Over the years, Montreal has developed a certain ability to attract large international companies to establish themselves there. Today, Quebec City is also of interest to the rest of Canada, as evidenced by the opening of an office by the major Alberta commercial law firm Bennett Jones, which is setting up shop downtown.
Historically, for centuries Canadian economic development has been achieved from east to west and west to east expansion is still a fairly rare occurrence, especially in the field of business law.
While major Montreal firms like Norton Rose Fulbright and McCarthy Tétrault have offices in Calgary, this is the first time an Alberta law firm of Bennett Jones’ stature has decided to set up shop west of the Ottawa River.
In this era of energy transition, the firm’s interest in business law is no stranger to the expertise and innovation capacity that Quebec has developed in the field of renewable energy.
Alberta, a major oil and gas producer, has strong energy expertise, but the western province is committed to the energy transition which is why a rapprochement with Quebec makes sense, according to Hugh McKinnon, president and CEO of Bennett Jones.
Energy transition has certainly been a factor in our establishment in Montreal. Quebec and Alberta are energy producing provinces and this is a major sector of the economy.
Hugh McKinnon, President and CEO, Bennett Jones
“We want to support companies from the West to do business in Quebec in all sectors of activity, just as we want to do with Quebec companies that want to make acquisitions or partnerships with companies from the West,” explains Hugh MacKinnon.
Since January, Bennett Jones has acquired an entire floor of Maison Deloitte, 20,000 square feet, De Maisonneuve Street. As a sign of its commitment, the Alberta company signed a ten-year lease and even made options for possible expansion.
Pascale Dion Bourassa, who specializes in commercial litigation, is the first assistant attorney for Bennett Jones in Montreal and is responsible for the team’s recruiting in the city.
“My company, d3b Avocats, have executed several mandates for them in Quebec and they have asked me to join them. For me, joining this wonderful office is a turning point. I am the senior partner in Montreal and we are now looking for talent and we see that there is interest.
“We have a great culture to share and want to be involved in the revitalization of the city centre. For 22 years the firm has ranked as one of the best employers in Canada. We expect to have a team of 100 lawyers in Montreal within five years,” says Pascale Dion Bourassa.
Century old company
Bennett Jones was founded in 1922 in Calgary by R.B. Bennett, who in 1930 became Prime Minister of Canada. The group took off in a big way during the 1970s with the oil and gas boom causing an explosion of economic activity in Alberta.
During these years of strong growth, the firm has recruited attorneys who have come from all over Canada, which to some extent has shaped the corporate culture.
“Oil and gas were the engine of our business, but then we diversified a lot in all sectors of activity. I opened the Toronto office in 1999 and there we open our Montreal office because we see a lot of potential in terms of commercial law, litigation, infrastructure, mergers and acquisitions, ”summarizes Hugh MacKinnon.
Bennett Jones has 500 attorneys in its various Canadian offices. It is clear that the company has many clients in the oil and gas sector – Total, Canada Natural Resources, Synovus, Irving, Trans Mountain Pipeline, etc. – but it also represents many large companies in all sectors of activity, such as Bank Royal and Ernst. & young man.
It was Bennett Jones who worked with CP on its $31 billion merger with Kansas City Southern. The company also accompanied its customer, Volkswagen, in its project to establish a battery factory in Ontario.
Bennett Jones also has companies in Quebec as clients, including Videotron, Osisko, Air Transat, and Pharmascience.
Alberta and Quebec look alike. We share an entrepreneurial spirit and common civic sense.
Hugh McKinnon, CEO, Bennett Jones
Hugh MacKinnon comes to Montreal every week to support Pascal Dion Bourassa and happily discovers the city. He quietly tames his French by claiming to practice for 1,000 days on Duolingo, a language-learning site.
“We thought we would set up more quickly, but there was COVID that delayed our projects. There we come to settle for good. It’s not a branch office,” the CEO clearly explains.
In short, Bennett Jones
- years of existence: 101
- Number of employees : 1000, including 500 lawyers
- Offices: Calgary, Edmonton, Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Vancouver, New York
- The largest office: Toronto, 220 Attorneys
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