Donald B. Johnston

Partner Admitted to the Ontario Bar: 1978

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  • Bio
  • Awards & Recognition
  • Professional Involvement
  • Representative Matters
  • Selected Speaking Engagements
  • Selected Publications
  • Insights
  • Education

Donald offers his clients more than legal advice – he enjoys getting to know them and uncovering their goals in order to offer the right advice. With decades of experience in high-stakes transactions, Don prides himself on his composed nature and ability to communicate effectively. His clients rely on his mature experience and expert negotiating skills, particularly when exploring new opportunities to offer their products and services or to grow their companies. 

Don is Co-Chair of the Technology Law Group, Co-Chair of the Privacy & Data Security Group, and a member of the Corporate/Commercial, Intellectual Property and Energy Groups.

Don has diverse experience in technology of all kinds: IP, mergers and acquisitions, procurement, privacy/data protection and health law, as well as technologies such as blockchain and autonomous vehicles. He regularly provides strategic advice to clients on licensing transactions, financing and development projects, negotiating and settling agreements, and distribution arrangements. 

Awards & Recognition

  • Recognized as a Global Elite Thought Leader in Who's Who Legal Global: Data -  Information Technology and as a National Leader in Who's Who Legal Canada: Data 
  • Named as a top practitioner in the Legal Media Group's Information Technology Expert Guide
  • Recognized in The Best Lawyers in Canada in Information Technology Law, Privacy & Data Security Law, Public Procurement Law and Technology Law
  • Named Best Lawyers' 2019 “Lawyer of the Year” in Technology Law (Toronto) and 2018 "Lawyer of the Year" in Information Technology Law (Toronto)
  • Recommended in The Legal 500 Canada for his expertise in the practice area of Technology, Media and Telecoms
  • Appears in The Canadian Legal Lexpert Directory as a leading practitioner in the areas of Computer & IT Law, Technology Transactions and Data Protection & Privacy
  • Listed in the Lexpert Special Edition: Technology
  • Listed in the Lexpert Special Edition: Health Sciences
  • Listed in the Lexpert Leading Canadian Lawyers in Global Mining Special Edition
  • Listed in the Lexpert Special Edition: Agribusiness and Cannabis
  • Named as an Acritas Star

Professional Involvement

Professional Activities

  • Honorary Consul of Belgium in Toronto
  • Association of Professional Geoscientists of Ontario, Member of Council, former member of Executive Committee and member of Discipline Committee
  • CORE Biofuel Inc., Business Advisor, Board of Directors
  • Skymeter Corporation, Former Chairman, Board of Directors


  • Canadian Technology Law Association (CAN-TECH), Past President (2006 - 2008), Past Treasurer and Co-Founder
  • Toronto Computer Lawyers' Group

Teaching Engagements

  • Don has engaged in a great deal of teaching, including as:
    • Part-time instructor in board level management, Rotman School of Business, University of Toronto.
    • Guest lecturer in intellectual property in the context of M&A transactions, Schulich School of Business, York University
    • Guest lecturer at Seneca College of Applied Arts and Technology, Financial Services Compliance Administration course
    • Lecturer at events for the Canadian Technology Law Association (CAN-TECH)
  • Don has lectured extensively on outsourcing, technology law, e-health law, procurement, privacy and data security.

Representative Matters

Represented Linamar Corporation (TSX: LNR) in connection with its acquisition of a substantial portion of Mobex Fourth and 1, LLC’s U.S.-based assets.

Represented a U.S. private equity firm that invests in technology, business services and industrial companies as Canadian counsel in its acquisition of all of the issued and outstanding shares of a Canadian-based cybersecurity firm and amendments to the fund’s term and asset-based credit arrangements.

Advised shareholders of TFI Aerospace Corporation, a manufacturer of specialty fasteners, on its sale to TriMas, a U.S.-based global manufacturer and provider of aerospace products.

Advised a specialty imported-foods retail and wholesale distribution company on all post-incorporation startup requirements. This included creating the shareholders’ agreement, distribution agreement, confidentiality agreements and trademark applications.

Advised several biotech companies on all legal work in relation to multi-million dollar VC funding which included creating the subscription agreements, development agreements, shareholders’ agreements, option agreements, employment agreements and clinical research organization services agreements.

