Ontario’s best private equity lawyers in 2021

Find out who Ontario’s best private equity lawyers are based Lexpert’s latest peer review
Ontario’s best private equity lawyers in 2021

Find out who Ontario’s best private equity lawyers are based on the results of Lexpert’s annual peer review. The full roster of the province’s most recommended lawyers and law firms in the field can be viewed in our latest practice area rankings.

Private equity law is the branch legal profession covering private equity companies that pool investments of pension funds and other large investors to purchase assets and other companies. Lawyers in this practice assist in the formation of funds and negotiating contract terms.

Most frequently recommended private equity lawyers

Michael F.E. Akkawi

Law firm: Torys LLP

Year called to the bar: 1999

Michael F.E. Akkawi is the co-head of Torys LLP’s mining and metals practice and a partner in the mergers and acquisitions and capital markets practices. He focuses on a range of corporate, commercial and securities law matters, with an emphasis on cross-border M&A and corporate finance. Akkawi is also one of the key partners involved in the firm’s work with Chinese clients. He represented Franco-Nevada on several recent transactions, including its US$650-million precious metals streaming financing of the acquisition of the Candelaria mine in Chile and a US$500 million cross-border equity offering. Akkawi has also represented China Development Bank on its proposed financing of Minmetals’ bid to acquire Equinox Minerals, China Investment Corporation in its $1.7-billion acquisition of a 17 per cent equity interest in Teck Resources, Hindalco in its US$6-billion acquisition of Novelis and subsequent financing transactions.

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Patrick G. Barry

Law firm: Davies Ward Phillips & Vineberg LLP

Year called to the bar: 1993

Patrick G. Barry is a partner and the principal contact for several US and Canadian public and private companies at Davies Ward Phillips & Vineberg LLP. He devotes his practice to public and private mergers and acquisitions, private equity investment transactions, fund formation and debt and equity corporate finance. Barry advises on high-profile transactions and boasts substantial experience in corporate joint ventures and structured finance transactions. He has also advised on the formation of some of Canada’s largest and most prominent private equity and hedge funds. Barry is regularly called upon by leading private equity funds, hedge funds, asset managers and enterprises of all sizes from start-ups to multinationals.

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Sarbjit S. Basra

Law firm: Davies Ward Phillips & Vineberg LLP

Year called to the bar: 1994

Sarbjit S. Basra is the managing partner at Davies Ward Phillips & Vineberg LLP in Toronto. He specializes in private mergers and acquisitions, private equity investment transactions, fund formation and debt and equity corporate finance. Basra has more than two decades of experience advising leading private equity firms and institutions on private fund formation, the creation of pooled investment vehicles and investment transactions, both in Canada and internationally. He has also advised on the formation of many of Canada’s leading private funds.

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Geoffrey S. Belsher

Law firm: Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP

Year called to the bar: 1992

Geoffrey S. Belsher the managing partner of the Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP’s New York office. He is part of the firm’s US initiative and is a member of the firm’s executive committee since 2006. He has also worked in the firm’s Toronto, Vancouver and New York offices and in the UK. Belsher practises corporate law, with a focus on cross-border mergers and acquisitions and corporate finance. He advises Canadian, US and international public and private companies, investment dealers, private equity, venture capital and alternative investment funds and family offices with respect to Canadian law matters. He also acts as lead special counsel to boards of directors and special committees in M&A, governance shareholder activism and internal investigation matters. Belsher has been special counsel to the target-company and acquirer in several high-profile Canadian hostile transactions. He has also led some of the largest public offerings ever completed in Canada. Belsher advises clients in several industries, including mining, energy, financial services, gaming, life sciences and technology. He is an active member of the American Bar Association’s M&A and private equity committees and is involved in several Canada-US business associations, including the Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation.

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Joel E. Binder

Law firm: Stikeman Elliott LLP

Year called to the bar: 1991

Joel E. Binder is a partner at the corporate finance, securities and mergers and acquisitions groups at Stikeman Elliott LLP in Toronto, where he previously served on the management committee. Binder boasts extensive experience in these practice areas, along with private equity, where he often advises clients. Binder frequently represents public issuers, boards of directors and investment dealers in transactions involving public offerings, private placements, takeover bids, business combinations and governance and securities compliance matters. He regularly speaks at conferences on securities law and has authored articles on a variety of securities law topics. Binder is a past director and audit committee member of two public companies. He is also a member of the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX) advisory committee and the firm’s associates committee.

