ZSA acts as cross-border matchmaker

ZSA acts as cross-border matchmaker

21 January, 2013

When a law firm wishes to fill a perceived gap in its ranks, it is not unusual to employ the services of a legal head-hunter. But when it comes to merging or combining two firms, that scenario is, more often than not, precipitated by direct talks between managing partners based upon personal connections of some sort within the two firms.
One of the things that make the combination of lawyers from Aylesworth LLP with Dickinson Wright LLP unique, was the role played by premier Canadian legal head-hunting firm, ZSA. By all accounts, ZSA not only introduced the parties, but also acted as a trusted and effective sounding board/go-between for both parties throughout the process.
Dickinson Wright LLP (“DW Toronto”) first opened in November 2008 with two leading Canadian gaming lawyers and was affiliated with Detroit’s legendary Dickinson Wright PLLC (“DW PLLC”) whose long and storied history includes being the law firm that first incorporated Chrysler.  The long term view however, was always to build a greater Canadian presence that could service the needs of DW PLLC’s Great Lakes Basin clients.
Enter ZSA.
ZSA co-founder Warren Bongard, has a reputation for finding top notch lawyers.  Last summer, when DW Toronto was looking to expand their service capabilities, they called him for advice. Warren could see the synergies of bringing a solid, mid-sized Toronto firm into the DW family.  In fact, he already had a firm in mind.
Meanwhile, just a few blocks away, Aylesworth LLP was going through some soul-searching in terms of its best strategy for the coming years.  According to its now former managing partner, Eric Kay, Aylesworth partners saw the future for full-service, smaller Toronto firms as not particularly bright.  The firm needed to “do something different” to continue to grow and prosper. Globalization seemed to hold the promise of a better future and so it seemed logical to look for partnership with a non-Canadian firm that would be advantageous to Aylesworth’s stable of mostly Ontario-based clients; preferably, given the amount of inter-related economic activity in the Great Lakes region, a US firm that had a network of offices in the area.
The match with Dickinson Wright seemed to have been made in heaven; not only did DW PLLC have the regional network Aylesworth was looking for (as well as growing nation-wide U.S. footprint), it also had a culture that fit closely with that of Aylesworth. As Kay says, “there was no need to turn the world upside down.” Conversely, combining with Aylesworth would ensure that DW PLLC’s foothold in Toronto would be firmly entrenched. Because of the synergies and cultural fit, the deal came together quickly by summer’s end.
On January 1, 2011 a new firm (containing 23 former Aylesworth lawyers, 3 lawyers from Solomon Grosberg and the 3 lawyers of DW Toronto), Dickinson Wright LLP (Toronto) was born.  It remains affiliated with Dickinson Wright PLLC and is one of only a small handful of truly international firms in Canada; giving regional clients easy and seamless access to cross-border legal advice.

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