Advised an agri-food company on all legal work in relation to startup, including creating the contract manufacturing agreement, materials transfer agreement, confidentiality agreement and trademarks.

Advised Paxgrid Corporation in relation to its business plan, financial proposal and general startup advice.

Advised a medical marijuana company on all startup work. This included creating the shareholders’ agreement, funding agreements, build-out agreement and merger agreement for sale of company.

Advised an “Internet of Things” technology company respecting startup, including board governance, option plan, confidentiality agreements, licences, funding agreements and acquisition agreement.

Advised Mr. X Inc., a digital studio specializing in feature film visual effects and animation, on all start-up work and enjoyed a continuing relationship to and including the eventual purchase by a public company. This included creating the shareholders’ agreement, production agreements, employment agreements, as well as IP assignment/protection agreements.

Advised an anti-money laundering consulting firm in relation to all startup work and its financing.

Advised Dingo Mobile Inc., a company that provides mobile applications that connect and activate businesses, brands, consumers and content experts, on all startup work. This included creating the shareholders’ agreement, ongoing advice and documentation as well as negotiation of sale to public corporation.

Represented an encrypted email service corporation in relation to creating service agreements, private cloud agreements and financing agreements.

Represented a medical devices company in relation to creating a development agreement, financing agreement and also providing general corporate advice.

Represented a mobile services company in relation to creating the development agreement, user agreement and confidentiality agreement.

Advised the Canadian branch of an established Indian corporation in relation to all incorporation and organization advice and documents which includes the confidentiality agreement and services agreement.

Advised a biofuels company by creating the shareholders’ agreement, licence agreements, financing agreement and confidentiality agreement.

Represented a social media advisory company by creating the shareholders’ agreement, licence agreements and confidentiality agreement.

Represented several U.S.-based Canadian startups in relation to creating distribution agreements, licence agreements, unanimous shareholders’ declarations and general advice on incorporation and registration/reorganization.

Advised an oil patch technology company on all services from startup to full operation including creating the shareholders’ agreement, organization, licences and financing documentation.

Represented OntarioMD Inc., which manages electronic health records, in relation to all startup requirements.

Advised a software company providing data analysis services to the investment industry in relation to the startup of an enterprise, creating the shareholders’ agreement, confidentiality agreements, employee share option agreements and licences.

Advised an internet-based weight loss advisory company on startup services and terms of use.

Advising OntarioMD Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary of Ontario Medical Association, in connection with electronic health records and other information technology tools that are of use to primary care renewal groups. Work includes advising the Board and senior management of the corporation.

Advised various biotechs on licensing and development transactions with big pharma companies.

Advised financiers and big pharma in biotech investments.

Advised Bruce Power LP in technology procurements and licensing matters pertaining to the acquisition of nuclear power generation facilities in Ontario.

Represented Integrated Grain Processors Co-operative Inc., an Ontario co-operative with more than 840 members, and its newly incorporated wholly-owned subsidiary IGPC Ethanol Inc., in the acquisition of technology required to design, develop, build and operate a 150 million litre ethanol production facility in Aylmer, Ontario.

Advised on the development of a large alternative energy plant that converts biomass into fuel using a non-oxygenated process.

Advised Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care (Ontario) with respect to the establishment and organization of Smart Systems for Health Agency. Work included the creation of the governance structure of the agency.

Advised Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care (Ontario) in two P3 (public-private partnership) transactions.

Assisted Ontario Family Health Network (OFHN), a development corporation owned by the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care. Assisted OFHN in the preparation of a request for proposals for a clinical management system.

Advised Ontario Medical Association in key procurements for the provision of clinical management systems and services which have recently been made available to Ontario Health Professionals.

Advised Ontario Power Authority in technology procurements and licensing matters pertaining to electricity production facilities.

Acted for private technology provider in large, multi-year contract for the supply of technology to the Ontario government.

Advised Smart Systems for Health Agency with respect to a number of different agreements, including the negotiation and settlement of its key data centre agreement that enables the agency’s entire managed private network, and the negotiation and settlement of a number of other key agreements.

Advised on procurements of cyclotron, MRI facilities, dialysis machines, services and products by various Ontario hospitals.