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William J. Braithwaite

Law firm: Stikeman Elliott LLP

Year called to the bar: 1980

William J. Braithwaite is a senior counsel at Stikeman Elliott LLP. He was the firm’s chair from 2012 to 2018 and is former head of the corporate group in Toronto. He also previously served on the firm’s partnership board and executive committee. Braithwaite specializes in mergers and acquisitions and corporate finance. He has acted as counsel to major Canadian corporations, boards of directors and institutional shareholders and various governments and regulatory authorities. He is also a special lecturer in Osgoode Hall Law School’s part-time LLM program. Braithwaite has participated in numerous panels and conferences on corporate and securities law. He also serves as chairman of the board of directors of Computershare Trust Company of Canada.

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Matthew Cockburn

Law firm: Torys LLP

Year called to the bar: 1995

Matthew Cockburn is a partner at Torys LLP. He practises corporate and securities law, with an emphasis on mergers and acquisitions and private equity. Cockburn acts for a wide variety of private equity firms and pension funds, advising on all aspects of their investment transactions. He has also advised on public takeover bids, plans of arrangement, and private acquisitions and divestitures. Cockburn has significant experience in the corporate finance area, advising issuers and underwriters on public and private offerings of debt and equity securities.

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Curtis Cusinato

Law firm: Bennett Jones LLP

Year called to the bar: 1993 (ON); 1991 (Michigan)

Curtis Cusinato is a partner and the vice-chair of Bennett Jones LLP.  He also serves as co-head of the firm’s mergers and acquisitions group. He devotes his practice to corporate and securities law, with a focus on cross-border M&A, private equity and capital markets transactions. For over two decades, Cusinato has advised leading multinational, public and private companies and private equity groups on domestic and cross-border M&A, divestitures, leveraged and management buyouts, going-private transactions and other private equity transactions. He has also advised on public offerings, restructurings, reorganizations, joint ventures and debt and equity financings. His practice also includes advising boards of directors on various corporate governance matters and covers a spectrum of industries, including technology, steel, manufacturing, agribusiness, foodservice, hospitality, gaming, environmental, financial services, and life sciences. Cusinato’s clients include multinational, US and Canadian public companies, North American private companies, Canadian chartered banks, investment and merchant banks, private equity groups, hedge funds and sovereign wealth funds. He sits on the board of several entities and frequently acts as a speaker on various corporate topics.

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Michael Gans

Law firm: Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP

Year called to the bar: 1996

Michael Gans is a partner at Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP. He devotes his practice to international inbound and domestic mergers and acquisitions. Gans has advised on many of the country’s highest-profile M&A transactions. He frequently acts for financial sponsors in both platform and roll-up transactions. Gans also regularly acts for special committees of boards in connection with internal investigations and related party transactions. Recent examples of his experience include advising The Stars Group on its combination with Flutter Entertainment, Cerberus on its acquisition of Dorel Industries and Danaher Corporation on several Canadian acquisitions. Gans also regularly acts for special committees and boards in connection with corporate governance matters, internal investigations and related party transactions.

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Stephen H. Halperin

Law firm: Goodmans LLP

Year called to the bar: 1976 (QC); 1979 (AB); 1987 (ON)

Stephen H. Halperin currently serves a counsel for Goodmans LLP after more than 30 years as a partner. He was also co-chair of the firm’s corporate and securities group. Halperin specializes in transactional corporate and securities law, domestic and international corporate finance, mergers and acquisitions and corporate governance, including activist shareholders matters. Halperin was lead counsel for Pan-Canadian Investors Committee for Third Party Asset-Backed Commercial Paper (ABCP) Restructuring from 2007 to 2009.

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Samantha G. Horn

Law firm: Stikeman Elliott LLP

Year Called to the bar: 1993

Samantha G. Horn is a partner and a member of Stikeman Elliott LLP’s management committee in Toronto. She formerly served as co-head of the firm’s mergers and acquisitions and private equity groups. Horn practises primarily in the areas of M&A, private equity, venture capital financing and fund formation. She is a fellow of the American Bar Foundation and past chair of the private equity and venture capital committee of the business law section of the American Bar Association, where she also served on the council of its business law section. Horn is a founding and executive member of the Canadian women in private equity committee of the Canadian Venture Capital Association. She has authored several articles and participated as a speaker in various seminar programs in both Canada and the US with respect to private equity and venture capital financing, shareholders agreements and fund formation matters.

