Canadian Lawyer InHouse

December/January 2021

Legal news and trends for Canadian in-house counsel and c-suite executives

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16 www.canadianlawyermag.com/inhouse TOP 10 PRAIRIE LAW FIRMS Top 10 Prairie law firms CANADIAN LAWYER 'S top 10 Prairies regional law firms fulfil a wide variety of client needs, ranging from labour and employment issues to IP, M&A and even governance matters. Voted by readers as the top five firms from Manitoba and the top five from Saskatchewan, these firms are a cut above the rest in terms of their local knowledge and attention to detail, according to in-house counsel clients. Included in the top five in both our Manitoba and Saskatchewan categories, MLT Aikins LLP has offices in Winnipeg, Regina, Saskatoon, Edmonton and Vancouver, and it prides itself on a deep knowledge of the unique legal and business landscape of western Canada. One key client, Exchange Income Corporation, has a long-running history with the firm as some of the founders of the corporation were former MLT lawyers. EIC retains the firm for a variety of work ranging from M&A to security compliance work and filing requirements with the Toronto Stock Exchange. The firm also helps with labour and employment, intellectual property and real estate matters. "They've worked with us for so long and developed such a relationship with us that they have a really deep understanding of our business," says Steven Stennett, chief legal officer at EIC, an acquisition company focused on the aerospace, aviation and manufacturing sectors. "They not only understand the sector but also the kind of approach we take to our business, which is very important when we're trying to get acquisitions across the finish line," says Stennett. Sheldon Stener, general counsel and corporate secretary at Federated Co-operatives Ltd., has worked with MLT Aikins for 13 years and he appreciates the full service that it offers. "They understand our business," says Stener. "Co-operative organizations are different from other corporations, so it's important that our firms understand the co-operative model and the differences and distinctions that apply to a co-op and our geographic footprint across Canada." As FCL supports other co-ops that serve people across western Canada, a priority is to procure legal services from western Canadian law firms. Also included in our top 10 list on the Manitoba side, Pitblado Law is a full-service business law firm serving local, national and international clients and has been operating for more than 137 years, with offices in Winnipeg and Arborg, Man. Among its many clients, Pitblado works with the Teachers' Retirement Allowances Fund on matters including privacy opinions, gover- nance issues, employment issues and, more recently, for corporate commercial work. "We use them on a regular basis to review our governance practices," says Kaely Zettel, vice president, legal at TRAF. "They give us opinions on board responsibilities, and they look at fiduciary duties of our board in relation to our governing legislation. As a statutory corporation, TRAF does not have its own bylaws and is governed by the Teachers' Pensions Act, so Pitblado's services on legislative issues are highly valued. "As a pension plan, we are always conscious of keeping our legal fees in check, so we like the fact that Pitblado is reasonably priced and they have counsel at different levels to do appropriate work," says Zettel. While some matters are handled by associ- ates or paralegals, partners deal with more complex matters. "We always know we're going to get great legal counsel for a great price," says Zettel. "Pitblado provides a quality service and they are also very responsive and very timely in getting the work done," says Philip Watts, general counsel at Winnipeg-based global software solution provider Rapid RTC – part of the DMT group of companies. Watts has worked with Pitblado for around four years, and he calls upon the firm for such matters as corporate privacy, software, employment and finance deals. Pitblado recently helped Rapid RTC with a private equity buy-in. Miller Thomson LLP was voted as one of the top five firms in the Saskatchewan region. The national firm boasts two Saskatchewan offices — in Regina and Saskatoon — among its 12 offices across Canada. Calgary-based Ensign Energy Services Inc. regularly calls upon the Saskatchewan offices for employ- ment law and litigation matters. "We've had a number of employment claims, constructive dismissal and human rights complaints, which Miller Thomson represented us on," says Justin Louie, legal counsel at Ensign. "They are very responsive and collaborative. I like to be involved in terms Clients value local knowledge and collaborative nature of leading firms in Manitoba and Saskatchewan

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