Memberportrait Jacob Associates

Sylvia Jacob

1. Are you primarily based in Germany?

Yes, our main office has been in Munich since 1996 but both Sylvia Jacob and Greg Magas travel to Canada frequently in connection with their long-standing association with both the firm Goldman Sloan in Toronto and Mackenzie Fujisawa in Vancouver, where we also meet with clients and ensure that client work in Canada can be handled locally.

We believe that the strength of our firm is that we are able to serve clients both in Germany and Canada to ensure that their matters are effectively handled.

Often, our German clients want to meet with us first in Germany in order to explain their plans to us in German so that we can discuss the Canadian legal issues they will face and work out an action plan. This avoids time-consuming travel at the early stages of a business project but ensures that we are able to carry out the necessary legal and market research (for example, research on the availability of certain business names, incorporation of corporate entity and taking up contact with local service providers such as real estate brokers and bankers).

2. Are your customers mainly German or Canadian?

Surprisingly, about 50% of our clients are German companies or private investors with business interests in Canada and 50% are Canadian businesses with business interests in Germany. Sometimes the balance is 52/48 but it is always relatively equal. We believe that this results from the fact that we are present in both jurisdictions and have become known to both law firms and other service providers such as Consulates, Trade Associations and business groups in both countries as a result of our involvement in these associations over many years.

3. What kind of people come to you to look for advice?

Although we are a so-called “boutique firm” due to our small size, we consult a broad range of clients, including large German multi-nationals, private investors as well as simply German citizens who once bought a house in Canada and want to sell it or close out a Canadian bank account in connection with an inheritance in Germany. On the Canadian side, we generally represent Canadian multi-national firms doing business in Germany and also provide opinions on German law to Canadian law firms.

Given Sylvia Jacob’s lengthy experience as both a lawyer qualified in Ontario (since 1986) and in Germany (since 1996), we are able to offer general advice on almost every issue that comes up for Germans doing business in Canada and, due to our affiliation with many law firms all across Canada, can combine our expertise with that of our colleagues in Canada to provide all-encompassing representation and effective legal solutions in every province. As a result, we are able to build a “virtual” firm of professionals to suit the varying needs of our clients. But not all clients need a large legal team and many appreciate personalized service from lawyers who are available to them in Germany in the same time zone.

For our Canadian clients, our main advantage is that both Sylvia Jacob and Greg Magas have spent many years both studying and working in Canada and, as a result, are completely bilingual and able to explain what differences there are between the two legal cultures and how they affect doing business in Germany for Canadians. This can avoid much time and expense in the usual “trial and error” experience of firms doing business in foreign jurisdictions.

4. Why and when have you decided to set up a cooperation with a Canadian law office in Toronto? On which criteria has this decision been based?

Sylvia Jacob started her legal career with the Toronto law firm of Goldman, Sloan and is now a partner in the firm. There is a close relationship to every lawyer in the office and this results in effective team-building for German clients. Similarly, we have worked with the Vancouver firm MacKenzie Fujisawa for more than 10 years on the West Coast of Canada and also have a close relationship with the lawyers there.

Other factors in maintaining these associations are quality of service and quality of results for clients as well as speed and efficiency in resolving client matters.

We believe that it is the way of the future to work in cooperation with many qualified professionals, in order to serve the goals and needs of our clients.

5. Why did you specialize in Canadian and German law and in which fields of these laws have you specialized in?

The lawyers in our firm are either first-generation Canadian immigrants or have multi-cultural backgrounds. As such, we have studied and worked in Canada, England, Germany and other countries. Interestingly, there are very few Canadian law firms that are actively involved in the German legal market. Our firm was the first and our aim is to bridge the gap in understanding between the Canadian and German legal cultures.

The areas in which Sylvia Jacob has considerable expertise are focused on the needs of business immigrants: setting up businesses, negotiating contracts and, if necessary, enforcing contracts in court in both Canada and Germany.

The areas in which Greg Magas has focused involve issues of employment law, real estate transactions and estate matters.

6. What is the main difference between German and Canadian law?

While one should never oversimplify because each legal matter is unique, in our experience, the main difference experienced by Germans is that it appears to be much easier to set up a company in Canada but it is much more complicated to litigate a case before the courts. Germany does not have procedures comparable to discovery of witnesses and discovery of evidence. These steps are very time-consuming and expensive and lead to considerable delays.

For Canadians, the German legal system with its commercial register courts makes setting up a company in Germany very complicated, time-consuming and expensive. Also, German employment legislation is often experienced as a hindrance in doing business.

7. What are your main areas of consulting?

Everything to do with running a company successfully in either Germany or Canada and, most recently, helping Canadians and Germans wind up estate matters in both jurisdictions.

Our website is It contains a full description of the legal services we provide.

Thank you very much for the opportunity to present our firm!


 The interview was conducted by Christiane Doersam.