People on the Move: Gowling’s Paula Clancy and Megan Cornell feel right at home

Clancy and Cornell
Clancy and Cornell

Paula Clancy and Megan Cornell have taken their booming law practices to Gowling WLG, and they couldn’t be happier about it.

Clancy, 53, a trademark lawyer and agent, has rejoined the firm’s global intellectual property group as a partner while Cornell, 47, a corporate lawyer supporting entrepreneurs and tech, has been welcomed to the national corporate group as a partner based in its Ottawa office. They were both previously running their own boutique law firms.

“It feels great,” said Clancy of returning to her old stomping grounds. “The reception has been fantastic and warm. I’m very excited about the move back.”

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Clancy started her career at Gowling in 1994. She made the decision to leave the firm in 2008 in order to have more flexibility and control of her time, both as a parent and as a lawyer. Clancy has six children ranging in age from 12 to 25 with husband Michael, also a partner at Gowling. 

Within a month of her departure, she launched her own eponymous IP law firm.

“The last 13 years were great,” she said. “They allowed me to have that family time and be with the kids … and grow my practice. It literally started out in my home office with a handful of clients. Then, over the last 13 years, it just grew exponentially from there.”

Clancy said it was that dramatic growth, combined with a competitive hiring market and labour shortage, that led to her decision to return to Gowling, which has the resources she needs.

“It’s very hard to compete with the larger firms for talent,” said the former Forty Under 40 award recipient. “There was a time when, as a small firm, we could offer things that the larger firms couldn’t offer, like remote work and flexibility. Post-pandemic, everyone can offer that now and does offer it.

“It’s very hard to compete with the larger firms for talent.”

“We needed the team and infrastructure to help us and to help me, in particular, because I was trying to manage the firm in addition to running a very busy legal practice and taking on other professional commitments.” 

Clancy is highly active in the global IP community. She was recently elected to serve as a director of the International Trademark Association for the 2022 to 2024 term and is currently a director and treasurer of the Intellectual Property Institute of Canada. She’s also a past director of both SOS Children’s Villages Canada and the Children’s Aid Foundation of Ottawa.

For Cornell, her decision to team up with Gowling wasn’t made lightly.  It seemed to make the most sense, she said, in order to meet the needs of her clients and to take the growth of her practice to the next level. 

“There’s a particular growth stage where all the overhead work relating to your growing team falls very heavy on the entrepreneurs’ shoulders,” said Cornell. “It’s not the cost, it’s the extra work that goes into growing. That’s where we were, in terms of hitting a barrier. Do we just keep adding more resources or do we say, ‘Let’s join a team that already has those resources in place?’”

Cornell had conversations with “a long list” of interested firms.

“Really, right from the start, Gowling did stand out,” said Cornell, who founded Kanata-based Momentum Business Law in 2012, focusing in such areas as mergers and acquisitions, corporate structuring, governance, commercial agreements and joint ventures. The mother of two was also a member for nearly eight years of the Kanata North BIA’s business and economic development committee.

She’s now working closely with Lorraine Mastersmith, a partner and head of the business law department at Gowling. They used to work together at Perley-Robertson.

“It was really a natural fit to say this is the right home for us,” said Cornell.

She did have one major concern: her clients’ reaction to her joining an international law firm.

“You don’t go and canvas your clients when you’re making this decision, but the reaction has been overwhelmingly positive,” said Cornell.

“I knew I was choosing the right (firm), but you never know if your clients are going to get that immediately. And they did. It says a lot, frankly, about Gowling’s presence in the market, too, that people were immediately comfortable with it and understood that this was bringing a greater depth of expertise.

“There wasn’t a sense of, ‘Wait, we’re a local Ottawa business, are we going to disappear in this giant firm?’ There was confidence right away that Gowling does have a real local business presence.”

The experience of running Momentum Business Law was very rewarding, Cornell said.

“Certainly, one of the first questions I’m asked has been, ‘Well, aren’t you sad to give up something you built?’ It doesn’t feel that way at all. It truly doesn’t. It just feels like the continuation of growth.”

People on the move across Ottawa

Rosemary Thompson has joined the Business Council of Canada as vice president of stakeholder relations. Thompson is a former senior executive with the National Gallery of Canada, Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity and the Ottawa-based National Arts Centre. The former journalist also worked in network television for more than 20 years, with both the CBC and CTV, becoming deputy bureau chief of the parliamentary bureau for CTV National News.

Public affairs industry veteran Elizabeth Roscoe has signed on to Rubicon as a senior vice-president. She previously spent 12 years leading national public affairs for Hill + Knowlton Strategies. Roscoe is also board chair of the University of Ottawa Heart Institute Foundation.

Experienced professional fundraiser Cynthia Little is the new campaign director for Ronald McDonald House, a non-profit organization located near CHEO to provide families of sick or injured kids with a temporary home away from home. She was most recently interim president and CEO of the Royal Ottawa Foundation, where she worked in fundraising for nearly nine years.

Ray Charron is the new vice-president of finance, development and construction at Gatineau-based real estate developer Brigil. He spent 10 years with Mattamy Homes, most recently as its vice-president of finance. 

Caroline Topolovec has been hired as customer success manager at Noibu Technologies, an e-commerce SaaS startup that detects, prioritizes and resolves critical e-commerce errors to prevent lost revenue. Perks of her new job include having a view of the Redblacks’ home games at TD Place. Noibu’s headquarters are located at Lansdowne Park.

Former Wesley Clover executive Greg Vanclief is the new CEO of Kingston software firm Elentra. ​​Vanclief spent more than two decades as a senior executive at Ottawa-based Wesley Clover. He served the past six years as the firm’s managing director of global investment after a 10-year stint as vice-president of business development.

Geneviève Dumas has joined the Fairmont Château Laurier as its first female general manager. The experienced hotelier was previously the GM for 10 years for the Fairmont’s Le Château Montebello in West Quebec and has worked in her industry for more than 25 years.

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