Gowling WLG partner Usman Sheikh has been named a winner of the South Asian Bar Association (SABA) of Toronto's Legal Excellence Award for 2018.
The annual SABA awards celebrate the achievements of South Asian lawyers and their contributions to the legal profession. Sheikh will receive his award on Nov. 28 during the 2018 SABA gala at the Liberty Grand in Toronto.
"Usman is a tremendously worthy recipient of this award," said Peter Lukasiewicz, CEO of Gowling WLG Canada. "He is knowledgeable, a great teacher and a skilled team builder - the epitome of the type of lawyer we strive to develop at our firm."
With impressive foresight, Sheikh saw a gap in the legal market for expertise in the area of blockchain technology and immersed himself in the field to develop the skills, knowledge, and leadership to serve clients in this growing sector.
"When most were still unaware of this nascent field and only a few companies were starting to grasp its potential, Usman was already well advanced in comprehending its fundamental importance to the law and business," added Lukasiewicz.
In addition to advising on highly novel blockchain mandates such as initial coin offerings (ICOs) and cryptocurrency exchanges, Sheikh has served as counsel on several of Canada's first blockchain civil and regulatory cases. His clients include Canada's largest banks and companies, the co-founders of Ethereum, nine of the top 60 cryptocurrencies in the world and numerous pioneers in the blockchain community.
"Usman's understanding of how this emerging technology functions, together with his knowledge of its legal and regulatory aspects, truly distinguishes him as a leader," said Lukasiewicz.
Sheikh is head of the firm's national Blockchain & Smart Contracts Group, which comprises more than 80 legal practitioners across Canada, the UK, Europe, the Middle East and Asia. He was instrumental in assembling the group, and regularly assists its members in organizing blockchain conferences, securing speaking opportunities, authoring papers and solidifying blockchain mandates.
In addition to his SABA award, Usman has earned a number of other honours this year. These include being named to Canadian Lawyer's Top 25 Most Influential Lawyers list, being included on Benchmark Litigation's Under 40 Hot List and achieving an Acritas Stars ranking.
About Gowling WLG
Gowling WLG is home to one of the world's leading blockchain legal practices. Our Blockchain & Smart Contracts Group comprises seasoned practitioners from all legal disciplines, including capital markets, financial services, tax, and intellectual property - making us expertly qualified to advise clients on a broad range of legal issues related to blockchain technology.