Michael Ford
Corporate

Shared vision unites Allen McDonald Swartz LLP and new partners

The lawyers of boutique corporate law firm Allen McDonald Swartz LLP (AMS) say they have found kindred spirits in their new additions to the partnership.

On April 1, Toronto corporate lawyers Jennifer Allen, Jillian Swartz and Fraser McDonald welcomed Bay Street veterans Henry Bertossi and Brad Elberg to the partnership. Between them, the pair add close to five decades of business law experience to the firm’s roster. 

“It’s always nice to build bench strength in terms of experience, but it doesn’t work unless there’s also a fit when it comes to philosophy around client service. They bring both,” Allen says. “We want to do things differently, and we have the freedom and flexibility to do that. From the start, it was clear that Brad and Henry spoke the same language, so it feels like the stars aligned for us, and we consider ourselves very lucky.”

While boutique firms have become common in the litigation field, they have very few counterparts in the world of corporate law, where larger law firms still tend to dominate, Swartz says. All five AMS partners left much larger firms to try a new model of delivering legal services.  

“The legal marketplace continues to change. We saw that many aspects of the market were not well-served by the business-model of large firms,” Swartz says. “Our vision and the considerable success we have had focuses on providing sophisticated, top-drawer advice coupled with exceptional client service and responsive economics.”

The new additions are particularly significant since Bertossi acted as a key professional and ethical guide for Swartz early in her career at Bay Street giant Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP, a firm where both Allen and securities lawyer McDonald have a history practising.

“It’s humbling, and quite a unique experience to have one of your mentors join your firm,” Swartz says. “Henry had a significant impact on my formative years at Blakes and I look forward to working with him again.”

Bertossi has spent his three decades at the bar with Blakes, Heenan Blaikie and Miller Thomson helping clients navigate complex legal matters, including mergers and acquisitions, joint ventures and those involving sensitive stakeholder arrangements. His wide-ranging client base includes entrepreneurs, private and family owned businesses, as well as public institutions and multinational corporations.

Elberg started his legal career at Heenan Blaikie after a distinguished sporting career during which he was a member of the Canadian Olympic bobsleigh team and a captain of the Toronto Argonauts in the Canadian Football League. He was a partner at Heenan and, after serving as Chief Operating Officer and General Counsel at an independent investment dealer, became a partner at Miller Thomson.

He has represented private and family owned businesses, including startups and entrepreneurs, public institutions and global corporations in a range of transactional, general commercial, employment and dispute resolution matters. He also advises foreign enterprises about establishing and structuring business operations in Canada.

“Henry and I are very excited to join our new partners at AMS. Jennifer, Fraser and Jillian are talented, enthusiastic and dedicated Bay Street legal veterans who share our client-centred approach to practising law,” Elberg says.

We look forward to collaborating with them to provide our clients with creative, constructive, and practical solutions to their legal issues. AMS provides us with the flexibility to take a more tailored and customized approach to serving clients in an ever-changing legal marketplace.”

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