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Jeffrey R. Lloyd

Law firm: Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP

Year called to the bar: 1991

Jeffrey R. Lloyd is a partner at Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP. He specializes in mergers and acquisitions, public company advisory matters and capital markets transactions. Lloyd advises purchasers, target companies and vendors on public and private M&A transactions. He has extensive experience in both negotiated and unsolicited transactions. Lloyd also advises public companies on corporate governance, shareholder activism and securities law matters and in connection with public offerings of equity and debt securities. He boasts extensive experience in a wide range of industries, including mining, real estate, financial services, power generation and retail and consumer products.

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David J. Matlow

Law firm: Goodmans LLP

Year called to the bar: 1986

David J. Matlow is a partner at Goodmans LLP. He devotes his practice to private equity, mergers and acquisitions and securities law and sports governance. Matlow acts for both public and private companies in a range of transactions, including financings, fund formation, initial public offerings, regulatory matters and divestitures. He also acts for private equity firms, including Clairvest in their fund formation and investing activities. Matlow represents the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board in its commitments to and secondary purchases of private equity funds worldwide. He has represented Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment in a variety of matters, including the creation of the TFC Major League Soccer team and Raptors 905 in the NBA Development League. Matlow has also acted on the expansion of Major League Rugby into Canada with the formation of the Toronto Arrows.

Neill I. May

Law firm: Goodmans LLP

Year called to the bar: 1992

Neill I. May is a partner Goodmans LLP, where is also the co-chair of corporate securities group and a member of the executive committee. May boasts extensive experience in corporate and securities law, with a focus on mergers and acquisitions, governance and proxy matters, domestic and cross-border public and private financings, private equity and business restructurings. May is also actively involved in mining and Asian market practice areas.

Shevaun McGrath

Law firm: McCarthy Tétrault LLP

Year called to the bar: 2000 (ON); 2001 (New York)

Shevaun McGrath is a partner at McCarthy Tétrault LLP. devotes her practice to mergers and acquisitions, private equity and investment funds. McGrath advises on domestic and cross-border public and private M&A and other related securities matters. She represents institutional investors in their investment activities, including acquisitions and divestitures of portfolio companies and investments in private equity and other alternative investment funds. McGrath also advises clients on fund formation activities. She presents at various conferences on topics relating to corporate and securities law.

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Mario Nigro

Law firm: Stikeman Elliott LLP

Year called to the bar: 2002

Mario Nigro is a partner in the mergers and acquisitions and private equity and venture capital groups at Stikeman Elliott LLP. His practice focuses on business law, including acquisitions, dispositions and reorganizations. Nigro has extensive experience working with private equity and venture capital firms on numerous acquisitions and dispositions. He has worked on numerous Canadian private equity fund transactions for leading private equity firms. Nigro also has extensive experience working with owner operators who are looking at selling their businesses. He has worked with both entrepreneurs who are looking at selling a minority interest to grow their businesses and owners who are looking for a complete exit. Nigro has also worked with owners in all industries and particularly manufacturing, services, technology, food and consumer product businesses. He has represented some of the leading food, retail and manufacturing businesses in Canada, as well as a leading provider of outsourced office and workplace solutions in Canada. Nigro works with several emerging technology companies and has helped them with acquisitions, dispositions, financings and growth capital transactions. He is a member of the Association for Corporate Growth and the Toronto chapter of the Association for Corporate Growth.

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W. Ian Palm

Law firm: Gowling WLG

Year called to the bar: 1995

W. Ian Palm is a partner at Gowling WLG’s Toronto office. His practice focuses on corporate finance, mergers and acquisitions and private equity. Palm has extensive experience working with Canadian and international clients in a variety of industries, with particular emphasis on the technology, energy and infrastructure sectors. He represents private and public companies, major corporations, pension funds, and private equity and venture capital investors. Acting for issuers, investors and underwriters, Palm has advised clients in a range of corporate finance and M&A transactions, including private placements, public offerings, private equity and venture capital transactions, joint ventures and public and private M&A. He speaks frequently at law schools, institutes and conferences on mergers and acquisitions, private equity and securities law.

