently announced that it had landed a major name in the world of competition law: Randy Hughes, which it snagged from McCarthy Tétrault LLP.