2016 Rising Stars Award Winners

Marc-André Blanchard is an esteemed lawyer from Québec who in April became Canada’s Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the United Nations. In this role, Ambassador Blanchard works to advance Canada’s interests, promote international development, security and human rights, and to keep our government informed on multilateral issues. Prior to his appointment, Ambassador Blanchard had been the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of McCarthy Tétrault LLP, one of the country’s most prominent law firms. He also has a long history of political involvement, as the former president of the Québec Liberal Party and, more recently, as a member of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s transition team. Ambassador Blanchard holds several degrees including a Master's in Public Administration and a Master’s in International Affairs from the Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs. He is a Lexpert Rising Stars alumnus, and in 2013 was named one of the 25 most influential lawyers in Canada by Canadian Lawyer.



Heather Barnhouse Dentons Canada LLP

Play Video
Heather Barnhouse practises in mergers and acquisitions and corporate/commercial transactions, and assists entrepreneurs positioning their companies for growth. She has been lead counsel to a number of clients completing transactions of national and strategic importance, including the creation of a national insurance brokerage concurrent with a private-equity infusion. She is lead counsel to a complex international company with operations in Canada, the US, China, Barbados and Malta, leading the legal team in a leveraged buyout and eliminating a private-equity group’s ownership in the entity without disturbing the existing Canadian and US banking facilities. She has developed extensive experience drafting and negotiating clinical-trial and other research and collaboration agreements, as well as with FDA regulatory processes, distribution arrangements and licensing strategies to expand clients’ reach globally.

Anne Benedetti, Goodmans LLP

Play Video
Anne Benedetti has a wide-ranging administrative and municipal law practice, working closely with both private- and public-sector clients. The projects Anne is involved with cover every stage of the development approval process and extend to special regulatory issues such as environmental management. She has been extensively involved in Waterfront Toronto, involving the redevelopment of the West Don Lands. She has acted for private developers, including Oxford Properties, RioCan REIT and Allied Properties REIT, on projects ranging from office towers to mixed-use redevelopment, retail intensifications and greenfield residential subdivisions. She has appeared before municipal councils, committees of adjustment, the Ontario Municipal Board, the Conservation Review Board and the courts. Anne’s pro bono work includes assisting the family of Sir Frederick Banting in protecting the Banting Lands for their heritage value.

Andrea Boctor, Stikeman Elliott LLP

Play Video
Andrea Boctor is head of the firm’s national pension and benefits group. She has worked on a number of complex pension firsts, including the unprecedented set of pension regulations achieved for Essar Steel Algoma (ESAI) in 2013 and 2014. That effort led to first-of-its-kind pension legislation in Ontario, enabling a company, its employees and their community to stave off a potential financial crisis. Another first is Andrea’s work with Eckler shortly after a company filed for CCAA protection. The mandate involves the first attempt to convert a private-sector defined-benefit (DB) pension plan to shared-risk, the first time such a plan was ordered by the pension regulator to be restored to a DB pension plan and the first time any of these issues were dealt with in a CCAA proceeding.

Chris Brett, Suncor Energy Inc.

Play Video
Chris Brett is an up-and-coming leader in the Calgary legal community who manages legal risk while delivering business-oriented solutions. His recent work has included numerous complex acquisitions, divestitures and joint ventures in oil and gas and renewable energy; structuring and negotiating sophisticated commercial agreements, including risk-participation agreements with international commercial banks; drafting and negotiating long-term pipeline transportation service agreements, including for the Fort Hills Oil Sands Project; and handling diverse pipeline regulatory matters. He has played a leading legal role in various wind power projects in Ontario, very quickly learning the Ontario feed-in-tariff regime and Ontario’s large-renewableprocurement regime. He has also taken on legal aspects of consultation and commercial arrangements with First Nations and Métis groups in the oil sands. Chris is a leader in United Way campaigns and an active supporter of minor hockey.

Gabrielle Brochu, Langlois Lawyers, LLP

Play Video
Gabrielle Brochu practises civil and commercial litigation, with widely acknowledged expertise in construction, professional liability and disciplinary law. She has practised professional liability law before all levels of court for 15 years, defending doctors, chiropractors, lawyers, brokers, chartered evaluators, engineers and architects facing civil or disciplinary proceedings. Her recent high-profile work includes representing architects and their professional-liability fund against $15 million in claims alleging faulty insulation in condo chimney ducts; litigating a claim for more than $8 million in damages for allegedly faulty plumbing installations in the Mels Studios commercial building; and defending a day camp where a six-year-old child nearly drowned and is now severely handicapped. Gabrielle has taught at the École du Barreau du Québec since 2007 and volunteers at a suicide-prevention centre.