It’s not quite the same as bringing down the house but a law firm will close off a street in downtown Toronto Thursday night to celebrate 25 years in business.
But the firm, Wildeboer Dellelce LLP, which started with six lawyers and now has 35 on staff, is no stranger to making waves as it gathers with its clients for an event it calls “celebrating 25 years of excellence as one of Canada’s premier business and corporate finance transactional law firms.”
Managing partner Perry Dellelce said, “we had to move heaven and earth to get the street closed.” But those efforts were assisted by Sick Kid’s Hospital, for whom the event is dedicated.
Closing off the inappropriately named Temperance Street is another example of the way the firm goes about its business: compete hard, operate with a different work life balance, be a little more creative — and have a pool table in the middle of the office.
In what may be one of a kind — a corporate finance law firm devoted to litigation, class actions, intellectual property and employment law launched in Toronto and still around 25 years later — the firm has much to celebrate.
“In our chosen area of practice we compete against the best law firms in the country and we punch above our weight,” said Dellelce, adding the firm’s focus on entrepreneurs started early: given that it couldn’t take clients from its former employers, it concentrated on executives who would grow their businesses. “By definition they were entrepreneurs.”
Gene McBurney, one of the founders of GMP Securities, said the law firm’s success has arisen because it has “hired good lawyers. Perry is the relationship guy with both issuers and underwriters. Relationships lead to revenue,” he said, noting by adding tax and real estate lawyers the law firm has rounded out its toolbox.
As an underwriter, GMP has worked on many deals with Wildeboer Dellelce (WD). The relationship started early: in 1997, shortly after both were formed, GMP (and RBC) was lead manager and WD was issuer’s counsel on the initial public offering of Research in Motion (now Blackberry.)
And WD embraces the new wave of issuers in marijuana, blockchain, crypto-currencies and fintech. “The entrepreneurs are in those sectors,” said Dellelce, and “we tend to get that business.”
Charlie Malone, “lawyer number eight,” and a 20-plus year veteran, said the work environment is the firm’s “secret sauce.” The other plus is that he has been able to “direct the growth and be part of the decision making.”
Veteran journalist Fred Langan knows the Dellelce family and the law firm, having written books on both. “Perry is a very entrepreneurial guy who comes from two entrepreneurial families in Sudbury. Through hard work they became very successful,” he said, adding Perry is also “great at coming up with ideas. He is always thinking, has lots of energy and knows everybody.”
Some of the ideas involve a different role for a law firm. “They are not conventional,” said Langan, noting the firm’s lawyers work in the appropriately named Wildeboer Dellelce Place. For instance, in 2009 it formed an exempt market dealer, WD Capital Markets, a corporate finance and M&A advisory firm. Its website lists 30 such transactions.
In late 2017 it added to its repertoire when it acquired a 50 per cent stake in Numeric Answers, which provides financial reporting services. This year, in another breakthrough, it allowed its clients to pay some of their legal bills in cryptocurrencies: Bitcoin, Ethereum or Litecoin
While non-conventional, Dellelce said they represent “better ways to service our clients,” by adding value to “our service offerings.”