Canadian Lawyer

August 2019

The most widely read magazine for Canadian lawyers

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Page 43 of 63

PEOPLE FIRM INSIGHT 44 MLT Aikins launches outdoor adventure practice group SOME LAWYERS spend their free time at spin classes, book clubs, fantasy football or with a pint and a few friends at a bar. For MLT Aikins LLP senior counsel Ryan Mora- siewicz, a litigator who practises commercial and insurance-defence litigation, many of the hours not billed to clients are spent trekking deep into British Columbia's mountainous wilderness, rescuing lost hikers, backcountry skiers, snowboarders and mountaineers. For the last seven years, Morasiewicz has been active with North Shore Search and Rescue — a team of 50 volunteers who carry out around 130 search-and-rescue operations per year in the region a short drive west of downtown Vancouver. After joining the firm less than a year ago, Morasiewicz united with like-minded colleagues, including MLT associate and former provincial snowboarding champion Thomas Clifford, to use their shared interests in B.C.'s outdoor tourist activities to tap what Morasiewicz says is an underserved market in North America and launched an outdoor/adventure practice group. "This is the mecca for outdoors activities in Canada and MLT Aikins, the firm I'm with here, is a Western Canadian-only firm," Morasiewicz says. "It's only got offices in Western Canada. And when you think — with all apologies to Ontario and back east With offices exclusively in the four westernmost provinces, MLT Aikins spans a territory with vast resources for adventurers. Its new practice group will focus on outdoor and adventure tourism businesses. — when you think of outdoor adventure, you think mountains, you think B.C. you think Alberta, you think the west." Born in Whistler, B.C., snowboarding occupied Clifford's competitive energies until he injured his knee and broke two vertebrae at age 16. He shifted his focus to his studies and 10 years later became a lawyer, joining MLT in 2017. Clifford says his backstory was a common thread among many of the lawyers with which he and Morasiewicz worked, and they thought they could leverage their dedication for the outdoors and adrenaline-triggering sports and hobbies, to build their legal practices. "We just thought it would be so cool to be servicing clients where not only could we provide them with good legal advice but we could also share in their passion," Clifford says. Though tourism is a significant part of the economy in B.C. and Alberta, Morasiewicz says he was shocked to find that no other firm in the country and only a handful in the U.S. offered services tailored specifically toward the businesses that serve that industry. "I started doing some Googling and realized this is an entirely under-serviced industry here. There's nobody in Canada doing work specifically focused for outdoor adventure and it's a huge industry," he says. Morasiewicz's outdoor/adventure clients include outdoor guides, ski resorts, outdoor equipment manufacturers and distributors, not-for-profits, educational organizations and rafting, hiking and other adventure companies, he says. The specific legal issues these parties encounter include questions about liability waivers and injury actions resulting from outdoor/adventure activities and land-tenure permits for guides and other adventure companies operating on Crown land. But as with any business, these companies also need the typical legal services MLT AIKINS SPANS WESTERN CANADA MLT Aikins is a full-service law firm with more than 240 lawyers. The firm has offices in Regina, Saskatoon, Winnipeg, Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver. The firm is the result of a 2016 merger between MacPherson Leslie & Tyerman LLP and Aikins MacAulay & Thorvaldson LLP. The firm's history stretches back to 1879 and partner Sir James Albert Manning Aikins, who founded the Canadian Bar Association. Conspicuously absent from the firm's operations is a Toronto office, as the firm markets itself as Western Canada's law firm.

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