It’s no trade secret: MBM Intellectual Property Law had much to celebrate at a well-attended reception it hosted Thursday night to mark its quarter-of-a-century milestone in Ottawa.
Co-managing partners Scott Miller and Randy Marusyk opted to forgo the speeches to let their steady stream of guests enjoy a seamless night of great food, drink and conversation.
The pair first met when they were law students together at McGill University, and decided early into their legal careers to partner together. MBM stands for Marusyk and Miller. Not as obvious is the origin of the B, from once, long ago, partner Alain Bourassa.
Their boutique law firm's headquarters are 14 storeys up in the downtown Ottawa office building at 275 Slater St. MBM also has offices in Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto, Halifax and Montreal for clients across Canada, and throughout the world. There are about 65 people who work for the firm, and it's a number that's been growing.
The professionals at MBM practice exclusively in the area of IP and are quite a scholarly bunch, with expertise in molecular biology, clinical and organic chemistry, neuroscience, and the electrical, mechanical and software engineering fields.
While it sounds so scientific and serious, it’s actually an upbeat work environment, they said. “It’s really important to have fun every day and to laugh,” said Marusyk, while pointing out that they don’t set billable targets for their lawyers, referring to the number of hours lawyers are usually required by a firm to spend working for clients. “People expect an honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay. By doing non-billable targets, you do the highest quality work, and I think that's why we've succeeded — because our focus is on client service."
Marusyk said he loves working in the field of IP law because it exposes him to cutting-edge innovation and technology long before it hits the market, and it allows him to work with truly brilliant people. “Inventors’ minds work differently,” he told OBJ.social. “They’re so creative — the most creative people I’ve met in my life.”
Guests included Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz, along with Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP's Patricia Kosseim, counsel to Osler's Privacy and Data Management Group and national co-leader of its AccessPrivacy platform. She’s chair of the board at The Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, which is the research arm of The Ottawa Hospital and affiliated with the University of Ottawa.
Marusyk has been on The OHRI board for the past 11 years. Also seen from its board were former Ottawa MPP Yasir Naqvi and respected community volunteer Greg Kane, who’s a lawyer at Dentons and long-time supporter of The Ottawa Hospital and its foundation. Ken Newport, former board chair of The OHRI and a corporate director on several boards, was there, as were Gary Katz, co-founding partner of accounting firm Logan Katz LLP, and lawyer Richard Mahoney from McMillan Vantage Policy Group.
Making it to 25 years is humbling, said Miller, chair of the firm’s litigation department. “It makes me reflect on my age a little bit, to be honest with you,” he said, while speaking in his hockey memorabilia-filled office. “It puts things in perspective. We’ve had ups and down, but we’ve experienced greater ups more recently than in the past, and that’s very nice.”
What's been the best part of it all, they both said, are the business relationships with clients, and being able to help them succeed, as well as getting MBM staff to the next level in their careers.
“You see them grow over the years to become senior and very experienced and, finally, you let go; you don’t have to oversee them, you don’t have to supervise them,” said Marusyk. “It’s a lovely thing to see.”
The reception was held throughout the office spaces and boardrooms, and had food stations serving cuisine from around the world.
In the front reception area were shelves upon shelves of wine, so that each guest could take home their own bottle from Niagara's Cave Spring Cellars, equipped with its own MBM wine stopper.
Particularly striking were the orange and white helium-filled balloons. There were 300 in total. “I was going to do 250 but I thought the bigger the better,” said Evgenia Apelfeld, who might want to add "party planner extraordinaire" to her job description of director of marketing and business development for MBM.