The York University Magazine

Fall 2015

The alumni magazine of York University

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one of the firm's corporate clients asked him to help with their U.K. portfolio. "The plan was to go to London for one or two years and then return to Canada," he explains. The decision to relocate his career and family – Brant and his wife, Joline, had two children at the time, aged three and five – didn't come easily. "It was tough at that time to be out of the [Canadian] market, even for a short time. Colleagues thought I had it made working in a great city like London, but there were no promises. It really was a gamble." If you ask him today, Brant will tell you the gamble has paid off. Under his leadership, McCarthy's U.K. office has grown from three to 25, and the firm regularly sends lawyers to London to gain international experience. Brant is also past president of the Canada-United Kingdom Chamber of Commerce, a hub for Canadian-U.K. business interests and a platform for a long and impressive list of high-profile politicians and business leaders. During Brant's tenure as president between 2012 and 2015, the chamber hosted Prime Minister Stephen Harper; Prince Andrew, the Duke of York; Governor General David Johnston; and the chief economists of Canada's top five banks, among many others. Twenty-seven years after taking his first career detour, Brant has no immediate plans to return to Canada. "Professionally, it feels like the whole world is here doing business," he says of his adopted city. "There are large businesses competing from every corner of the globe. It's a fascinating place to be." He tells his own children and the young lawyers he mentors to take a page from his career book and seek out unexpected opportunities that come their way. "It's not just about good schools and good grades; everyone should put themselves outside their comfort zone once in a while." W HEN IT COMES TO career planning, McCarthy Tétrault Managing Director Robert Brant (LLB '91) might well be his own worst enemy. At age 19, the Kingston, Ont., native set out for Western University in London, Ont., to com- plete an undergraduate degree in economics. "I was going to do an MBA," he remembers, "but the law school admission test came up before the GMAT (Graduate Management Admission Test). I decided to do it just in case." Brant's unplanned foray into law left him wanting more, and he soon found himself applying to York's Osgoode Hall Law School. It was 1988. "I never did get around to writing the GMAT," he laughs. At Osgoode, Brant established a new goal – to practise aboriginal law. Half Mohawk and a descendent of Joseph Brant, the Mohawk chief who led an aboriginal-Loyalist band against the rebels during the American Revolution, Brant figured he had a unique perspective to offer. A sum- mer job at McCarthy Tétrault working on an aboriginal land claim file was supposed to give him a taste of what he was seeking. And then he started what he thought would be his least favourite rotation: corporate securities law. "On my very first day as a summer student, I went with a lit- igator to an enforcement proceeding. Over lunch, he asked me if I wanted to take the next witness. I learned later that he didn't think I'd say yes." But he did. A quarter-century later and Brant has never left. Now managing partner of McCarthy's London, England, office, he is ranked as one of the top corporate mergers and acqui- sitions practitioners in Canada and the U.K., according to Chambers Global, a legal directory of international business lawyers published by London, England-based Chambers & Partners. Brant made the move from Toronto in 1998 when London Bridges Gambling Man Robert Brant gets down to business

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