June 04, 2012
Michael McKiernan looks at the most potentially lucrative practice areas for individual lawyers, as well as the hottest fields where every law firm is scrambling for a piece of the action.
Some may be put off by a career in M&A for fear it puts them too much at the mercy of the markets, especially following the recent credit crunch and its continuing reverberations. But Sharon Geraghty says the area's significance has actually surged since the financial crisis. "In recent years, the capital markets have really slowed down in Canada. Before that, we also had a big income trust phase that was an incredibly active area of practice, before the government shut it down from a tax perspective, so I think M&A has started to take on even greater importance," she says. With large financial players waiting it out on the sidelines until we hit calmer economic waters, high-end firms like Torys have been able to sustain a mergers practice with a series of strategic deals.
Sharon says a good M&A lawyer must learn to juggle moving parts and multiple viewpoints. She cut her teeth on the Royal Bank of Canada's 1993 merger with Royal Trust, and currently represents TMX Group Inc. in its discussions with Maple Group, a consortium of 13 financial institutions. "It's one thing to sit in your office and come up with a great solution to a technical problem, but you have to come up with a way for it to work for the other side, because otherwise, you're not going to actually complete the deal," she says.