Advised on roll-out of GIS-based AM/FM system, Saskenergy.

Advised on GIS acquisition by Ministry of Natural Resources (Ontario).

Advised on network facilities matters, Atlantic Lottery Corporation.

Advised on the purchases and sales of aircraft and ships.

Selected Speaking Engagements

"Frameworks and Regulations to Secure IoT and AI Products," The Security by Design Series (Webinar), October 3, 2023.

"A Legal Tour of Security by Design for Non-Lawyers," Equilibrium Conference (Virtual Event), May 31, 2023.

"Discussion on the Metaverse: Part 3," Aird & Berlis LLP Technology Webinar, February 14, 2023.

"Discussion on the Metaverse: Part 2," Aird & Berlis LLP Technology Webinar, January 17, 2023. 

"Discussion on the Metaverse," Aird & Berlis LLP Technology Webinar, November 1, 2022. 

"Privacy and Data Breach Response: Managing the Process, Notifications and Mitigating Damages," Aird & Berlis LLP Privacy & Data Security Webinar, May 12, 2021.

"Privacy and Data Breach Prevention: Safeguarding Your Business," Aird & Berlis LLP Privacy & Data Security Webinar, April 14, 2021.

"The Future of Privacy Laws in Canada," Aird & Berlis LLP Technology Webinar, September 30, 2020.

“Privacy Law Panel,” Osgoode Hall Law School, October 21, 2019.

“Innovative Procurement: Better Value, Better Outcomes,” Canadian Healthcare Business Development Network 17th Annual Conference, September 26, 2019.

“Connected Vehicles in Smart Cities,” 10th Smart City & IOT Expo 2019, April 20, 2019.

"Avoiding a Privacy Breach: How to Train Employees and Contractors," Aird & Berlis LLP Privacy Webinar, October 2017.

"Canada's Ant-Spam Legislation (CASL) - Updates Since September 2015," Aird & Berlis LLP Privacy Webinar, September 2016.

Selected Publications

Author, " Legally Mandated Security: Insights on Artificial Intelligence," Aird & Berlis LLP, The Spotlight, March 14, 2024.

Author, "Legally Mandated Security: Advancing Cybersecurity and Data Privacy Standards," Aird & Berlis LLP, The Spotlight, January 26, 2024.

Author, "Legally Mandated Security: U.S. Agencies Lead, Europe Introduces Cyber Resilience Act," Aird & Berlis LLP, The Spotlight, January 18, 2024.

Author, "Legally Mandated Security: The Rise of Security by Design and Default," Aird & Berlis LLP, The Spotlight, January 9, 2024.

Author, "Is Your Medium Double-Double Spying on You?" Aird & Berlis LLP, The Spotlight, June 2, 2022.

Co-Author, "Canada Re-enters the International Ring with Bold New Privacy Law Including Significant Fines," Aird & Berlis LLP, The Spotlight, December 1, 2020.

Author, "Digital Ethics," Aird & Berlis LLP, The Spotlight, April 20, 2020.

Author, "Connected Vehicles," Aird & Berlis LLP, The Spotlight, January 27, 2020.

Author, "Federal Privacy Law - Is It About to Change: Part Deux?" Aird & Berlis LLP, The Spotlight, January 13, 2020.

Author, "Federal Privacy Law - Is It About to Change?" Aird & Berlis LLP, The Spotlight, December 19, 2019.

Co-Author, "Facebook's New Digital Currency," Aird & Berlis LLP, The Spotlight, July 9, 2019.

Co-Author, "OPC Proposed Change Equal to Legislative Change Without Legislative Process," Aird & Berlis LLP, The Spotlight, May 8, 2019.

Co-Author, "'Privacy is Not an All-or-Nothing Concept': The Supreme Court of Canada's decision in R. v. Jarvis," Aird & Berlis LLP, The Spotlight, Feburary 20, 2019.

Author, "What I Learned About Driving - and the Law - in Italy," Aird & Berlis LLP, January 8, 2019.


  • Certificate, Introduction to Digital Currencies, University of Nicosia, 2016
  • Ontario Bar Admission, 1978
  • JD, Osgoode Hall Law School, 1976
  • B.Comm., Memorial University of Newfoundland, 1973