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Cozen O’Connor expands Vancouver litigation practice

Wednesday, July 28, 2021 @ 11:33 AM | By John Chunn

Cozen O’Connor announced the addition of litigator Laesha J. Smith to the firm’s Vancouver office.

According to the firm’s press release, the former litigation counsel for the British Columbia Securities Commission brings to the firm a nearly two-decade career focused on civil and administrative litigation and regulatory investigative litigation matters.

“With the increase in international litigation and cross-border transactional activities, now more than ever it’s important for our clients to realize they have allies working directly with them who are familiar with their jurisdiction,” Barry Boss, co-chair of Cozen O’Connor’s commercial litigation department and co-chair of the white collar defence and investigations practice, said in the news release. “Laesha brings a tremendous depth of relevant experience with an excellent track record of persuasively liaising with senior counsel, clients and public authorities to navigate often complex litigation. Cozen O’Connor clients will greatly benefit from her addition to the team.”

Smith will be reunited with former colleague Brigeeta Richdale, Cozen O’Connor’s vice-chair of the white collar defence and investigations practice, who previously served as a prosecutor in the Enforcement Department at the British Columbia Securities Commission. At the BCSC, Smith litigated complex enforcement proceedings before the commission’s administrative hearing panels and was a direct report to the executive director. She managed a full docket of enforcement cases related to alleged breaches of the Securities Act and played a significant role in facilitating enforcement investigations into potential misconduct in the securities market by delivering legal advice to commission investigators. She frequently collaborated with the chief enforcement counsel to develop and implement litigation branch policies and procedures and advised on legal aspects of complex or novel public policy concerns.

Smith spent over a decade at international law firms in New York and London, where she represented banks and foreign and domestic corporations in connection with U.S. regulatory and criminal investigations involving securities, commodities and insider trading offences, as well as violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. She focused on contentious regulatory work and acted for financial institutions in high profile, complex regulatory investigations, both in Canada and the United States, across a very broad range of regulatory issues, including market abuse, insider dealing, anti-bribery and corruption, fraud, regulatory reporting and other types of systems and controls failings.

Smith graduated with honours with a BA in English from Queen’s University and a joint LL.B and BCL law degree from McGill University. She is a member of the Canadian Bar Association, the American Bar Association, The Advocates’ Society and the Canadian Association of Black Lawyers.