2011 Precedent Setter Award Winner: Cornell Wright

Introducing Cornell Wright, a lawyer who stands out
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on print

Cornell Wright
The Zen Master

  • Partner, Corporate Law, Torys LLP
  • Called to the bar in 2002
  • Key player in some of Torys’ biggest transactions, including Thomson Corporation’s $18-billion acquisition of Reuters Group
  • Board Director, Canadian Merit Scholarship Foundation
  • Winner, Ann Wilson and Rob Prichard Award for Community and Professional Service, 2009
  • Steering committee member, Law in Action Within Schools student engagement program


Cornell Wright sits amid teetering stacks of legal papers as serenely as one might rest in a Japanese rock garden.

A heavy hitter in the high-stakes world of mergers and acquisitions, 37-year-old Wright says his life follows “the ebb and flow of transactions” as though his work comes and goes softly like a summer breeze.

But the transactions Wright’s talking about are vast, multi–billion dollar affairs — the Woodbridge Company’s sale of CTV and acquisition of The Globe and Mail, for instance, or the historic formation of Thomson Reuters, Canada’s first dual-listed company.

“These deals are incredibly complicated,” Wright admits. “A lot of what we do operates at a very fast clip.” But rather than let stress overwhelm you, he says, “you just accept that as your norm.”

Wright’s “norm” is the average person’s crisis: the birth of his first child, Spencer, came just three weeks prior to closing the Thomson Reuters deal.

He made it to the hospital in time, and while the steady stream of couriers to the front desk and occasional conference calls in the bathroom “raised a few eyebrows among the nurses,” Wright says everything — both the birth and the Thomson deal — went smoothly.

Not surprising, given Wright’s Zen philosophy. “If you walked around feeling the weight of the world on your shoulders, it’s an incredible burden,” he says with an easy smile. “You have to be able to adapt.”