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Mr. Levitt says he had no intention of letting a high-overhead whale feed off his “very lucrative” firm.

The Globe and Mail
December 7, 2005

The Law Page
Would you like fries with that firm?

Toronto franchise law boutique Levitt Hoffman will be no more as of Jan. 1. That’s because the three-lawyer shop is merging (to use the politically correct term) with 700-plus giant Gowling Lafleur Henderson. Founder and franchising big cheese, Ned Levitt is less diplomatic about the arrangement. “It’s a swallowing rather than a merger,” he said with a chuckle. “But I’m happy to be swallowed.”

Mr. Levitt says he had no intention of letting a high-overhead whale feed off his “very lucrative” firm. But that was before a fateful walk in his North Toronto neighbourhood with his Portugese water dog, Marley, about two ago. Mr. Levitt’s next door neighbour, real estate lawyer Mark Madras, happens to be on Gowlings’ management committee and was out on the rounds with his golden retriever. Proof: another dog-walking courtship was born.

A casual comment by Mr. Levitt, 58, about his future led to a meeting with Gowlings’ Vancouver-based intellectual property partner Leonard Polsky, who convinced Mr. Levitt the firm could offer a national platform for growth. Mr. Levitt, whose clients include Royal LePage, Sobeys and Cara, figured it made sense, since financing work is becoming increasingly national, with cross-country financings and income trust conversions all part of the landscape. “To do that, you’ve got to have firepower,” he said. Also joining Gowlings in Toronto are partner Jeff Hoffman and associate Joseph Kennedy, plus several support staff.


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Risks: Hubris, General counsel, Uniform national franchise law, Income trusts, Canada, 20051207 The Law

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