2016 Rising Stars Award Winners


Michael Mjanes, DLA Piper (Canada) LLP

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Michael Mjanes is a member of the real estate and corporate/commercial groups with a complex list of engagements that includes acting as lead counsel to the Simon Fraser Student Society on the financing, construction and leasing of a new $55-million student union building on SFU’s Burnaby campus; acting for the Oppenheimer Group, a fresh-produce distribution and marketing company, in its phased sale to Total Produce; acting for Canfor in its $65-million acquisition of the Elko and Canal Flats sawmills; acting for StorageVault Canada on multiple strategic-asset acquisitions; and acting for an emerging energy company in its Series A financing round, including negotiation of subscription agreements, security holders’ agreement and debenture issuances. Michael is involved in Access Pro Bono, where he has provided a free monthly legal clinic to economically disadvantaged people.

Ryan Morris, Weirfoulds LLP

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Ryan Morris is Co-chair of the tax group at WeirFoulds. He is a top Canadian tax counsel to sophisticated domestic and international clients. He recently assisted a Fortune 500 company with an internal reorganization, won an important tax dispute for one of its franchisees and advised on several compliance matters. He has significant experience advising issuers, including a Big Five bank, on sophisticated tax-focused investment products. He is regularly the lead tax lawyer for M&A transactions, including then publicly listed Soltoro on a share disposition by plan of arrangement to Agnico Eagle Mines. He has acted as lead counsel on tax disputes, up to and including the Supreme Court of Canada. Ryan has introduced the WeirFoulds Access to Justice Tax Dispute Program to provide self-represented litigants with duty counsel at the Tax Court of Canada.

Mark Morris, Axess Law Professional Corp.

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Mark Morris aims to be a workflow pioneer. Through Axess Law, he has been instrumental in building processes that allow for the daily delivery of commoditized legal services, enabling many thousands of files to be transacted on a monthly basis. His daily business activity involves building repetitive simplicity into everyday legal processes. Innovations include: bringing volume-based legal services to consumers; open-concept legal services that maintain solicitor-client privilege; transactional recording of interactions to recall individual instructions and interactions; flat-fee disaggregated pricing on a limited number of items; and opening hours that match retail need. Last fiscal year Axess Law served over 40,000 Ontarians. Mark has been a volunteer with the adult literacy program at the Toronto Public Library and is a board member of the parental engagement committee of his children’s school.

Denise Nawata, Farris, Vaughan, Wills & Murphy LLP

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Denise Nawata is an M&A and securities lawyer focused on cross-border deals and public and private capital market transactions. Denise’s transactions in the past year include: representing Intrexon Corp., a global leader in synthetic biology, in its US$40-million acquisition by plan of arrangement of Okanagan Specialty Fruits Inc.; acting as BC counsel for the Orion Mine Finance Group in the US$540-million construction financing package to advance the Pretium Resources Inc. mine; and acting as part of the deal team that represented Tekmira Pharmaceuticals Corp. in a US$750-million merger with Oncore Biopharma, Inc., to create a global leader focused on an oral cure for hepatitis B. Last year Denise joined the faculty of UBC’s Sauder School of Business as an adjunct professor to help design an inaugural course on international mining law.

Terri-Lee Oleniuk, Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP

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Terri-Lee Oleniuk’s practice focuses on project-related issues in natural resource development and regulatory, environmental and Aboriginal law. Her recent work includes representing BluEarth Renewables in the first hearing into development of an Alberta wind farm; playing a key role in securing approvals for the Lower Churchill hydroelectric project for Nalcor Energy — a $10.3-billion, 3,000-megawatt dam project opposed by ENGOs, Aboriginal groups and landowners, which withstood eight separate court challenges by ENGOs and Aboriginal groups; and managing the hearing process for Kinder Morgan’s proposed $6.8-billion Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, including leading preparation of the final 450-page argument, after which the NEB recommended approval; and leading TransCanada’s submission to the NEB hearing on pipeline abandonment. Terri-Lee has served 10-plus years as Board Chair at the Cerebral Palsy Association in Alberta.