Jonathan Reilly’s Journey to English Bay Law Corporation

Jonathan Reilly’s time at a law firm in London helped shape his professional future

After graduating from law at UBC in 2000, Jonathan Reilly was offered a contract to be paralegal at a London U.K. “magic circle” law firm. A six-month contract became two years that spanned boom, bust and recovery and would impact the course of his career.

“It gave me competencies I still draw on today,” says Reilly, the president of English Bay Law Corporation. “I was given great work, with great people, in a great city. It shaped my whole career.”

While some fellow graduates were scrambling, Reilly was grateful for the opportunity to work on high-profile mergers and acquisitions (M&A). With a Bachelor of Business Administration from Wilfrid Laurier University, the job in London gave him an inside perspective that complemented his business background.

Just 10 days on the job, he was sent to Brussels for two weeks to conduct due diligence. On his return, he was assigned a case to work on, which was an acquisition of a private bank by a global financial services firm. “By firm standards the deal was small, so the core team was one partner, one associate and me,” says Reilly. “In a mere 30 days, I had a full education in every stage of a transaction. In articling, you rarely get to do that. You spend six weeks in one department and move to another. You get snapshots, you don’t see the whole movie.”

Reilly also enjoyed access to an extensive library with numerous librarians, researchers and a meticulous, computerized cataloguing system. He worked on M&A deals for buyers and sellers and initial public offerings (IPOs), including what was expected to be one of the largest IPOs in history.  “It was big,” Reilly says, “so the team was large. When the deal started, the telecoms boom was at its peak and we expected it to be the biggest IPO ever, but the winds were changing and the crash was just around the corner.”

Returning to Vancouver in 2002, Reilly completed his bar exams and articled at Lawson Lundell. When he set up his own practice, his London experience was on his mind. He set up an extensive library and a computer system that allowed him to access client files from anywhere in the world. In addition to legal work, he had absorbed practical lessons about marketing, management and document construction. “These were definitely skills that made my own firm possible for me,” he says. “But a large part of being a lawyer is being able to teach yourself new things. I had confidence I was able to learn, and the experience of having done so.”

Now, English Bay Law Corporation focuses on corporate and commercial law. “We help when clients buy, sell and finance their businesses,” says Reilly. “Small, medium or large [businesses]. We especially like to grow with clients. Incorporation, partnership and shareholder agreements; joint ventures, mortgages, offering memoranda and private placements; leases, licenses and more. We do business agreements at any stage of business life, mostly to privately held businesses, but not exclusively, and if a client needs specialized advice, we advise them accordingly and help find the expert.”