Some might have noticed that Allen & Overy (A&O) has, quietly and without a fuss, decided to launch in Canada. Others may remember that back in 2011 the firm actively rejected the idea so that it could instead focus on Australia. So, why the change in tune?
The story goes like so. When A&O Casablanca founding partner François Duquette voiced his intention to return to Canada nine months ago, the firm was left in a pickle. Here was a partner who had spearheaded A&O’s foray into Africa and helped launch its base in Abu Dhabi, but Duquette’s home country was not on its agenda.
But there was one loophole in 2011’s decision not to open in Canada – if an “inexpensive” opportunity presented itself, then a launch in the country could go ahead. That wish is granted via Duquette, who asked for just one mid-level associate, one member of support staff and a handful of desks in Toronto.
For A&O, this is a low-cost, low-risk way to keep Duquette while having its feet on Canadian ground. A polite step into the country, but not quite the stampede the market once expected.
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