Susan Tomaine

Forty Under 40 Winner 2016: Partner, Blake Cassels & Graydon, Age 39

“If there’s a big deal happening in Vancouver, I want to be in it and I want my firm to be on it,” said Susan Tomaine, a partner and transactional lawyer at Blake, Cassels & Graydon.

Tomaine represents companies in merger and acquisition deals or as they arrange corporate finance. Many of these deals are worth hundreds of millions of dollars. 

She recently represented T&T Supermarket in its $225 million acquisition by Loblaw Companies (TSX:L), and Kaminak Gold Corp. when it was acquired by Goldcorp (TSX:G) for $520 million.

In the large deals you are always working against the clock, she said. “But you’re also working with very sophisticated parties on all sides and there’s so much to learn in those pressure-cooker situations.”

The small deals have similar issues but different stresses involved.

“The margin for error is very small,” Tomaine said. “You’re working directly with founders or family-owned businesses and this is their own personal wealth. This is their livelihood. You want to make sure you advocate for them and get them the best possible outcome.”

Tomaine moved to Vancouver “for love” from New York, where she worked as an associate at a Wall Street firm. “I had to make a choice as to whether I was going to stay in New York or if I was going to come out here and give it a shot,” she said. “It was a big leap of faith from a professional perspective.”

Tomaine said her career has taught her about how to apply limits. “The job will take and take and take, and you have to know when to say, ‘I need to go for a walk. I need to take some downtime. I need to clear my head.’”

Her volunteer work as the chair of Big Sisters of BC Lower Mainland helps with that. “It’s just been a fantastic experience,” she said. “We’re mentoring young girls at their vulnerable time through a variety of issues, and providing them with a stable, positive mentor makes a positive impact in their lives.”

“Whether it’s setting an example for young girls or helping young lawyers in their career, mentorship is one of the key ways we can help advance people,” she said.

Join us to celebrate the 2016 Forty under under 40 Awards January 25, 2017 at the Vancouver Convention Centre. For tickets and event info visit