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Bar Talk

Christopher S. Reed/© Copyright 2007 by Christopher S. Reed

Vancouver lawyer Wei Shao has left Blake Cassels & Graydon LLP to join Fraser Milner Casgrain LLP, where he will co-chair the firm's national China initiative.

He switches teams as law firms across Canada compete fiercely for Chinese clients making investments here. Educated in China and a law graduate of the University of Toronto, he has acted for Asian companies, state-owned enterprises and sovereign wealth funds, and has been part of negotiations between the governments of Canada and China as an interpreter and as a consultant.

FMC's Vancouver managing partner, John Sandrelli, says his new partner will play a pivotal role as the firm expands its Chinese business.

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New treasurer at LSUC

Ottawa lawyer Thomas Conway is the new treasurer – or boss – of the Law Society of Upper Canada, which despite some recent debate retains its anachronistic name. Mr. Conway was acclaimed, and replaces current treasurer Laurie Pawlitza next month.

Mr. Conway, a partner with Cavanagh Williams Conway Baxter LLP, seems ideally positioned to take over the law society, having been involved in many of the profession's controversial issues.

He is currently in charge of a law society task force set up to deal with the "articling crisis" that has resulted from the number of law students who fail to find placements at law firms.

And he is the chairman of the disciplinary panel presiding over the lengthy hearing where Bay Street securities lawyer Joe Groia faces allegations of professional misconduct for "incivility" during the Bre-X trial a dozen years ago.

Mr. Conway, first elected as a bencher of the law society in 2007, also co-chaired a task force on the retention of women in private practice, a key issue for the profession in recent years.

Meanwhile, the Law Society of Upper Canada soundly, and unsurprisingly, rejected calls last week from some at its annual general meeting to update its name to reflect the label the province it serves has used since Confederation. (Upper Canada ceased to exist as a separate political entity in 1841, when it merged with Lower Canada. Ontario became the province's name after Confederation in 1867.)

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