Knowledge, integrity vital to Elbaz’s securities practice
By AdvocateDaily.com Staff
Toronto securities lawyer Andrew Elbaz says understanding his clients' businesses and becoming a trusted business adviser to the boards of directors of public companies and bankers he works with is vital.
“Knowing and understanding the business side of things is extremely important. If you’re able to do that, you can understand any industry and advise people accordingly,” says Elbaz, a partner with Minden Gross LLP and chair of the firm’s securities and capital markets practice.
When he joined Minden Gross in the summer of 2016, the firm launched its securities practice, which has grown significantly since then, he tells AdvocateDaily.com.
Elbaz attributes the growth to training his team of lawyers to be more than just “responsive document crunchers,” but rather advisers who play an integral role in their client’s success.
“This is what really fulfils our team,” he says. “While we pride ourselves on providing Tier 1 legal work, we also do our best to be available at all hours to help our clients manage real-life situations in real-time. Leaders of public companies often need a sounding board before bringing ideas to their directors, so we work hard to fulfil that role.”
Elbaz leads a team that regularly provides transactional, governance and securities compliance advice to public companies and investment banks.
“From private placements to RTOs, public offerings or other more complex transactions, the securities team at Minden Gross has in-depth experience to handle any type of scenario,” he says.
Elbaz and his team do deals in multiple industries — health-care, mining, cannabis, technology, blockchain, oil and gas and several others — and he likes it that way.
“We prefer not to peg ourselves as being a transactional law firm for one particular industry,” he says. “It keeps it interesting.”
Elbaz says he didn’t always have the securities bug. After moving to Ontario from Quebec, he landed an articling role at an insurance defence firm.
“Nice people, but the work was not what I wanted to do,” he says.
A close friend introduced Elbaz to Wildeboer Dellelce LLP, where he joined as one of the firm’s first articling students in 2005.
“I was a horrible student,” he says. “I didn’t even know what a security was, let alone ever read articles of incorporation or a company bylaw, so I really learned the basics at Wildeboer.”
The timing was perfect, with Elbaz learning the ropes in the early-2000s as the late-stage tech explosion overlapped with the early days of Canada’s mining boom.
“It was so fast-paced and exciting, and it really forced you to think on your toes,” Elbaz says. “I was surrounded by great practitioners doing fantastic work for public company clients and investment banks that were really moving the market, and it was inspiring to see how these influence-makers and board members depended on and trusted the advice of their lawyers.”
“I haven’t looked back since,” he adds.
During the financial crisis at the end of the last decade, Elbaz took advantage of an opportunity to gain a more rounded view of the public markets, embarking on a secondment with the Ontario Securities Commission.
“That was a great experience and allowed me to improve my technical skills in securities and see a different aspect of the practice,” he says.
No matter which sector of the economy they operate within, he adjusts his style to suit the needs of clients.
“You can’t just have a one-size-fits-all approach. You have to be flexible,” Elbaz says. “Sometimes they appreciate a gentler approach, while others need a bit of tough love.
“Really knowing their business and having integrity at all times is the key,” he adds.