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Class actions behind Torys drive to Montreal

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The growing number of class-action lawsuits against corporations filed in Quebec and elsewhere across the country is behind Torys LLP's latest surprising move: the hiring of respected litigator Sylvie Rodrigue from Norton Rose Canada LLP, and the opening of a small, litigation-focused office in Montreal.

"We realized that we were doing a lot of national litigation, and that we could provide a client benefit by covering Quebec and the rest of Canada seamlessly," said Les Viner, Torys managing partner.

The plan is to expand the Montreal office with a small number of lawyers, focused on litigation and largely class-action defence cases. It's the second such expansion for Torys in recent years, after the launch of a Calgary operation, focused on the energy industry, which added to its Toronto and New York offices.

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Ms. Rodrigue, 43, who recently acted for Canadian National Railway Co. in its defeat of a putative class action launched against the company by employees over unpaid overtime, is well-known for her work defending corporate clients from class-action claims. The 20-year legal veteran, whose entire career has been spent at Norton Rose (formerly Ogilvy Renault), will continue to split her time between Toronto and Montreal.

She joins a high-profile Torys litigation team that includes Sheila Block, Patricia Jackson, John Laskin and Wendy Matheson. But the new office will be looking for local Montreal talent.

"I don't think I will be lonely for very long because we are obviously in recruitment mode so it is my mandate, after all, to build the Montreal office," Ms. Rodrigue said.

The new office will be known as Société d'avocats Torys SENCRL / Torys Law Firm LLP, and is scheduled to open April 2.

(Jeff Gray is a Globe and Mail Law Reporter.)

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