Allen & Overy turns its back on Canada

Allen & Overy (A&O) has put a Canada launch on the back-burner. Partners rejected the Canada proposals in favour of focusing on Australia.

Earlier this year senior partner David Morley put together a commercial study on Canada, but A&O’s board rejected immediate launch proposals to focus instead on its Australia offices. However, sources suggest that a ­number of partners feel that, if an inexpensive Canada opportunity comes along, the firm will take advantage of it.

In June A&O sent fact-finding envoys to Canada to talk with firms and the market filled with rumours of a raid or merger. Torys, one of ­Canada’s ’seven sister’ firms, was touted as the most ­likely merger partner, but this was rejected by Torys managing partner Les Viner.

“Our firm met A&O ­representatives in June,” said one lawyer at a large Canadian firm. “A&O’s still interested in Canada and is keeping it on its radar, but there no longer appears to be an immediate interest.

“There was a lot of excitement last year about UK firms opening here, but now a lot of them have realised that Canada’s well-served by its lawyers and there’s no significant growth coming in.”

An A&O statement said: “We are aware of the rumours, but we currently have no plans to open in Canada.”