Traditionally, the Canadian market has been the preserve of large national full-service firms that operate across the country's leading cities and boast particularly strong energy, life sciences, TMT and corporate offerings, which draw on the mainstays of Canada’s economy: oil and the knowledge-based industries. Competition among these firms has been fierce yet essentially stable. However, the past few years has seen a host of international firms looking to enter, and subsequently strengthen, their position in the Canadian market as they look to service the cross-border needs of Canadian clients and provide an alternative to the status quo.
Canada’s legal marketplace is currently undergoing noticeable change as firms contend with increasing globalisation, as well as new entries into the market and cost-savvy clients. DLA Piper has entrenched its position founded on the 2015 merger with Davis, recently announcing the takeover of Toronto-based IP boutique Dimock Stratton; moreover, February 2016 saw the merger of Canadian independent full-service firm Gowling Lafleur Henderson with UK-based Wragge Lawrence Graham finally come to fruition, forming Gowling WLG – a new international firm with over 1,400 lawyers across 10 jurisdictions. The merger signalled the first Canadian co-led international venture and demonstrates that large national firms are looking abroad to enhance the comprehensive, cross-border service that they can offer to clients. It also serves to highlight Canada’s appeal to international firms looking to take advantage of Canadian corporates. Additionally, lawyers are increasingly aware of the enhanced competition stemming from professional service providers, such as accountancy firms – which have been beefing up certain legal departments and expanding their advisory capabilities to encroach on services that were traditionally the preserve of law firms. A number of our respondents we spoke to in our corporate tax research were certainly feeling the squeeze.
Canadian lawyers across the board reported increasing competition for scarcer and more complex cases. The development of a sophisticated crop of in-house counsel has resulted in fewer cases being farmed out to lawyers, particularly in the IP and life sciences fields. While according to some practitioners this has increased the amount of interesting, high-stakes work that they are handling, others have commented that the potential for less work will result in increased competition – which smaller and more agile firms with more competitive pricing structures will find advantageous. This, coupled with new entries in the market, is contributing to a fiercely competitive atmosphere.
The Albertan oil sands loom large; the recent downturn in oil and gas prices has hit the Canadian economy hard and reverberated through the entire legal market. In 2015, the falling price of oil pushed Canada into recession and developments in 2016 have done nothing to soften the blow. The Fort McMurray wildfires reportedly cost the Canadian government $6.9 billion and oil producers a reported 30 million barrels, causing the economy to shrink by a reported 0.6 per cent in May. As recently as June, Canada’s trade deficit hit a record $3.6 billion with non-energy exports falling for a fifth consecutive month, down 3.5 per cent on the year before. Despite poor growth, underperforming exports and rising unemployment figures, the Bank of Canada remains optimistic for the remainder of the year, hoping that the resumption of oil production and reconstruction, coupled with a strengthening US economy, will encourage the market to pick up and finish the year strongly.
That said, practitioners reported that the deep lull in the energy, natural resources and mining sectors is being offset by work in other practice areas. This balancing effect – mainly resting on transactional consolidation, restructuring and insolvency work – means that there has been no let-up in the amount of work occupying billable hours. Respondents were also particularly enthusiastic regarding renewables, with practitioners reporting healthy interest and investment in a number of renewable energy projects across Canada. An ambitiously liberal public spending policy has ensured that a stream of big-ticket infrastructure projects are keeping practices busy, particularly at the top end of the legal market.
Meanwhile, IP and international trade and customs practices are becoming ever more important as the Canadian government looks to negotiate and solidify several significant trade agreements in the hope of stimulating the faltering economy. July 2016 saw the European Commission adopt the signature, conclusion and provisional application of the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) with hopes of its full installation in 2018; the government is also committed to following through on its promises to conclude the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) to bolster ties to a bloc of countries accounting for 40 per cent of world trade. Despite the uncertainty surrounding the conclusions of these agreements, corporations with a vested interest in international trade were actively seeking legal advice to ascertain how to best structure their operations, and the potential for disputes is definitely an avenue of interest to lawyers. Additionally, practitioners in the IP space reported that the CETA proposals were forming the bulk of their advisory work with Canadian corporations rushing to be compliant with EU regulation in time for the ratification and implementation of CETA. Ultimately, clients and lawyers alike are monitoring the situation closely to ensure that they can take full advantage of the vast opportunities that a fresh deal brings to the table.
