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Les Viner of Torys LLP

Kevin Van Paassen/Kevin Van Paassen/The Globe and Mail

Torys LLP, one of Bay Street's top law firms, is throwing its cowboy hat into the ring in Calgary as global interest in Canada's natural resources continues to grow.

The firm, which until now had offices in Toronto and New York, announced on Thursday that it is opening an office in Calgary with seven lawyers. The new team includes four partners poached from the large local office of rival Blake Cassels & Graydon LLP.

Compared with most of its rivals, Torys is late to establish a foothold in Calgary, where many national firms - including Blakes, Osler Hoskin & Harcourt LLP, Stikeman Elliott LLP, and McCarthy Tétrault LLP - have large offices that they have expanded in recent years.

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The Toronto-based managing partner of Torys, Les Viner said he plans to build up "as soon as possible" to a team of 20 to 30 lawyers in Calgary and expand from there.

"Stating what everybody knows, it is one of Canada's two key economic centres," said Mr. Viner, a Calgary native. "And it is a great place to do business."

He said the move to Calgary is a natural next step for the firm, which has been concentrating on international business in the Persian Gulf, China and India - all places where there are investors interested in Alberta's oil sands who need Canadian lawyers to close their deals.

Canadian capital is also hunting for oil-and-gas investments, including potential customers in Calgary's oil-and-gas sector who are looking for overseas acquisitions, Mr. Viner said, adding that his team in Calgary will be able to use their energy-deal expertise for clients anywhere in the world.

"This is all part of a master plan … The ideal trifecta for us of Calgary, Toronto and New York is not only a great national play but a very international positioning for us," Mr. Viner said.

Other law firms have recently attempted to crack the competitive Calgary legal market, including Ogilvy Renault LLP, which opened an office there last year. (Ogilvy Renault is slated to merge with Britain's Norton Rose later this year.)

Hugh MacKinnon, chief executive officer of Bennett Jones, a national firm with Calgary roots, said it makes sense for big Canadian firms to have boots on the ground in Calgary. "It's very important for Canadian law firms to have a significant presence in Calgary," he said, "and I think it makes sense for Torys to start developing a presence similar to what a number of other Toronto firms have done."

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About the Author
Toronto City Hall Reporter

Jeff Gray is The Globe and Mail’s Toronto City Hall reporter. He has worked at The Globe since 1998. From 2010 to 2016, he was the law reporter in Report on Business, covering Bay Street law firms and white-collar crime. He won an honourable mention at the National Magazine Awards for investigative journalism in 2010. More

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