In recent years, the legal profession has been impacted by the globalization of the business environment and technological disruption. With the practice changing so quickly and dramatically, lawyers and law schools are trying to gauge what the future will bring and how they can stay ahead.
Join top in-house legal counsel Simon Fish (Executive Vice-President and General Counsel, BMO Financial Group), Melissa Kennedy (Executive Vice-President, Chief Legal Officer & Public Affairs, Sun Life Financial) and Av Maharaj (Vice President, Corporate & Legal Affairs, Kraft Heinz Canada) in a discussion moderated by Jean Cumming (Editor-in-Chief and Market Director, Lexpert). The panelists will divulge their expertise on what resources and support in-house counsel require from law firms and how both can successfully make the transition adapting to our ever-disruptive world.
Simon Fish (Executive Vice-President and General Counsel of BMO Financial Group)
Mr. Fish is responsible for the overall legal, regulatory and compliance affairs of the bank. His responsibilities include mergers and acquisitions, securities and banking regulation, corporate governance, and complex litigation. He is a member of the bank’s executive committee.
He chairs the bank’s reputation risk committee, and the environmental, social and corporate governance committee. He also serves as BMO’s executive diversity champion and is co- chair of the leadership committee for diversity and inclusion. Mr. Fish is a recipient of the Canadian Centre for Diversity & Inclusion’s 2016 Senior Executive of the Year award. He was named one of Canada’s Top 25 Most Influential lawyers in the justice system and legal profession for 2014 by Canadian Lawyer Magazine. In 2013, Mr. Fish received the Canadian General Counsel of the Year award for excellence in leadership in the profession.
Mr. Fish joined BMO from the global mining company CVRD (“Vale”) where he served as executive vice-president and general counsel of the Canadian and international operations. Prior to that, he was vice-president, general counsel and corporate secretary of Shell Canada. Earlier, he held a number of different positions with Royal Dutch Shell plc in the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, South Africa and Canada. Before joining Shell, Mr. Fish practiced corporate and securities law with Dechert LLP, an international law firm.
Mr. Fish serves on the boards of a number of not-for-profit institutions and industry associations.
Melissa Kennedy (Executive Vice-President, Chief Legal Officer & Public Affairs, Sun Life Financial)
Ms. Kennedy has responsibility for the Company's global legal, compliance, corporate secretarial and corporate and public affairs functions.
Ms. Kennedy joined Sun Life in 2014 with a breadth of experience spanning private practice, regulatory and in-house roles. Prior to Sun Life, she was Senior Vice-President, General Counsel and Corporate Affairs of Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan, one of Canada's largest pension funds, a position she held for five years. Ms. Kennedy started her career in private practice followed by roles as head of the prosecution team at the Ontario Securities Commission and as Vice-President, Associate General Counsel at CIBC.
Ms. Kennedy has a Bachelor of Arts (Economics) from Carleton University and a Bachelor of Laws from the University of Toronto. She was called to the Ontario Bar in 1989 and is a graduate of the Institute of Corporate Directors. She serves on University of Toronto's Law Alumni Association Council, Board of the Toronto Financial Services Alliance, Executive Committee of the Legal Leaders for Diversity and Inclusion and received the Arbor Award from the University of Toronto for her volunteer work.
Ms. Kennedy was named Canada's General Counsel of the Year in 2012, and received the Women of Influence, Canadian Diversity Champion award. She received the Zenith Award in 2013 as one of Canada's leading female lawyers. In 2016, she was recognized as one of Canada's Most Powerful Women: Top 100 by the Women's Executive Network.
Av Maharaj (Vice President, Corporate & Legal Affairs, Kraft Heinz Canada)
Prior to his appointment to this position this year, Av worked at Fasken Martineau as Counsel where he was engaged in a variety of client development and transaction management matters. Prior to this experience Av held senior positions at the Kellogg Company. In January 2004 he joined Kellogg Canada as Chief Counsel & Corporate Secretary. In 2009 he became Vice President, International, Legal for Kellogg Company, responsible for the legal operations of the Company outside of the United States.
During his tenure at Kellogg, Av was the founding executive sponsor of the Kellogg Canada Diversity & Inclusion Council. He is also the former Chair of Legal Leaders for Diversity and continues to be a passionate advocate for diversity and inclusion in the legal profession. Av has received several awards including being named In-House Counsel by the South Asian Bar Association and a Diversity Champion by Women of Influence. He is a sought after speaker on issues such as succeeding as in-house counsel and leveraging diversity. He is also a Trustee at Holland Bloorview Children’s Rehabilitation Hospital. Prior to joining Kellogg, Av practiced law at Fasken Martineau and Blake, Cassels & Graydon focusing on securities, M&A and general corporate law.
Av holds an Honours Degree in Economics and a Law Degree from the University of Western Ontario.
Jean Cumming (Editor-in-Chief and Market Director, Lexpert)
Jean Cumming, is the Editor-in-Chief and Market Director of Lexpert, published by Thomson Reuters in Canada. Lexpert comprises directories in which lawyers and law firms are ranked on the basis of peer surveys, as well as a magazine, and award shows recognizing Canadian lawyers.
Jean has also appeared as a legal journalist on television current events and news shows; including CBC Newsworld’s Morning News, and Steve Paikin’s The Agenda. As a volunteer, Jean is on the Advisory Committee for the Walrus Magazine. She is a member of the Board of Regents of Victoria University in the University of Toronto, and of the Law Society of Upper Canada. In addition to her Lexpert role, Jean is pursuing a part-time Osgoode Professional LLM.
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