Precedent Setter Awards 2022: Warren Cass

In his search for novel challenges, Cass became an expert in the world of cryptocurrency
Portrait of Warren Cass

Warren Cass thinks a lot about what the legal system, at its best, can accomplish. “I’m fascinated by the way people set out the rules, agreements and compromises that allow us to function as a community greater than the sum of its parts,” says the 37-year-old partner at Gowling WLG. “That’s law.”

Portrait of Warren Cass

Warren Cass

Partner, Gowling WLG
Year of call: 2013

In his securities practice, Cass has sought out work that poses novel challenges. To cite one example: he’s become an expert in cryptocurrency. By helping businesses interpret the industry’s complex web of regulations, he has a front-row seat to how lawmakers are trying to both preserve cryptocurrency’s benefits (by allowing people to easily engage with the novel technology) and mitigate its risks (by keeping it fair, open and transparent). “I believe in the promise and revolutionary potential of crypto, as well as the importance of protecting investors from manipulation and fraud, and the public from crime,” he says. “To me, working in crypto means helping to achieve those objectives.”

His client roster has included Coinsquare, Canada’s largest cryptocurrency exchange. Last year, the Vancouver-based fintech outfit Mogo acquired 39 percent of the company. Cass was the lead associate on a seven-person team that handled the transaction. “This was more complicated than your run-of-the-mill M&A deal,” says Peter Simeon, a partner at Gowling. “But Warren stepped right up. His ability to project-manage files and deal with clients is superior.”

Cass also dedicates time to equity and inclusion work. An openly gay lawyer, he founded OpenHouse Canada, a network of LGBTQ2+ employees and allies at Gowling. The group has launched several initiatives, including a series of webinars that are available to Gowling lawyers and the broader public. Cass is particularly proud of an event that featured the directors of No Ordinary Man, a documentary on the trans icon and musician Billy Tipton. More than 700 people logged on to watch.

Outside the legal world, Cass is a volunteer board member at Artscape, which provides affordable space to artists in Toronto. “By providing housing, studio and performance spaces,” he says, “we’re able to support creativity and enhance communities.”

This story is from our Summer 2022 Issue.

Photography by Kayla Rocca. Hair & makeup by Aniya Nandy.