Sonia T. Mak  


Executive Summary

Sonia T. Mak is a partner in our Toronto office and the leader of the Pension and Benefits Group of the Firm's Toronto office.  She focuses her practice on pensions and benefits law.  She has advised many different stakeholders – including plan administrators, pension fund trustees, investment managers and other service providers, employers and their non-Canadian parents, and individual beneficiaries with respect to different types of retirement income plans and benefits plans. In particular, she has worked closely with clients in the establishment of retirement income and benefits plans, plan mergers, plan conversions, transfers of plan assets and liabilities, plan wind-ups, transfer of jurisdiction of registration, and pensions and benefits arrangements in corporate transactions.

Sonia is an active member of the Pensions and Benefits Law Sections of the Ontario Bar Association and the Canadian Bar Association.  She is currently the Chair of CBA's Pensions and Benefits Law Section.  As co-chair of the Advocacy and Government Relations Committee of CBA's Pensions and Benefits Law Section (2011-2015), she led various submissions on legislative changes and the development of regulatory policies. 

Clients note that Sonia "does all the drafting and does a really good job" and "her responsiveness is excellent". Her peers say Sonia is "very effective in consolidating comments and materials from many sources" and her "commitment, responsiveness, diligence and knowledge of the law have all been outstanding". She is characterized by observers as "dedicated, hard-working and very diligent".

Prior to coming to Canada in 1989, Sonia practised as a corporate lawyer in Hong Kong. She is fluent in Cantonese, and reads and writes the Chinese language.

Sonia was the inaugural Chair of BLG's Diversity and Inclusion Committee (2010-2018).

Representative Work

Pensions and Benefits Law

  • Acted for a national automobile business in the closure of its defined benefit pension plans for new hires; the addition of defined contribution components and the subsequent defined benefit to defined contribution conversions in respect of current employees.  The pension plans are registered in Ontario with employees located in different provinces (some are unionized).  Mandate included preparation of plan amendments and employee communications.
  • Acted for a national automobile business in the change of funding media and master trust fund arrangement for its pension plans and benefit and welfare plans.
  • Acted for a national grocery store in the use of group annuity policies as a de-risking strategy in respect to its defined benefit pension plans.
  • Acted for a financial institution and its affiliates in a legal compliance review of all the "client-facing" documents of their registered plan products.
  • Advised an aerospace business on funding relief in respect of its pension plan registered in Ontario and the use of a letter of credit to fund the solvency deficiency of a federally-registered pension plan.  Mandate included drafting of notices for funding relief and the letter of credit.
  • Acted for a professional company relating to the use of letters of credit to fund the solvency deficiency of its Ontario-registered pension plan.  Mandate included advising on the requirements for the use of a letter of credit and the steps involved, preparation of the letter of credit and trust agreement and regulatory filing,
  • Acted for employers in pension asset transfers under section 80 and 81 of the Pension Benefits Act (Ontario). Mandate included preparation of the transfer agreement and member communications and application for regulatory consent to the transfer. Some of the plans are multi-jurisdictional plans.
  • Acted for sellers and purchasers on the pension and benefits aspects of global business acquisitions.
  • Acted for various financial institutions in relation to their locked-in addenda.  Mandates included drafting of locked-in addenda and regulatory filings and legal compliance review.

A number of the transactions described above were included as "Big Deals" by Lexpert©.

Corporate and Commercial Law

  • Advised on licensing and regulatory compliance of insurance agents and brokers with operations across Canada.
  • Advised on divestitures and acquisitions of the businesses of insurance agents and brokers with operations across Canada.

Publications & Presentations

Sonia is a frequent blogger on the “BLG Not-for-Profit and Charity Law in Canada Blog”. This Blog is intended to be of value to anyone in Canada who has any involvement with Not-For-Profit Organizations or Charities.

  • Co-Author, "Is Annuity Purchase a De-Risking Solution for your Pension Plan," Benefits and Pensions Monitor, November 2018
  • Author, "Non-plan-sponsor held liable for pension plan deficit," a case commentary on Tibbett & Britten Group Canada Inc. v. Sobeys Inc. (2016), The Lawyers Daily, October 2017.
  • Author, "ORPP Update – the Ontario Retirement Pension Plan – An Employer's Options", October 2015.
  • Co-author, "An Employer's Perspective: Legal Risks of Defined Contribution Pension Plans", Benefits and Pensions Monitor, October 2015.
  • Author, "ORPP Update: Employers and The Ontario Retirement Pension Plan," September 2015
  • Co-author, "The Evolution of Pension and Benefits Law", Benefits and Pensions Monitor, June 2015.
  • Author, "Changes to the Federal Pension Standards Regulation – Coming into Force in Two Stages:  April 1, 2015 and July 1, 2016", BLG Pension Alert, March 2015.
  • Author, "Dear Pensioner, Are You Still Alive?  Ensuring the Pensioner Receives the Pension", Pension Planning, Federated Press, 2014.
  • Co-author, "The Single-Option Defined Contribution Pension Plans", Benefits and Pensions Monitor, February 2014.

Rankings & Recognitions

  • Recognized in the 2020 edition (and since 2016) of Chambers Canada – Canada's Leading Lawyers for Business (Pensions and Benefits).
  • Recognized in the 2019 edition (and since 2017) of The Canadian Legal Lexpert® Directory (Pensions and Employee Benefits).
  • Martindale-Hubbell® DistinguishedSM Peer Review Rating.
  • Received Canadian Pension and Benefits Institute – Ontario Regional Volunteer Appreciation Award, 2009.