Partner, Torys LLP
Leads 163 employees, 62 of whom are senior leaders
Completed deals this year: 16, including the sale of TMX Group for $3.6 billion
Brian Davis, Executive Vice-President, Corporate Development and Governance, National Bank Financial Inc. Prior to joining National Bank, Brian was senior corporate and securities partner with Torys LLP where he practiced law for 20 years.
From Brian Davis
As told to Hailey Eisen
I met Sharon 27 years ago, when she was starting out as an articling student at Torys and I had just joined the firm after practicing law somewhere else. What strikes me about Sharon is that in those 27 years— while she gained impressive experience and knowledge and became one of Canada’s leading M&A lawyers—she hasn’t really changed at all. At her core, she’s still the same highly principled, vastly inquisitive, and genuinely friendly person I met nearly three decades ago.
What sets Sharon apart is her well-engrained moral compass. Likely instilled by her parents, it guides all of her decisions and prompts her to do the right thing, even when it means forgoing something that would benefit her. For example, she has argued against more partnership compensation for herself in favour of other colleagues. Her motivation is consistently based upon her ingrained view of what’s “right.”
A number of departments within Torys competed over Sharon when she was an articling student. As the hiring processes unfolded, she was wooed by senior members of both the litigation department and the corporate department with offers for a career. It was unusual for a law student to be singled out so early on. And, while she would have been excellent in any practice area, corporate law was the obvious fit. From day one she was innately a business lawyer—she had a clear sense of the corporate landscape and a mind for numbers.
While she’s risen quickly through the ranks of partnership at Torys, she doesn’t concern herself with rank or standing. Her priority has always been practicing law, and doing it well.
One of her most impressive career accomplishments involved her representation of the TMX Group in its $3.6 billion sale to Maple Group Acquisition Corporation following its earlier proposed US$6.9 billion merger with London Stock Exchange Group.
Some corporate transactions unfold as marathons over extended periods of time, while others are sprints with intensive activity over a short life. It is rare for a transaction to make sprint-like demands with the duration of a marathon. And it is rare for Canadian transactions to become as complex and hostile as this one did.
Deals of this sort require huge teams of experts for each phase and there are no roadmaps to follow. These teams also require a leader who sets the direction for their efforts and draws upon the entire team to achieve the best. Sharon was that leader.
Sharon logged hundreds, if not thousands, of hours over the life of this deal, guiding her client from a sophisticated merger with a friendly party, to battling a hostile challenger in a shareholder contest, to, ultimately, a friendly merger. And even then, the transaction faced regulatory reviews.
After working with Sharon for many years, I left Torys to join National Bank Financial. Upon leaving I did two things. First, I left all of my clients with Sharon, knowing they’d be well taken care of. And, second, I became a client of Sharon’s myself, choosing her from a vast pool of business lawyers, all of whom I know very well. My reasoning: there is no better lawyer than Sharon. I trust her implicitly, and she is my first choice—every time.