Renno Vathilakis



Dispute resolution

Celebrating seven years in business as of March 2022, Renno Vathilakis is another Montréal litigation boutique but one that follows a decidedly unconventional model. “This is not the cookie-cutter type of firm doing the routine, boring work,” notes a peer. “These guys take on whatever they want.” “Whatever they want” includes a vibrant mix of high-risk/high-reward litigation cases that range from class actions (often in the plaintiff capacity) to contentious family law cases for high-net-worth individuals. Karim Renno, a “maverick” trial lawyer who held posts at Stikeman Elliott and IMK before forging this firm, is called “very good at getting out there and getting his name around town,” by a peer. Renno’s assertive promotion is supported by his aggression in the courtroom. A peer concedes, “If you’re looking to ‘do the dance,’ you’re going to hate going against him because you’re going to get hurt. If you try to dance around him, he will sink his teeth into your legs. You literally can’t go on autopilot for a minute – Karim will always be watching you and waiting for an opening to exploit a weakness.” Renno was lead counsel representing Corporatek in a major securities case in which the opposing party is alleged to have participated in a massive Ponzi scheme and committed fraud. He was also lead counsel for Eurobank in an appeal in a $10 million case against Bombardier regarding the enforcement of international letters of credit. Michael Vathilakis also walks his own line, with a practice that combines class actions, arbitration work (including international work) and a steady stream of contentious divorce work for high-net-worth individuals requiring an independent advocate. The novel nature of Vathilakis’ practice has put him at the forefront of some cutting-edge issues; in addition to quintessential family law issues such as custody, spousal support, child support, patrimony, applicable matrimonial regime etc., the vast majority of his family law files have also entailed corporate/commercial issues. Vathilakis had the opportunity to work on a same-sex divorce between two power clients within the real estate industry. In the class actions capacity, Vathilakis has been advancing existing files and, most recently, filed the motion for bringing a class action against TD Waterhouse with respect to allegations that the bank illicitly limited trading on their platform certain securities including GameStop, Nokia and AMC amongst others. Vathilakis has drawn vocal support from some fiercely loyal clients; one testifies, “I appreciated the initial contact whereby he granted me, as he always does to new clients, a one-hour initial session free of charge, where both of us would be able to assess if our eventual relationship would be positive and hold firm. I consider this policy to be a very noble gesture on his part; I have not heard of this with other law firms in Montréal.” Speaking to Vathilakis’s approach, this client insists, “Michael sees clearly the overall picture, with a cool head, including the chances for an eventual settlement or court action, which counteracts, for the better, the shorter views of his clients, and those of opposing counsel. His sincerity is unquestionable. He has many times told me ‘Let me be upfront with you,’ which means that he has at heart the best interest of his client and the case at hand, above any personal bias for a given course of action. I feel very confident that he will do his utmost to bring about the best possible outcome, for any given case. His unbiased attitude scores very high in my book, as we have so often heard of friends complaining of expensive legal fees for little advancement in their case. This is not the case with Michael or his firm. By the way, his fees are very reasonable and comparable to other firms.” A client the divorce capacity extols, “From the moment I hired Michael, I knew I had the upper hand in what turned out to be the divorce from hell. As emotional as a divorce could be, Michael was always by my side to calm things down and to flip things over to help me see the more intelligent way of moving forward in our case in order to get the outcome we aspired for.” A third client sums up, “Montréal street smarts with Harvard pedigree. Michael is someone you want on your team in any complex litigation file.” A peer also weighs in on Vathilakis’s behalf: “Over the course of the past five years or so, I have had the opportunity to work on several cross-border pieces of commercial litigation with Michael; all with huge stakes on the line. Michael is exactly the lawyer whom you want in those moments. He is calm, rational, vested and practical. He articulates the arguments in a succinct and clear manner. He takes the time to understand everything about the issue and approaches the file with a no-nonsense demeanor. If I was in need of representation - with everything on the line - Michael would be my first choice.”