Global law firm Baker McKenzie announced today that Usman Sheikh, one of the top fintech lawyers in Canada, and Michael Garellek, a leading financial regulatory lawyer, have joined as Partners in the Firm's Toronto office. They bring significant securities, banking and financial services regulatory and litigation experience, strengthening Baker McKenzie's established transactional team in Canada and enhancing the Firm's global fintech capabilities.

"As the world becomes increasingly interconnected through the adoption of new technology, we have seen demand for a full suite of digital transformation-related legal and regulatory counsel," said Joyce Smith, a member of Baker McKenzie's Global Executive Committee. "The arrival of Usman and Michael demonstrates Baker McKenzie's commitment to assisting clients through this changing landscape."

A thought leader on emerging technologies, Usman advises clients on fintech, blockchain and cryptocurrency matters. He has provided legal counsel on cutting-edge token sales and cryptocurrency exchanges, as well as briefed the offices of several prime ministers and ministers on blockchain's disruptive power. Over the years, Usman's clients have included Canada’s largest banks and stock exchanges, co-founders of Ethereum, supranational organizations, 12 of the largest cryptocurrencies in the world, DeFi protocols, metaverse projects as well as several fintech pioneers.

Michael is a highly regarded financial services lawyer with extensive experience assisting Canadian and foreign banks, securities dealers, insurance companies and other regulated financial institutions, as well as fintech companies, money services business and crypto-asset trading platforms, on regulatory and compliance questions in Canada. His transactional and advisory work covers many deal types, both public and private, including OTC derivatives and transactions on carbon markets.

"Usman and Michael are in high demand by their clients, bringing sought-after skillsets, nuanced understanding of Canadian law and sterling reputations as thought leaders in fintech and cutting-edge technologies." said George Avraam, Managing Partner of Baker McKenzie's Toronto office. "We are excited to add them to our team."

Alan Zoccolillo, Chair of Baker McKenzie's North America Transactional Practice, added: "Our established transactional team regularly support clients on fintech transactions and regulatory matters. The knowledge that Usman and Michael bring on developing trends in fintech, blockchain and crypto will be an enormous benefit to clients.”

Usman and Michael are the latest additions to Baker McKenzie in North America focused on transactional matters. They join veteran M&A lawyer Matthew Jacobson (Palo Alto), technology transactions lawyer Cynthia Cole (Palo Alto), tax M&A and private equity practitioner Lane Morgan (Dallas), and fund formation lawyer Shusmita Chowdhury (New York). They also join an established group of fintech practitioners across the Firm, including Joy Lam who joined Baker McKenzie's Hong Kong office earlier this year.

Usman earned his B.A. from McGill University, his M.Sc. from London School of Economics and his J.D. from the University of Toronto. Michael earned his B. Comm and his Diploma in Public Accountancy from McGill University, and his LL.B. from Université de Montreal.

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