2016 Rising Stars Award Winners


Kate Ryder, Cenovus Energy Inc.

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As a seventh-year lawyer, Kate Ryder’s accomplishments and responsibilities are truly remarkable. In 2015, she led negotiation and successful settlement of a $40-million construction dispute. She currently manages and works directly with external counsel on all of Cenovus’s most significant litigation matters. In the past year, she has been responsible for aggregating and standardizing Cenovus’s litigation-management practice. She also acts as counsel or lead counsel on matters related to an industry-leading general partnership between Cenovus and ConocoPhillips, for which Cenovus acts as managing partner and operator. She has demonstrated the ability to extend beyond the role of legal counsel and contribute to corporate strategy. Kate is a board director for the Indefinite Arts Society, which promotes opportunities for people with developmental disabilities. She also volunteers with Student Legal Assistance at the University of Calgary.

Kurt Sarno, Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP

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Kurt Sarno specializes in M&A, private equity and joint ventures and co-leads the private-equity group. He was the lead or key member of teams that advised CBS on worldwide reorganization of its International Distribution Business; Baring Private Equity Asia on its investment in TELUS International; Aecon Group and Airport Development on the sale of their majority interest in the Quito, Ecuador International Airport; Wynnchurch Capital on its investment in Carson Air; Kraft Heinz on its international postmerger integration; Holcim in its merger with Lafarge; Wynnchurch Capital on its acquisition and subsequent sale of NSC Minerals; and CBS on the worldwide reorganization of its outdoor advertising business. Kurt has done pro bono work for Habitat for Humanity and fundraising for the United Way.

Nicole K. Skuggedal, Lawson Lundell LLP

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2 0 1 6 W I N N E R P R O F I L E S 5 3 Nicole Skuggedal’s practice ranges across a number of industries where she is involved in complex arbitrations, human-rights tribunals, collective bargaining, negotiations and court cases. These include acting as co-counsel to the appellant in a case involving constitutional authority over labour relations of First Nations organizations that reached the Supreme Court of Canada; counsel to the mediator in highly contentious public-sector collective bargaining involving the BC teachers’ dispute; advising Weyerhaeuser on litigation regarding employees entitlement to pension benefits post-termination and related pension valuations; resolving grievances on postretirement health-care benefits of 1,500 Weyerhaeuser retirees; and developing collective bargaining strategies to reduce risks of unionization in northern municipalities, the film industry and the education sector. Nicole donates time to the Western Canada Society to Access Justice as a pro bono clinic volunteer.

Kathrine Smirle, Royal Bank of Canada

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Kathrine Smirle has done exceptional work in private practice and as in-house counsel for the Royal Bank of Canada. At RBC, she is responsible for litigation management, class actions and providing legal advice to key stakeholders and corporate groups. Her ability to quickly and directly get to the heart of complex matters has enabled her to become an invaluable business asset. Prior to her role at Royal Bank, she worked in litigation for Ogilvy Renault LLP, advising noted clients on regulatory matters, class actions and general civil and commercial disputes, particularly large-value corporate/commercial litigation of trusts and estates, as well as business restructuring and receiverships. Kathrine is committed to justice, inclusion and equality, working for Women Gaining Ground, the Liberal Party of Ontario and East Coast Connected, fostering the Atlantic Canada community in Ontario.

Susan Tomaine, Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP

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Susan Tomaine works in the cross-border M&A and private-equity fields, across industries including mining, technology, biotech, retail and manufacturing. She has taken a lead role on highly complex transactions, including representing Kaminak Gold in its acquisition by Goldcorp for $520 million; Indochino Apparel in a $42-million investment by Dayang Group; GCT Global Container Terminals in its $1.02-billion refinancing; Lundin Gold in its US$240-million acquisition of the Fruta del Norte Project from Kinross Gold; QuadraFNX Mining in its $3.5-billion sale to KGHM Polska Miedz; T & T Supermarket in its $225-million acquisition by Loblaw Cos.; and Lucara Diamond in the $72-million acquisition of the Karowe Mine in Botswana. Susan is a leader of the Vancouver-based Women’s General Counsel Forum providing providing, mentoring and development opportunities to in-house lawyers.