Christopher established ZSA (Zarak, Sweeney & Associates) Legal Recruitment, now Canada’s largest and only national legal recruitment firm, in 1997. ZSA also controls ZSA-X, a boutique financial services recruitment firm; LexLocom, a contract legal services firm; and ZSA Accounting. In addition to being CEO of ZSA, Christopher also exclusively recruits Partners and General Counsel.
Born in Montreal, Christopher attained a Bachelor of Arts degree in History from McGill University and a Bachelor of Laws degree from Osgoode Hall Law School. Called to the Bar of British Columbia in 1990, Christopher briefly practised in Vancouver before moving to London, England. There he secured a Graduate Business Degree from the London School of Economics (LSE) and a Masters in British Imperial History from London University. Christopher practised law in London before becoming a legal recruiter with QD (Quarry Dougall), then the pre-eminent global legal recruitment firm based in London.
Christopher founded both the Canadian (CGCA) and Quebec General Counsel Awards (PCJQ) to bring deserved attention to the senior in-house legal community. Christopher has written and spoken widely on the topic of legal recruitment, firm development and career strategy.
Christopher has a passion for history and in 2002 initiated the “Re-Trial of Louis Riel”, a nationally-televised mock trial featuring, amongst others, Eddie Greenspan, Alan Lenczner, and Guy Bertrand. Christopher is a Board Member of the Vimy Foundation, a charity dedicated toward ensuring Canadians remember and honour their First World War efforts and sacrifice. With the Vimy Foundation he initiated the Vimy Pin campaign, whose goal it is to have all Canadians wear a memorial pin each April 9, and the Vimy Ridge Pilgrimage Medal campaign dedicated to saluting Canadians who visit the Vimy Memorial in France. In 2010, Christopher was awarded the Minister of Veteran’s Affairs Commendation for his efforts in raising awareness for the accomplishments of Canada’s Veterans and in 2012 Christopher was presented with the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal. Christopher is also a Board Member of the Shakespeare Globe Company of Canada, on the Advisory Committee of the Cundill Prize for History at McGill University, and is an active member of the Young Presidents' Organization (YPO) and the Albany Club. Christopher is married with three children, enjoys travelling; skiing; spending time at his cottage in the Laurentians; the “Habs”; history; politics; and wine.
President & CEO | Virgin Mobile Canada
'I was extremely impressed with the quality and speed of service we received from ZSA in assisting our search for our V.P. General Counsel position. Warren Bongard and Christopher Sweeney were quick to understand and access our needs and culture. They presented us an excellent pool of accomplished, top quality candidates from which to choose. They were prompt, responsive and highly professional. They added significant value to our search efforts. I would highly recommend the services of ZSA to any firm or company looking to attract high quality legal talent.'
'Throughout our seven-year history with ZSA, they have proven a valuable partner time and again. In particular, I am pleased with the excellent service we receive from Warren Bongard, Christopher Sweeney and others at ZSA. Their dedication to our relationship is impressive, their knowledge of the Canadian legal scene is excellent and the candidates they bring match what we are looking for. I highly recommend ZSA.'
Lindsey joined ZSA in September of 2006 as Managing Consultant of ZSA’s International Division, later becoming Managing Consultant of ZSA’s Calgary office. In her International role Lindsey places Canadian lawyers in positions around the world focusing on the offshore jurisdictions of Bermuda, Cayman and the British Virgin Islands. In her Calgary role Lindsey assists numerous major companies in a variety of industries find top legal talent for general counsel and legal counsel roles. She also helps both junior and senior lawyers move laterally within private practice.
Originally from Edinburgh, Scotland, Lindsey obtained her honours law degree in 1998. She then went on to work with Hammonds LLP, World Trade Group Ltd and the British Broadcasting Corporation in London, UK. Lindsey has spoken at events hosted by Osgoode Hall, the American Bar Association and the Montreal Young Bar Association aimed at providing students with current information on the state of each major legal market. She is regularly quoted in the legal press both in Canada and abroad. Having relocated her family to Canada in 2006, Lindsey’s understanding of the process is first-hand. It is her combination of personal experience, legal expertise and familiarity with each location which have made her successful in recruiting. In her spare time, Lindsey likes to read, play the guitar and snowboard.
