A&O steps into Canada as Casablanca founding partner heads home

Allen & Overy (A&O) is to open a small base in Toronto after the Canadian-qualified founding partner of its Casablanca office returns to Canada.

Structured finance partner François Duquette joined A&O in 2007, after the firm raided Simmons & Simmons in Abu Dhabi to open its own base in the area with Duquette and Simmons Abu Dhabi head Ibrahim Mubaydeen (18 June 2007).

In 2011 Duquette then relocated to Casablanca to lead the firm’s foray into Africa, with the base going on to become a hub for A&O’s Africa plans (20 July 2011).

His return to Canada means the firm will effectively launch its first Canadian outpost in autumn. However a spokesperson for the firm said that A&O is not looking to compete with the local market nor expand the office beyond Duquette and one associate.

A spokesperson said: “The office will only provide English law advice, focused on outbound investment. We look forward to continuing to work with our local relationship firms on a referral basis and strengthening our ties with the Canadian market.”

Toronto, along with Calgary and Vancouver, has been a well-known hotspot for firms opening offices in Canada.

The country has proved particularly attractive since the world financial system collapsed in 2007, when Canada recovered faster than any other G7 country from the ensuing global recession. While part of this was down to the pre-crisis conservative regulation of its banks, Canada’s abundance of natural resources also made it attractive to investors from global and emerging markets (5 August 2013).

Duquette’s move was first reported by Roll on Friday.

Read more about the Canadian legal market in Before the Stampede.