Vice President, Legal & General Counsel

FirstOntario Credit Union
Posting Date:
Oct 03, 2022
FirstOntario Credit Union
Area of Law:
Corporate Law
Position Type:
General Counsel
5+ years as a lawyer practicing corporate and/or commercial law


Massey Henry is pleased to support the Vice President, Legal & General Counsel recruitment on behalf of FirstOntario Credit Union. FirstOntario is a full service cooperative financial institution, serving members throughout the Golden Horseshoe, Niagara, and Southwestern regions of Ontario for over 80 years. With $5.2B in assets under management in 2021, FirstOntario is one of Canada’s largest credit unions, serving more than 126,000 members with a full suite of banking products.

Status: Full-time / permanent
Location: Ontario, Canada

About FirstOntario Credit Union

FirstOntario Credit Union (FirstOntario) is a full service cooperative financial institution, serving its members throughout the Golden Horseshoe, Niagara, and Southwestern regions of Ontario (Hamilton, Halton, Niagara, Haldimand/Norfolk, and Oxford) for over 80 years. With $5.2B in assets under management in 2021, FirstOntario is one of Canada’s largest credit unions.

FirstOntario serves more than 126,000 members with a full suite of banking products, from chequing and savings accounts to mortgages, loans, business services, and highly qualified investment advice. Its continued success has been achieved with a dedicated commitment to its members and communities.

Community Impact & Partnerships

With a commitment to cooperative values, FirstOntario’s profits are invested into the communities it serves through support for entrepreneurs, financial literacy, and charitable pursuits, including its award-winning student nutrition program, as well as community partnerships with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, Forge FC, Hamilton Bulldogs, and various FirstOntario venues.

The Opportunity

Reporting to the Chief Strategy Officer, the Vice President, Legal & General Counsel (General Counsel) provides expert counsel on a broad range of legal issues pertaining to FirstOntario Credit Union. The General Counsel brings both strategic and tactical leadership to the function, overseeing legal documentation, regulatory compliance, external counsel relations, as well as legal leadership in the areas of Government Relations and M&A.

The General Counsel manages key stakeholder relationships across the organization, building trust and establishing credibility while operating with a high degree of integrity. Recognized as a “builder”, the General Counsel will further evolve, refine, and develop the internal legal function within FirstOntario, enhancing the function’s structure to support organizational growth. As well, working closely with the Chief Strategy Officer, the General Counsel assists in the development and implementation of FirstOntario Credit Union’s broader strategic plan.

Key Accountabilities

  • Provide legal services and advice to FirstOntario while ensuring compliance with applicable legislation; provide representation for legal proceedings, agreements, and regulatory compliance matters

  • Ensure all policies, by-laws and documentation are fully compliant under applicable legislation; stay up to date on new/changing legislation and relay changes to appropriate business partners

  • Assist in the implementation, administration, and monitoring of legal and regulatory compliance requirements relating to FirstOntario and its members

  • Provide strategic leadership to the Legal function by embedding business strategies that help FirstOntario grow while mitigating risk and exposure

  • Manage Government Relations at the Federal, Provincial and Municipal levels

  • Provide legal leadership in M&A; research and support potential acquisition opportunities by creating sound business cases and giving legal advice

  • Assist in the development and implementation of programs around several strategic initiatives, including a social purpose, strategic plan, and execution of mergers & strategic partnerships with other credit unions in the system

  • Draft, negotiate and manage all legal and corporate documents, including but not limited to supplier contracts, as well as regulatory and compliance filings and responses

  • Advise management on contractual rights and obligations and respond to internal and external inquiries relating to contract issues

  • Be the point of contact for all legal decision making within the organization

  • Manage external legal counsel relations and engage in external support for legal proceedings such as contract negotiations, employment law and litigation matters as required

  • Impact corporate initiatives and projects by keeping inventory of corporate projects, working with the governance team to manage a project up through the Board and completing legal work on strategic initiatives where applicable

  • Address and identify internal areas of concern, providing resolutions so as to not progress to a legal matter

  • Liaise regularly with department heads and various stakeholders to ensure operational compliance

  • Assist in the preparation and review of various business documents and communications, including but not limited to corporate communications, press releases, advertising, marketing materials and other documents that impact the business

  • Participate in organizational negotiation and mediation, as required

  • Assist with risk management activities to ensure credit and liability risks are mitigated appropriately

  • Contribute to the strategic direction through active involvement with the Executive Leadership Team (ELT)

  • Be a member of the Management Credit Committee and oversee workouts of both retail and commercial credit files that have progressed to collections

  • Advocate for sensible legislative and regulatory change where applicable, and contribute to drafting any related documents

  • Research and lead applications for grants, bursaries, awards, and other government programs

  • Attend industry meetings and conferences as a representative of FirstOntario

  • Be responsible for monitoring legal spending and appropriate use of legal budget

  • Work closely with Corporate Investments on their many initiatives and provide legal services to support their objectives

  • Regularly coach and provide feedback to team members to enable them to excel in their roles

  • Conduct legal research and prepare reports and presentations

The Individual

The Vice President, Legal & General Counsel (General Counsel) brings progressive experience as a lawyer practicing corporate and/ or commercial law, ideally within a financial services environment. A strong collaborator with the ability to quickly establish credibility with stakeholders across the organization, the General Counsel combines sound legal expertise with business acumen. Both strategic and tactical in their approach, the successful candidate is a practicing lawyer with high integrity, able to apply a strategic lens to help build and evolve the internal legal function within FirstOntario.

Key Qualifications

  • Strong business acumen; five (5) or more years of experience as a lawyer practicing corporate and/ or commercial law

  • Knowledge of and experience with legislation and regulations relating to the financial services industry in Canada including but not limited to the Credit Union and Caisses Populaires Act, 2022

  • Sound experience managing a high performing team, with a focus on people leadership and coaching; ability to lead a team build, with strategic view on the broader team structure

  • Innately demonstrates superior written and verbal communication skills with demonstrated experience drafting high-quality agreements and legal documents

  • Extremely detail-oriented and highly analytical, with good judgment and sound risk-mitigating skills

  • Strong negotiation skills

  • Demonstrated ability to adjust to multiple demands and shifting priorities; able to quickly respond to requests for service from all of your clients

  • Inherently demonstrates a high level of integrity and trustworthiness

  • Demonstrates superior interpersonal, communication and presentation skills

  • Acts in difficult and challenging situations and deals with uncertainty

  • Mitigates enterprise risk factors and ensures compliance with applicable regulations, legislation, and FirstOntario policies and procedures

  • Willing to work flexible hours, including evenings and weekends, as the job demands; travel as required


  • Bachelor of Law Degree (LL.B or J.D); MBA considered an asset

  • Member in good standing with the Law Society of Upper Canada


Contact Name Gaurav Pokharel

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