In another sign of changing times in Canada’s once-staid legal market, Montreal-based Heenan Blaikie broke apart in February. The law firm’s collapse attracted keen interest south of the border, as Am Law 100 firms such as Dentons and Baker & Mc­Kenzie rushed to pick up the pieces. Global giant DLA Piper, which has offices in more than 30 countries but not in Canada, made a run at taking on as many as 70 Heenan lawyers before talks failed.

Although not one of Canada’s elite Seven Sisters law firms, 40-year-old Heenen Blaikie had 500 lawyers and nine offices across Canada (plus one in Paris), and was noted for its strengths in corporate, IP litigation and labor and employment. It counted former Canadian prime ministers Jean Chrétien and Pierre Trudeau among its lawyers. But an exodus of partners over the past year weakened the firm; disputes over compensation and the firm’s leadership as well as a drop-off in transactional work were cited as the main factors that led Heenan Blaikie to officially go bust on Feb. 5.

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