2017: Leading Firms

We list over 300 law firms in WWL: Canada 2017, demonstrating the breadth of expertise and variety of choice available to clients seeking representation in the country. However over a third of all listings in this edition are earned by lawyers from just seven standout firms, all of which are profiled below. 

First established in 1856 and now part of the “Seven Sisters” group of leading Canadian law firms, BLAKE CASSELS & GRAYDON comes out as the leading firm in our research with 152 nominations. It has developed an extensive footprint across Canada with offices in Ottawa, Vancouver, Montreal, Calgary and Toronto, as demonstrated by its performance in our research this year, and has a robust international presence with further offices in in the US, UK, Middle East and China.

The firm particularly excels in our M&A chapter with 16 lawyers listed. Its transactional capabilities include advising domestic and international companies, financial institutions and funds, with a particular expertise in cross-border matters. It also performs well in our capital markets, corporate tax and real estate chapters. Its REIT practice is recognised as one of the most accomplished in Canada.

Leading figures include Jeffrey Lloyd who stands out for his superb M&A and capital markets practice. Other impressive names include head of the firm’s tax group and a market authority in the field Jeffrey Trossman, and Chris Huband for his leading expertise in commercial real estate transactions.

Boasting 88 listings in 35 practice areas across five offices, BORDEN LADNER GERVAIS reinforces its credentials as one of the leading full-service firms in Canada. Established in 2000 by the merger of five firms, it is the largest in Canada and can call upon 750 lawyers across its offices in Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa, Vancouver and Calgary. The firm’s geographical reach and breadth of expertise – which spans almost every practice area covered in this year’s research and includes lawyers, IP agents and other experts – makes it one of the most prominent outfits operating in the market today.

While one of its hallmarks is proficiency across the full spectrum of business law matters, there are several practice areas in which the firm is pre-eminent; it achieves the most listings this year of any firm in the insurance and reinsurance, private funds, shipping and maritime, and construction chapters. With double the nominees of the closest firm, the construction offering is an area of particular strength.

The firm is home to some of Canada’s leading legal minds, including Ira Nishisato, who is recognised for his expertise in a remarkable four practice areas. Aviation litigation guru Bruce Garrow, private client market authority Pamela Cross, and construction experts R Bruce Reynolds and Sharon Vogel are all identified as leaders in their respective fields.

International business and litigation firm FASKEN MARTINEAU DUMOULIN is a heavyweight player in the Canadian market. With over 700 lawyers and offices spanning the country, the firm has the expertise and resources to provide top-quality counsel to clients at every stage of business. In this year’s research, the full-service firm achieves 91 listings across a phenomenal 27 practice areas illustrating the full extent of its offering.

With 11 lawyers listed, Fasken Martineau DuMoulin boasts unparalleled strength in the mining market. The firm offers top-quality regulatory and transactional advice throughout every stage of a mining project, from financing through to construction and project development. Eminent practitioners in the group include Michael Bourassa and John Turner, both exceptionally well regarded in the space.

The firm ranks among the very elite for transactional and regulatory banking matters and sees eight lawyers listed in this edition.  It also boasts considerable strength in labour and employment matters and achieves eight listings from this practice group, making it one of the leading teams in Canada.

The Toronto office is home to Brian Burkett, an esteemed expert in employment law, while John Beardwood is among the leading lawyers in the TMT group, which stands strong at the top-end of the market. Other highly regarded practitioners at the firm include Brian Kelsall for his work in project finance, Robert Paré for his superb expertise in M&A transactions, Elena Hoffstein for her outstanding private client practice and Peter Pliszka, a leading product liability defence lawyer. 

Employing more than 1,400 legal professionals in offices spread across five continents, GOWLING WLG is a leading multinational firm with a truly global presence. Since the merger of Canada-based Gowlings and UK-based Wragge Lawrence Graham & Co in 2016, the firm has extended its reach to offer clients a widespread network in a range of key sectors. The firm is widely recognised as one of the key players in the financial services, life sciences, natural resources, patents and trademarks sectors. The magnitude of its prowess is reflected in our research, as it achieves an impressive 81 nominations across 24 chapters in this year’s guide.

