Allen & Overy is closing down its Canadian office after just a year.
The impact on the Toronto real estate market won't be huge. The only staffers are a partner, an associate and a PA. The firm never even moved out of a serviced office.
It's a damp squib ending for the firm's Canadian adventure. A&O was once thought to have real ambitions in the country, sending over fact-finders in 2011 to investigate the possibility of a launch. The board quashed that proposal in favour of Australia, with suggestions that it has decided that the Seven Sisters, Canada's equivalent of the Magic Circle, had the top of the market sewn up.
Four years later, A&O opened its micro outpost in Toronto. It was ostensibly to keep hold of a partner, Francois Duquette. A Quebecois, Duquette had planted the flag for A&O around the world, helping set up offices in Abu Dhabi and Casablanca, but wanted to move closer to home.
|Seven Sisters managing partners hear the news
Before it opened, A&O told RollOnFriday that the Toronto office would not be competing with local firms and would continue to refer domestic Canadian work to its local network. Duquette told The Lawyer, “The purpose is to seed the network”, and take advantage of "low hanging fruit".
Instead, Duquette is moving in-house and A&O's miniature arrival has concluded with a miniature departure. The firm will revert to its former method of managing Canadian client relationships, on a fly-in-fly-out basis.
A spokesman said, "We would like to thank Francois for the contribution he has made during his time at Allen & Overy and wish him all the best for the future".