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Monday, May 4, 2009

FMC BAILS BIG APPLE

Almost seven years after opening its New York office, Fraser Milner Casgrain LLP has given up its prestigious digs at One Rockefeller Plaza.

"We kind of came to the conclusion that we weren''t using that office space to the point where it was worth carrying on paying for it," says Michel Brunet, FMC''s chairman and chief executive officer.

FMC left the space it had been subletting from a larger firm in March, a move prompted in part by the need to cut costs as the recession takes a heavy toll on corporate work in places like New York. But as Brunet points out, the move won''t mean layoffs of any lawyers since none of them actually lived there.

"We had a representative office there and one person that was permanently based in New York who was a business development person."

Instead, Brunet says firm lawyers will continue to do much of their cross-border work virtually through what he calls a continental strategy. That means, for example, that FMC''s Vancouver office handles clients in California mainly in the entertainment industry, while its Calgary office heads up the firm''s energy business in Texas.

In Eastern Canada, meanwhile, Canadian lawyers take charge of business in the financial sector stemming from places like New York and Chicago. "They''re still doing the same thing except they don''t go to the office anymore," Brunet says.

Jeff Barnes, the former FMC managing partner in New York now with Heenan Blaikie LLP in Toronto, says the U.S. office was primarily about increasing the firm's presence in order to attract more cross-border work.

"You need some regularity and some visibility," he notes, adding that the virtual model can still accomplish that goal. "Really, you can go down and see the same people by flying down and having a hotel room."

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NEW BLOOD AT CBA[/span]

Nova Scotia lawyer Trinda Ernst has been elected second vice president of the Canadian Bar Association, putting her on track to assuming the presidency of the CBA in 2011.

“I offer my congratulations to Trinda on her successful campaign,” said CBA president Guy Joubert, in a release. “She brings not only excellent skills but also extensive experience with the CBA to the association’s leadership.

She will be invited to attend meetings of the executive officers and the national board so that she is fully briefed when she takes office.”

The news means that Ernst will become the fifth woman to act as president of the CBA.

Ernst was called to the bar in 1984 and has been a member of the CBA for 28 years. Since 1992, she has been a partner in the 10-lawyer firm Waterbury Newton, where she practises wills and estates, elder law, corporate/commercial law, and real estate law.

She currently is vice chairwoman of the CBA’s women lawyers forum and a member of the elder law section executive committee. She was branch president of CBA Nova Scotia in 1999-2000.

D’ARCY CALLED TO BENCH

Bennett Jones LLP tax and trade law lawyer Steven D’Arcy has left the firm to accept an appointment to the Tax Court of Canada.

D’Arcy will replace Justice E.A. Bowie, who chose to become a supernumerary judge effective Nov. 12, 2006.

D’Arcy has been with Bennett Jones in Toronto since 2001, and previously practised with Fasken Martineau DuMoulin LLP from 1990 to 2001.

STIKEMANS CALGARY GIVES AWAY SAPLINGS

The Calgary office of Stikeman Elliott LLP has marked its accomplishment of becoming the first national law firm to have its Canadian offices certified carbon neutral by handing out 2,500 tree saplings.

“We are excited that we have taken this on as a long-term commitment and challenge to reduce the environmental impact of our operations,” said managing partner Lou Cusano regarding the firm’s GoingGreen Program, in a release.

“We are proud to do our part in addressing this important environmental issue.”

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