Bakers, Dentons swoop on Heenan Blaikie teams after DLA talks fail

Baker & McKenzie and Dentons have between them taken on 36 lawyers from collapsed Canadian firm Heenan Blaikie, days after DLA Piper pulled out of a deal to acquire a 70-strong team.

Speculation that Dentons was taking on the teams that DLA Piper was previously in discussions with (7 February 2014) escalated on Monday, when Canada’s former prime minister Jean Chrétien announced he was joining the firm as counsel.

Dentons Canada has since taken on 23 lawyers from Heenan’s Toronto and Montreal offices. 

Meanwhile Bakers has hired a 13-strong team from Heenan Blaikie’s Toronto office, taking on its corporate & securities, tax, and banking and finance practices led by partners Kevin Rooney and Sonia Yung, who are also joining from the Canadian firm.

Other partners joining the firm from Heenan include tax partner Peter Clark, finance partner Illia Danef, M&A partner Charles MacCready and finance partner Corey MacKinnon. The group will also include two paralegals.

The move will mean Baker & McKenzie has 75 lawyers based in Toronto.

DLA Piper had been looking to hire up to 70 lawyers from Heenan Blaikie’s Toronto and Calgary offices (7 February 2014) and make its first steps into the Canadian legal market, a strategic move that has been long awaited (7 March 2011).

However its ambition to expand into the market was set back earlier this week, with DLA Piper confirming that the two sides were “unable to agree to economic terms”.

In a statement DLA Piper said: “As we announced last week, DLA Piper was in discussions with a group of lawyers at Heenan Blaikie about joining the firm in Canada. However, on Sunday night, after additional due diligence and consideration over the weekend, we were unable to agree to economic terms and accommodate the needs of the lawyers at Heenan Blaikie. As a result, we have ended all negotiations.”

The 40-year old Montreal-based firm, whose partners voted to dissolve the practice last week, has eight offices in Canada, as well as a small base in Paris.

Heenan Blaikie’s collapse has also resulted in the creation of a Vancouver-based litigation outfit – Gall Legge Grant & Munroe – which has been set up by Heenan’s founder Roy Heenan, according to Reuters.