The firm is particularly prominent in the intellectual property market and is home to some of Canada’s best-known and visible practitioners.  The firm boasts the highest number of individuals listed in the patent agents’ chapter compared to other firms and is among the highest ranking for trademarks and patents.

Prominent practitioners in our research include Anthony Creber who tops our listings for patents, and Robert MacDonald and Kelly Gill who are among the very elite of Canadian practitioners in the field of trademarks. Other notable practitioners include Graham Ragan who is recommended for his extensive expertise in the government contracts arena, and Mischa Armin who ranks highly in our list of e-discovery experts.

Full-service national business law firm MCCARTHY TÉTRAULT demonstrates its leading presence in the Canadian market in our research this year. It achieves 100 listings across 28 practice areas, showcasing the tremendous depth and breadth of expertise on offer at the firm. Corporate and finance are areas in which practitioners particularly excel, as they achieve strong listings across our M&A, banking and capital markets chapters. The firm also performs well across a variety of sectors from energy and mining through to TMT. The energy team is well versed in handling the gamut of related industries including oil and gas, LNG and power, while the firm’s first-rate TMT capabilities span data privacy and management, cybersecurity, technology and communications.

Outstanding individuals at the firm include Roger Taplin, who is highlighted for his exceptional mining practice and Charles Morgan and Barry Sookman who draw high praise from sources for their market-leading expertise in the TMT space. Practice co-head Paul Cassidy is a prominent environment attorney while David Porter stands out as the foremost investigations practitioner in the country.

Leading international law firm NORTON ROSE FULBRIGHT retains a strong foothold as one of the leading players in the domestic market, achieving 83 listings across an impressive 30 practice areas. With more than 4,000 staff in offices based in 33 countries the firm boasts a truly global reach and is internationally well regarded for its extensive industry expertise.

In line with its traditional industry focus, the firm performs particularly well in the energy sector being ranked among the top five firms with the highest number of practitioners listed. The firm also receives multiple nominations across a range of chapters including life sciences, labour and employment, mining and government contracts, highlighting the true strength and scope of expertise on offer.

Key players at the firm include William Armstrong QC and Timothy Mitchell who draw praise for their longstanding labour and employment practices. A number of leading lawyers at the firm achieve listings in multiple chapters this year, including Terence Dobbin for his top-tier capital markets and M&A work, and Judith Robinson for her outstanding expertise in the life sciences and patents arena.

Market-leading corporate law firm STIKEMAN ELLIOTT is a highly regarded player in the Canadian market with a longstanding pedigree in the corporate sphere. Founded in Toronto in 1952, the “Seven Sisters” firm now boasts over 450 lawyers across five Canadian offices and three international offices highlighting the firm’s global footprint and clientele.

The breadth of expertise on offer is highlighted by the fact that it draws recommendations across 24 chapters in this year’s guide, with its members performing particularly well in the areas of M&A, energy and capital markets.

The firm’s lawyers are regularly engaged on some of the largest, cross-border transactions in the Canadian market. Recently, for example, members of the firm’s capital markets practice acted for Canada Goose Holdings Inc. in its IPO on both the Toronto and New York Stock Exchanges. Corporate partners also advised DH corporation during its acquisition by Vista Equity Partners in a multibillion-dollar deal.

Key practitioners at the firm include firm chair and corporate finance specialist William Braithwaite, who is listed across three chapters in this edition. James Harbell also achieves three nominations for his exceptional work in the areas of government contracts, energy and environment law, while Richard Pound QC stands out as one of the leading sports and entertainment lawyers in the country.


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Nominees have been selected based upon comprehensive, independent survey work with both general counsel and private practice lawyers worldwide. Only specialists who have met independent international research criteria are listed.

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