Global Head of Human Resources, Conyers Dill & Pearman (Bermuda)
Lindsey Petherick from ZSA has been an excellent legal recruiter for our firm. Our unique hiring criteria make it relatively difficult for us to find an abundance of suitable candidates. However, working with ZSA, this has not seemed to be a problem. They clearly have solid relationships with top professionals in the legal industry and they are very skilled at vetting these candidates against our rather stringent academic criteria.
The candidate profile reports that Lindsey prepares are proof to me that she understands our firm well. In short, I know when Lindsey presents a candidate, it will be a good one! This saves time, and makes my job easier, because it allows me to spend time evaluating candidates who are appropriately qualified and posses the pertinent experience and skill set.
Mike joined ZSA as a consultant in our Western and International Divisions in 2011. He works extensively with law firms, corporations, partners, and associates in the Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton legal markets. Mike also assists Canadian and foreign qualified lawyers in finding legal positions in many of the major financial centers of the world with a particular focus on the London and Dubai markets.
Mike obtained his Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of British Columbia and his law degree from the University of Victoria. Mike began his legal career at Burnet, Duckworth & Palmer in Calgary, Alberta where he articled and worked as an associate in the finance and corporate departments. Looking for international experience, Mike decided to work as an associate at SJ Berwin in London, England. He eventually settled back in his hometown of Vancouver, B.C. where he worked for Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP. Mike has been called to the bar in each of British Columbia, Alberta, and England & Wales. In his spare time, Mike enjoys travelling, playing sports and following his favorite hockey team, the Vancouver Canucks.
With Mikes Aujla’s help, I was hired as a Corporate Immigration Lawyer. I was recommended to ZSA by a friend, who had a successful experience with Paul. Overall, Mike provided excellent service! I was delighted that his services did not simply end when I was offered a position. He went beyond his duties by contacting me after I was offered the position to make sure everything went smoothly and to make sure I felt confident with the transition. I have used one recruitment agency in the past and ZSA far surpasses them. ZSA is quick and the contact with the recruiter is constant. Thus, you always feel like you know what is going on and the status of the job. In addition, Mike made himself available to talk with me after the interview and also after the second meeting with my employer. I found this helpful and it demonstrated exceptional client service skills. I would certainly use the services of ZSA again!
Candidate at Top Firm
ZSA was recommended to me by Michelle Fivel at Major, Lindsey and Africa (a recruiting firm in the States). I spoke with an individual at the Counsel Network initially (as they were recommended to me by a friend), but as they didn't seem to have much in the way of opportunities for a U.S. attorney, I thought to reach out to ZSA as well. Mike Aujla was very pro-active and was quick to respond to my questions. Mike is also very patient and I appreciated that quality since I had many questions due to my unfamiliarity with the Vancouver market. Although my situation was one that I believe required more work, Mike nevertheless continued to reach out to firms for me and act as my advocate. In comparison with past recruiters, ZSA was great! I thought I had a practically impossible situation, but I was able to land an offer as a mid-level corporate associate as a result of Mike’s efforts after working with Mike for only about 2 months! Thanks again Mike.
I worked with Mike on my transition between private practice firms. Mike was extremely helpful in educating me on the process, preparing me for the various interviews and emphasizing my skills to my new employer. His attention to my application was thorough and fulsome and it was a pleasure working with Mike in my last move. I would recommend Mike for anyone keen on learning about or seeking out other employment opportunities in the market.
As a young professional himself, Mike was able to connect with me at a different level than most recruiters. With his experience working in large national firms both in Canada and overseas, he offers insightful advice on how to manoeuvre the tricky legal market to best accomplish your career aspirations. After going through this recruitment process with him, he is no longer a mere acquaintance, but rather a trusted advisor and friend.
Partner / Heenan Blaikie LLP CAL
We have hired a few different positions through Mike Aujla, and most recently a junior to mid-level energy associate. We engaged ZSA because of Mike’s reliability and convenience. We contacted a few other recruiting firms and had meetings with candidates who we thought might be interested. We had a great experience. Mike is very practical, reliable and reasonable and is easy to work with. He continually provided good results and candidates to us. They brought us 2 good candidates that we would not have otherwise encountered without Mike. Mike also helped in convincing the candidates what Heenan had to offer and helped us in making the decision and setting the salary. We have used other recruiters and found our experiences with ZSA to be as good if not better in almost all cases.
