The recession may be spreading doom and gloom on Bay Street, but it has been a boon for insolvency lawyers like Adam Maerov. A partner in McMillan LLP’s restructuring group, Maerov makes the term “restructuring” sound positively exciting when he describes the course of action confronting a company that can no longer sustain its debt load.
A business can reorganize its operations and/or its balance sheets either as part of a court-supervised process or outside of court. Numerous stakeholders may be involved: secured lenders, customers, suppliers, employees, landlords, governments, even those interested in purchasing assets.
“On any given day, I can be representing any one of those,” Maerov, a boyishly charming 34-year-old, explains. “So it’s not like you can just master the issues that a secured lender is worried about. You have to be able to be flexible and deal with things from the perspective of the landlord, or the court-appointed officer — we represent those guys, too.”
After earning a bachelor of commerce from the University of Alberta in his hometown of Edmonton, Maerov moved east to attend law school at the University of Toronto. Upon graduation in 2002, he articled with McMillan where he discovered his affinity for insolvency law.
“In 2001, the market was down, and there were all kinds of telecom insolvencies going on, so there was lots of good work,” Maerov recalls. “I really liked the people and the work was challenging and engaging.”
After his call to the bar he returned to the firm, but by then the tech bubble recession was over. McMillan, however, has long been known as one of Canada’s leading firms for restructurings. “I was lucky in that our firm had some substantial roles on some really big files, like Air Canada and Stelco, so I was able to keep reasonably busy when a lot of other people at other shops weren’t. The pickup started in the fall of 2008, and so far 2009 has been crazy.”
Maerov credits the 12-member restructuring group’s great teamwork for ensuring they’re all able to maintain a life outside of the office. He and his wife, Margie, have two young sons aged two and a half and eight months, with whom they spend time at Jays games and playing in the park. An avid outdoorsman, he longs for the day when his kids are old enough to go sailing.
And when they eventually ask what he does for a living, Maerov figures he has at least one good yarn to tell them. They may not understand how he keeps businesses afloat, but his part in the great Canadian cookie rescue should grab their attention. Acting for the debtor, Maerov’s team recently restructured the largest manufacturer of non-brand-name cookies in Canada, including all the Decadent chocolate chip cookies for President’s Choice.
“It’s a good-news story,” Maerov explains. “The company was able to preserve 300 jobs in Kitchener, which has been really hit hard by the auto-sector collapse.
“To actually successfully restructure a company in that market, where there was no credit available, was really great. I feel very good about the fact that there are now 79 million pounds of cookies being produced in Canada because of our efforts.”
Employer: McMillan LLP
First Job: Accountant at the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle
Proudest Moment: First solo flight at Toronto City Centre Airport
Worst Course in Law School: Private international law
Greatest Frustration: Eight-month-old Jonah hasn’t slept through one night
Favourite Law Movie: Is L.A. Law a movie?
Personal Style: Designer Spit Up