Avison Young names Nicole White as chief legal officer

15 November 2021 Consulting.ca 3 min. read
More news on

Avison Young, a Toronto-based global commercial real estate services firm, has appointed Nicole White as chief legal officer and corporate secretary. She remains based in Houston, Texas.

White, who has been at Avison Young (AY) since 2015, will succeed Robert Slaughter on January 1, 2021. Slaughter will remain at AY as a senior advisor and legal counsel, and will continue to serve on the company’s board of directors.

As chief legal officer, White will oversee AY’s legal affairs, providing legal guidance during the firm’s “ongoing evolution” in “multidimensional data, technology, and consultative solutions,” according to a release from the firm.

The language is part of a wider trend in professional services to expand into the high-margin consulting category, and for that consulting to be as digital-driven as possible (or at least presented as such). Every marketing firm is now a “digital transformation consulting firm,” big engineering firms like SNC-Lavalin and WSP have expressly pivoted their businesses into consulting, and law firms like Manatt have diversified into business consulting.
Avison Young names Nicole White as chief legal officerAY diversified into consulting in April 2020 when it hired Sheila Botting, a former Deloitte partner and real estate industry expert, to head its professional services practice. The practice’s consultants advise on corporate real estate and workplace consulting, infrastructure consulting, valuation and advisory services, and project management.

“As we look to this transition, I am incredibly grateful to Bob for his service – both past and future. There is no area of Avison Young that doesn’t have his imprint and invaluable counsel baked in, nor would our growth and maturity have been possible without his leadership,” said Mark Rose, chair and CEO of Avison Young.

“In her time at the firm, Nicole has earned a reputation as a brilliant legal strategist, a forward-looking business advisor and a calming and inspiring leader,” he added. “She represents the absolute best of Avison Young through her commitment to creating real value for our clients, her unwavering push for diversity, equity, and inclusion, and her belief in the positive impact real estate can have on people’s lives.”

White has served as principal and legal counsel at AY for the last six years, focusing on hiring, engagement, and compensation. She also served as counsel to the firm’s HR function. Prior to joining AY, White spent eight years as counsel at Allstate, where she advised and counseled on employment issues including hiring, discipline, discharge, and disability accommodation. She also served as a subject matter expert on trade secret and restrictive covenant matters.

White holds a law degree from DePaul University and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan.

“I could not be more thrilled to take on this critical role within an organization I value so much,” White said. “The firm recognizes that today’s chief legal officer is more than just the top lawyer, but in fact, is a business strategist that offers alternative perspectives to help navigate the existing and changing conditions in which we operate.”

White will continue to serve on AY’s diversity and inclusion steering committee and in her leadership position as a founder of the firm’s Black professionals resource group.