In the following pages, we identify the leading Canadian firms and practitioners across 37 practice area chapters, including expanded research on leading expert witnesses, competition economists and e-discovery practitioners. In total, there are over 1,400 listings in this edition, a true testament to the vitality of the Canadian market.
We recognise 42 practitioners in this area this year, comprising leading arbitration counsel as well as the most highly regarded arbitrators in the market.
We list 12 specialist expert witnesses in this area who are well known for their experience and expertise in an arbitration setting.
This year’s chapter identifies seven experts in the field of asset recovery. Their expertise includes assisting in disclosure, freezing and seizure orders, and recovery claims, in both civil and criminal cases.
Seven individuals have been identified in this year’s chapter for the forensic accounting and digital forensics expertise that they provide in cases relating to the recovery or tracing of assets.
We recognise 26 individuals for their impressive work in the sector, including financial, regulatory and contentious lawyers, who handle a range of matters from aircraft purchase, leasing and financing, airport charges, alliances and competition law and issues arising from major disasters.
The following 52 individuals rank as the top counsel for financial institutions in either regulatory or transactional matters.
Seventeen lawyers are recommended in this chapter for their stellar practices defending corporates and individuals in white-collar criminal matters.
In this chapter, 76 individuals are recognised for their significant expertise representing and advising issuers, underwriters, investment banks, funds, REITs and other market participants on all aspects of capital markets transactions domestically and internationally.
This year’s edition includes 43 individuals who are experts in competition. This practice area covers complex civil and criminal litigation involving allegations of breaches of competition law, including disputes relating to mergers and acquisitions. It also includes transactional advice and assistance on regulatory and compliance issues.
We recognise 13 individuals this year who provide clients with sophisticated economic advice including market analysis, assessing the impact of transactions and, where appropriate, estimating damages.
In this chapter, we highlight the country’s leading construction practitioners. We have selected 41 specialists with proven expertise in representing a range of clients, including owners, contractors and subcontractors in both contentious and non-contentious work.
In this chapter, we recognise six leading quantum and delay experts in the construction industry. The following experts are typically instructed to supply written and oral testimonies as part of valuation, lost profits and delay analyses in construction disputes.
A total of 32 individuals are highlighted in this chapter. Each has a proven track record in providing corporate governance advice to boards of directors of listed companies and substantial privately held entities with respect to the most difficult and sensitive corporate disclosure, governance and policy issues, as well as dealing with new laws, regulations, stock exchange rules and governance principles. Below we highlight some of the most highly regarded practitioners.
In this section, we recognise 42 lawyers whose practices focus on assisting corporations with the immigration and naturalisation of skilled workers.
In this chapter, 70 lawyers are selected for their market-leading corporate tax practices, including a broad range of advisory and controversy work
In this chapter, we recognise nine of the country’s corporate tax experts for their impressive consultancy, valuation and expert witness testimony.
Eighteen leading individuals are highlighted in this chapter for their impressive expertise assessing the risks and opportunities of a proposed transaction and offering advice on relevant conditions, warranties and indemnities that should be included in an agreement.
Sixteen individuals have been selected for their expertise in the e-discovery process. They are specialists in creating and using tools to discover, manage and analyse electronic data, as well as helping companies set up e-discovery strategies.
A total of 98 practitioners are highlighted in this chapter; they all have a proven track record of representing and advising major energy companies and financiers on matters related to the exploration, production, marketing and transportation of all types of energy including oil, gas, nuclear and renewables. In addition, practitioners often have global expertise of the industry’s regulatory framework and contractual agreements. Below we highlight some of the most highly regarded practitioners in the industry.
