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Phillips Lytle to open office in Ontario; Firm aims to bolster Canadian connection

Phillips Lytle has opened its first Canadian office, to strengthen the law firm's cross-border legal services.

The new location is in Kitchener, Ont., about 100 miles from Phillips Lytle's home base in Buffalo. The law firm will use the office to serve its existing base of more than 200 Canadian clients, as well as to connect with companies that might be interested in tapping into the U.S. market.

"We saw this as kind of a natural growth of our ongoing efforts to develop our client base in Southern Ontario," said David J. McNamara, the firm's managing partner.

Why Kitchener? The city, along with Waterloo and Cambridge, helps make up Canada's Technology Triangle. The region has become a hub for start-up and high-tech companies like BlackBerry maker Research in Motion and Google.

More than a dozen of the firm's lawyers will spend some time at the Kitchener office, providing U.S. legal counsel in a variety of areas.

Phillips Lytle has set up shop at the Communitech Hub, a digital media innovation center designed to accelerate the development and success of digital media companies, ideas and collaboration. It is the only U.S. law firm among several other professional services firms in the Hub.

"Communitech is pleased to have Phillips Lytle LLP become a resident company in the Communitech Hub, serving the start-up community and other technology companies in the Waterloo region," Iain Klugman, Communitech's president and chief executive officer, said in a statement.

The location gives the firm something it was lacking: a physical presence in Canada. Until now, its lawyers had to meet with their Canadian clients either at their place of business, in conference space, or at other law firms, McNamara said.

"We certainly hope it will be a significant benefit to the firm," he said.

McNamara said Phillips Lytle remains on track to eventually move from One HSBC Center into the top of four floors of the former Donovan State Office Building, a $30 million redevelopment project between Main and Washington streets at Scott Street that will be led by Benderson Development Co. The firm's lease in One HSBC Center is set to expire in December 2013.

Meanwhile, McNamara said Phillips Lytle is not affected by the planned sale of HSBC's Upstate New York branch network to First Niagara, since the law firm's relationship with HSBC is through commercial banking, rather than retail banking.

email: mglynn@buffnews.com

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