McMillan LLP, a law firm with five offices in Canada and one in Hong Kong, is starting a public affairs firm, seizing on an opportunity as many of its corporate clients across a number of sectors grapple with heightened regulatory risks.
The consultancy, which is named McMillan Vantage Policy Group, will offer services such as policy and regulatory analysis, strategic communications and government relations, with a goal of bridging the gap between the private and public sectors.
"If you ask general counsels what keeps them up at night, one of the areas – in addition to cybersecurity – is regulatory risk," said Tim Murphy, a lawyer at McMillan who's also the managing director of McMillan Vantage.
"But when you look around, there aren't a lot of places where you can find what is normally done in the U.S., that combination of a public affairs practice and a law firm."
By being able to address both legal and lobbying needs, McMillan hopes to keep more work at the firm, attract new customers and offer more services to its existing clientele. To get started, it's staffed McMillan Vantage with a mix of professionals who have held political office, counselled prime ministers and premiers, and advised senior managers and corporate boards.
Mr. Murphy wouldn't name the companies that are showing an early interest in hiring McMillan Vantage, but said industries where politics and regulation play a starring role include transporation, financial services and manufacturing.
He added that the new public affairs firm caters to McMillan's clients in Asia who are seeking to gain a foothold in the North American market through Canada.
"The timing could not be better," said Stockwell Day, a former politician and strategic advisor at McMillan in Vancouver, referring to last week's results of the U.S. election. "We are already getting flooded with questions just because of the unpredictability of where the U.S. is going to go on trade."