Evan Howard – CAAT Pension Plan

Through Ontario … and beyond!

Sitting at his desk in Toronto, Evan Howard can honestly say success breeds success.

When Howard began working at CAAT Pension Plan in 2012 as its first in-house lawyer, he remembers it being poised for growth, with 60 employees and 30 participating employers. Assets under management were just under $6 billion. Fast-forward eight years and now the Canadian nonprofit has more than $13 billion in assets, 76 participating employers, 250 employees and more than 63,500 members.

Evan Howard – CAAT Pension Plan

Evan Howard | Chief Legal and Regulatory Affairs Officer

But it’s not just the scope of the operation that has grown. Along with it, CAAT has developed a sophisticated and specialized internal network of administrative specialists. As for Howard, his initial position as the only in-house attorney has evolved, and he now enjoys a more in-depth role directing a newly redesigned legal and regulatory affairs department.

“Being involved with such cutting-edge work—coupled with a team that can grow the organization—really excites me,” he says. “It’s an experience that you don’t find in private practice.”

Stronger together

In 1967, CAAT was developed as a nonprofit trust for Ontario’s state-funded community college system. More recently, it was opened to other nonprofits and businesses, including charities, media companies and industrial organizations.

“Things really started to snowball, in a good way,” says Howard. “[We were] looking to find a way to provide a valuable, defined benefit pension employees want and with the fixed cost employers want.”

That accelerated CAAT’s growth—resulting in participating employers and members across Canada. By the start of 2020, CAAT had members in every Canadian province with the exception of Prince Edward Island, Canada’s smallest province, where none of its participating employers have employees.

Evan Howard – CAAT Pension Plan

Operating in a highly regulated financial space, the complexity of the work was compounded because each provincial government has its own regulations, Howard says.

In addition to expanding his policy and public affairs teams, the legal team has been expanded, also, with pension law attorneys. To date, he’s added two, as well as a law clerk just out of law school, and he thinks it might eventually make sense to hiring investment-focused legal experts, as well.

“It’s really been a marked change, where we’ve needed people to become more specialized in what they do. It offers us greater depth,” he says.

Howard explains it’s also crucial to grow the team to ensure compliance with policies and regulations in new jurisdictions served by the organization. And then, of course, to assist the Plan’s communication and client services teams as they communicate these changes with plan members.

“As we’ve expanded, we’ve had to take into account that each province in Canada may have slightly different rules that regulate pensions, and we had to make adjustments to the plan’s design to reflect that,” he says.

An additional task has been establishing protocols to transfer existing pensions to the new program, which requires regulatory approval for each transfer.

“We’re talking hundreds of millions of dollars,” Howard says. “It’s an in-depth regulatory process involving reviews from our legal, communications, policy, actuarial and public affairs teams in a coordinated effort.”

Innovating pension policy

Surprisingly, Howard recently managed all these areas, but with the Plan’s growth, his role is now focused on leading the legal and regulatory affairs group at CAAT.

Looking back, he says he was certainly up for the task, equipped with a degree in economics and history from the University of Toronto in 1991 and a law degree from the University of Western Ontario in 1994.

Evan Howard – CAAT Pension Plan

His education segued into a legal career that began in Toronto and included a stint in London as an associate at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer from 1998 to 2000. His focus there was pensions, benefits and M&A. After returning to Canada, he made partner at two firms in Toronto: Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt in 2004 before transitioning to Norton Rose Fulbright in 2010.

“I’ve always practiced law in the pension area, and a lot of work I did in private practice focused on those issues, as well as buy-sell transactions; work in the insolvency space; bankruptcy; and legislative changes to support pension issues on company restructuring,” Howard says. “Those experiences are the ones I draw on the most.”

Over time, Howard observed that much of the transactional work was being led from the U.S. and London, resulting in fewer opportunities to play a central role on any related pension issues. When the position opened at CAAT, he saw an opportunity to get in on the ground floor of an innovative and growing organization.

“CAAT needed to be solution-oriented,” Howard says. “In my practice I had been providing pension solutions, working with government on implementing such solutions and advising generally in the transactional space, handling pension issues on multi-million-dollar mergers and acquisitions. I had experience to draw on.”

Evan Howard – CAAT Pension Plan

Since arriving, he says the work has been nonstop.

“Having the experience of running other areas within CAAT has been great, but I’m really enjoying digging deeper into legal and regulatory affairs work,” Howard says.

His engagement with people is also meaningful, particularly, building a team with diversified skills—from new law school graduates to seasoned specialists.

“To manage a team like this has been great,” Howard says. “Increasingly in private practice, one would be reviewing documents and then sending off PDFs and not having the same opportunities to engage with others to innovate and find solutions. Now I’m privileged to lead a team that works together to chart the best course forward. To work in that type of environment with the team members I’ve got energizes me.”

Published on: October 30, 2020



Showcase your feature on your website with a custom “As Featured in Vanguard” badge that links directly to your article!

Copy and paste this script into your page coding (ideally right before the closing tag) where you want to display our review banner.


As promised in advance, my feature in Vanguard has increased my visibility within the profession and prompted more than a few people I have not communicated with recently to reconnect. One of the Italian law firms I have used in the past is now in the process of interviewing me for an article on their website and tweeting out the feature story. Activity and the number of people connecting with me on LinkedIn has soared, which is great. The Vanguard writers and editorial staff were great to work with—highly professional and made the effort to make the experience both fun and rewarding (they were also respectful of the time pressures and demands all lawyers face). I was very pleased with the experience and the final outcome. Needless to say, I have been very pleased. All in all working with Vanguard has been a very positive experience which generated good publicity for both Shawcor and myself. My sincere thanks.
– Tim Hutzul, General Counsel, ShawCor Ltd.
I was honored to be the subject of an article. I enjoy reading Vanguard articles and seeing how other attorneys got to their positions and see their jobs. It's also interesting to see how different law firms partner with the subjects of the articles.
– Henry Marquard, in-house counsel, Stanley Consultants Inc.
The piece highlighting my company, Bob Baker Enterprises, Inc., came out fabulous. Our company is in the new and used car sales and service industry. Everyone was great to work with and extremely professional. They produced a high-quality product and have provided expert assistance and guidance post-production of the article.
– Wade Poulson, General Counsel, Bob Baker Enterprises Inc.
It was a great honor to be featured in Vanguard Law. Working with every member of the team, from the initial interview with Erin Clark, through production with Victor Martins, writing the article with Taryn Plumb and creating the final content with Dave Gushee, was a true pleasure. Everyone was very professional, enthusiastic and supportive, and their creative approach and positive attitude clearly came through in the final product.
– Kevin C. Rakowski, Senior Vice President, Deputy General Counsel, Compliance with Radian Group Inc.


Spring III 2024



  • * We’ll never share your email or info with anyone.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.