Ernst & Young's Canadian outfit splits into two firms

Ernst & Young's (E&Y) beleaguered Canadian law firm Donahue has finally dissolved, ending the accounting giant's bid to build a major commercial law practice in the region

However, two new boutique firms have been launched with former Donahue lawyers, both of which retain tie-ups with E&Y.
The changes come following a mass exodus of commercial partners from Donahue over the last 12 months as well as difficulties faced by the partnership over multidisciplinary partnerships (MDPs).
In July the firm lost a 23-lawyer energy team to McCarthy Tétrault, sparking further departures and the firm's ultimate decision to wind down its commercial practice. Since then the Donahue commercial partners have left for various firms, including McMillan Binch, Blake Cassel & Graydon and Miller Thomson.
“Donahue had been running for about five years,” said Robert Couzin, co-managing partner at one of the two newly-created boutiques. “But expectations weren't met; it didn't take off the way people had hoped.”
The two new boutique partnerships, Couzin Taylor and Egan, will focus on tax and business immigration respectively. Egan became effective as a partnership from 1 January, while Couzin Taylor has been running for a couple of months.
Egan has just a single partner, James Egan, who manages the firm, and around five other fee-earners. Couzin Taylor, headed up by Couzin and Roger Taylor, has six partners and approximately 30 fee-earners.
Couzin said there had been much discussion as to whether to have one or two new firms, but the lawyers decided to opt for two smaller boutiques for marketing and branding reasons.
He also admitted that the two new firms would still face the same problems that Donahue had faced in regard to MDPs. However, he added that such problems would have less effect on the boutiques than on a general commercial practice.