BHP Billiton Diamonds Inc.
Our organization was looking for an attorney based in Saskatoon. We did attempt to advertise internally prior to contacting Mike, but then chose to engage ZSA as a result of our previous successful relationship. We really enjoyed working with Mike. He was responsive and easy to work with, flexible to what we needed and with respect to the time difference as I am based in Australia. He was always responsive and friendly. I would definitely use ZSA again.
Legal Counsel, McLennan Ross LLP
I recently changed the direction of my legal career by seeking a place in private practice after years as in-house counsel. Without the assistance of Mike Aujla of ZSA's Calgary office, my transition to a practice that fit with my goals and personal values would not have been possible. Mike was highly attentive to my needs and sought to assist me whenever and however he could by answering questions and sharing his knowledge of firm cultures. I sincerely appreciated Mike's positive attitude towards my job search which kept me in the right frame of mind as I approached my interviews. Mike was more like a friend and coach rather than a mere service provider during the time we worked together. I am now settled at a very good firm with a rewarding practice. I wish to thank Mike for his efforts on my behalf and congratulate him for demonstrating excellence in his work.
Dan Malamet National Director of Programming and Events
Dan joined ZSA in 2006 after previous marketing and business development positions at Baker & McKenzie; the Canadian Corporate Counsel Association; Canada Basketball and Nike Canada. As the Director of Programming and Events at ZSA, he focuses on the creation and execution of events that bring the Canadian legal community together. Examples include the ZSA series of General Counsel Award programmes including the Canadian GC Awards; the Quebec GC Awards and the Western Canada GC Awards. He also was the co founder of the Quorum Club, an invitation only event for General Counsel now in its 14th year in Canada. In addition to those programmes Dan helps co-ordinate ZSA events with the Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC) as well as breakfast briefings with Canadian law firms and lawyers from both the private bar and in-house bar.
Dan obtained his law degree from Osgoode Hall law School and a BA in Political Science and Economics from the University of Toronto. He was privileged to article with Mr Justice Sopinka at Stikeman Elliot Robarts and Bowman (as it then was) and was called to the Ontario Bar in 1980. In his spare time, Dan enjoys traveling on a global basis and following the fortunes of the Raptors and the Blue Jays.
W. David Jamieson | 2011 CGCA Lifetime Achievement Award Recipient
Executive Vice President and Corporate Secretary J. D. Irving, Limited
Dan, Many thanks for all your assistance with the Canadian General Counsel Awards. You were there with support from the very first announcement through the evening and the event at the Four seasons Hotel and all proceeded smoothly. Your particular advice and direction to me was most useful and timely and is very much appreciated. The Monday night event was very impressive. It was definitely a first class operation. The whole event was professionally done, well thought out and planned, and the program and the presentations were excellent. I am greatly honored to have received the Lifetime Achievement award. The tribute video preceding my award was well done. I hope that my acceptance remarks were fitting and apropos for the award and the event. Again, thanks for your guidance and assistance.
Robert Soccio | 2011 CGCA Tomorrow’s Leader Finalist
General Counsel, Corporate Secretary and Compliance Officer ArcelorMittal Dofasco
I would like to thank you for hosting the Canadian General Counsel Awards ceremony earlier this week. It was a fantastic event and everyone I had a chance to speak with thoroughly enjoyed themselves. As one of the award winners said, as general counsel we do not have many opportunities to interact with our colleagues at other companies and so I think that we all truly appreciate the opportunity you gave us to meet with the other leaders in the legal profession – I must say that to hear from David Jamieson was truly inspirational. The entire event was well organized and professional, qualities that I have come to expect from ZSA in our professional dealings and I cannot say enough about your Susan Kennedy and the support that she has given me over the years, especially with respect to rebuilding the ArcelorMittal Dofasco legal department. Again, the entire event from nomination process, to the promotional aspects, to the reception, and to the actually awards event was professionally organized and flawless in execution, which speaks to the talent of the ZSA team, and the caliber of the nominees and the other guests in attendance made it clear that this was the pre-eminent awards ceremony for general counsel in Canada – I am very pleased to have been a part of this very special event.