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Dany Assaf. (Charla Jones/The Globe and Mail)
Dany Assaf. (Charla Jones/The Globe and Mail)

Torys snags Bennett Jones globetrotter Add to ...

Dany Assaf knows something about travel, having launched Bennett Jones LLP’s office in Abu Dhabi earlier this year. Now, he’s travelling to a different firm, planting himself at Torys LLP in Toronto.

Mr. Assaf, who goes back to his specialty as a competition and antitrust lawyer, says the offer to move to Torys was one he couldn’t turn down. His shift comes as law firms look to boost their competition practices in the face of the newly aggressive Competition Bureau, itself headed by former Bennett Jones lawyer Melanie Aitken.

Mr. Assaf, who acknowledged the Toronto-Abu Dhabi commute was a grind, said Torys also hopes to boost its presence in the Persian Gulf, where he has connections and from where a growing amount of foreign investment in Canada is expected to flow.

“Torys is a place that has a fantastic reputation and track record,” Mr. Assaf told Bar Talk. “And basically, a firm like Torys says ‘We want to expand our competition practice and we’re interested in new markets,’ and it’s one of these opportunities that’s hard to resist.”

Google invests in online legal startup

While most eyes were on Google Inc.’s recent purchase of Motorola Mobility Holdings Inc., the search-engine giant also recently made waves with a move into the nascent world of Web-based legal services.

Google Ventures plans to plug $18.5-million (U.S.) into a U.S.-based company called Rocket Lawyer (rocketlawyer.com), an online provider of legal forms, such as contracts and wills. It also matches participating lawyers with clients seeking online advice.

The move has some in the profession talking about the coming Web-based transformation of legal services. Speculation has been looming that LegalZoom, another U.S. online legal services provider, will go public, according to Forbes.com.

Similar Web services have been springing up in Canada, too, such as My Legal Briefcase and Dynamic Lawyers – whose founder, Toronto lawyer Michael Carabash, says on his blog that he, too, had approached Google for capital and was rebuffed. (He was also rebuffed on the CBC-TV show Dragons’ Den.) The idea, some legal visionaries argue, is to use technology to break down the mahogany-panelled doors of the profession and do to the law business what TurboTax has done to accounting, or, perhaps, what iTunes has done to the music industry.

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