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Brian M. Pukier

Law firm: Stikeman Elliott LLP

Year called to the bar: 1994

Brian M. Pukier is a partner at Stikeman Elliott LLP’s mergers and acquisitions group, which he previously headed. He also serves on the management committee in the Toronto office. Pukier specializes in cross-border M&A, private equity investments, corporate finance transactions, complex corporate reorganizations and public policy. He boasts significant experience in counselling senior management and the boards of directors of leading public and private corporations. Pukier is a member of the Ontario Bar Association, Canadian Bar Association and International Bar Association. He is also on the board of directors of Computershare Trust Company of Canada. Pukier is a frequent speaker and writer on M&A and securities regulatory topics.

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Simon A. Romano

Law firm: Stikeman Elliott LLP

Year called to the bar: 1989

Simon A. Romano serves as partner in the capital markets and mergers and acquisitions groups at Stikeman Elliott LLP. He was also a former member of the management committee in the Toronto office. His practice focuses on securities, public and private mergers and acquisitions and corporate finance. Romano advises public companies, financial institutions, underwriters, investment funds, private equity funds, real estate investment trusts and income trusts, alternative trading systems and regulatory and self-regulatory organizations. He also acts on corporate governance and executive compensation matters. Romano was instrumental in the structure and launch of special purpose acquisition companies in Canada. He was previously seconded to the Ontario Securities Commission as special counsel and is a former member of its securities advisory committee. He also co-authored the first book on Canadian income funds and is a former clerk at the Supreme Court of Canada.

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Cameron M. Rusaw

Law firm: Davies Ward Phillips & Vineberg LLP

Year called to the bar: 1990

Cameron M. Rusaw is a partner at Davies Ward Phillips & Vineberg LLP, where he chairs the lawyer evaluation committee. He specializes in mergers and acquisitions, private equity and corporate finance. Rusaw acts for public and private companies, private equity funds and portfolio companies in domestic, cross-border and international acquisitions, investments, sales processes and financings. He has significant experience in a variety of industries, including pharmaceuticals, healthcare, laboratory testing, heavy equipment manufacturing and distribution, technology, movie theatres, mortgage lending, retail and mining. Rusaw is also well-versed in venture capital financing and technology. He is an adjunct professor at the University of Toronto Faculty of Law, where he teaches an advanced corporate transactions course. Rusaw is actively involved in the ABA’s M&A committee, including as chair of the biennial ABA Canadian Public Target M&A Deal Points Study and issue group leader in the biennial ABA Canadian Private Target M&A Deal Points Study.

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David Weinberger

Law firm: Stikeman Elliott LLP

Year called to the bar: 1994

David Weinberger is a partner at Stikeman Elliott LLP’s mergers and acquisitions, capital markets and securities groups. His practice focuses on M&A, capital markets transactions and private equity transactions. Weinberger has significant experience advising both bidders and targets in hostile and negotiated M&A transactions. He has advised underwriters and issuers on numerous financing transactions, including IPOs, bought deals and private placements in the real estate, diversified products, retail, technology, media, telecommunications, gaming and financial services sectors. Weinberger’s private equity practice focuses on advising on investments, acquisitions, going private and exit transactions. His securities practice includes advising public companies on governance, disclosure and transactional matters. Weinberger has guest lectured on numerous occasions on matters of corporate law with Osgoode Hall Law School and has been a course instructor for the Law Society of Ontario’s bar admission course in business law.

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David E. Woollcombe

Law firm: McCarthy Tétrault LLP

Year called to the bar: 1991

David E. Woollcombe is a partner at McCarthy Tétrault LLP’s Toronto office. He focuses on mergers and acquisitions and has advised many Canadian and international businesses and private equity firms on acquisition, divestiture and reorganization transactions. He has also represented boards of directors and dissidents on proxy fights, governance and contested matters. Woollcombe has significant experience in capital markets matters and has acted for issuers and investment dealers in a wide variety of cross-border and domestic public offerings and private placements. He regularly advises on joint ventures and related shareholders agreements across a broad range of industries, including natural resources, financial services, technology, consumer products, media and telecom.

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