This chapter highlights 62 leading lawyers for their exceptional work in the sector. We identify lawyers who provide environment advice to clients in transactional, litigation and regulatory matters such as compliance, strategic planning, environmental due diligence, liability and deal structuring.
A total of 36 practitioners are recognised in this chapter, specialising in issues relating to franchising and the laws regulating this both in Canada and abroad. Below we highlight some of the most highly regarded practitioners in the industry.
The lawyers in this chapter provide first-rate counsel to public authorities and private sector clients in relation to the drafting and structuring of procurement bids and PPP contracts, as well as disputes arising from such arrangements. We select 42 leading practitioners.
A total of 48 practitioners are highlighted by our research in this chapter, who specialise in representing insurance underwriters, reinsurers, intermediaries and corporate insurers in contentious, contractual, regulatory and, in the case of carriers, general corporate matters. Below we highlight the most highly regarded practitioners in the industry.
The following 21 practitioners are considered the leading experts in advising companies and individuals on internal and regulatory investigations into illegal activity.
We have listed eight digital experts who have a proven track record in relation to e-discovery, computer forensics, data recovery and analysis in investigations on behalf of both law firms and corporations.
The following 14 individuals are considered the leading accountants for aiding clients in regulatory and internal investigations in relation to accounting fraud, financial mis-statement and inadequate disclosure and corruption.
A total of 67 lawyers are identified in this chapter, who have a proven track record in representing and advising management, and senior executives and partners, on all aspects of labour, employment and industrial relations law.
A total of 58 individuals are listed in this chapter, including product liability, patent, regulatory and transactional lawyers with a special or exclusive emphasis on representing pharmaceutical, biotechnology and medical device companies. Below we highlight some of the most highly regarded in the industry.
This year’s chapter identifies 57 practitioners. The following lawyers are experts that appear before all levels of the provisional courts, the Federal Court and the Supreme Court of Canada, representing clients in civil and commercial disputes.
In this chapter, 52 leading corporate lawyers across 14 firms are identified for their outstanding transactional work on behalf of publicly traded corporations and private equity groups.
A total of 29 individuals are recognised for their expertise acting as mediators in commercial mediations.
We highlight 69 leading individuals in this chapter for their impressive work in the field, including dirt law, mine financing, native title law, leasing and financing and general representation of mining companies.
Our 2016 edition lists 66 experts in patent matters who handle a range of filing, prosecution, litigation and portfolio management work for their clients.
In Canada’s large IP market we recognise 59 patent agents. The following individuals are disciplined in technical fields such as technology and science, and are also qualified before the Canadian Patent Office so as to be able to prepare, file and prosecute patent applications on behalf of clients.
In this year’s chapter we have identified 29 practitioners as experts in the provision of advice to high-net-worth individuals, families, trustees, family businesses and charities.
We highlight 23 leading lawyers are highlighted for their impressive work in the field. From the structuring and investment of private funds in alternative asset classes, to compliance and strategic regulatory issues, these lawyers are well equipped to assist their clients in their endeavours.
This year’s chapter identifies 31 practitioners with a proven track record in representing and advising manufacturers and sellers against claims for damages or injuries suffered because of defects in goods, including mass tort and class action litigation.
In this chapter, we identify 31 practitioners for their expertise advising sponsors and lenders in project finance and refinancing transactions. Given the centrality of the energy market in Canada, the vast majority of these lawyers will represent clients in the energy and natural resources sectors among others.
This year, 45 leading practitioners gain recognition for their impressive real estate work, providing advice to clients incorporating tenants, investors and developers on all aspects of buying, selling, letting, developing and managing real estate.
The following 63 individuals are selected for their expertise in advising creditors, debtors, acquirers, trustees and other parties-in-interest on insolvency procedures and corporate restructurings.
A total of 27 practitioners are highlighted in this chapter, specialising in matters which occur only at sea, or involve the maritime industry or those using its services. These includes charterparties, contracts for carriage of goods and cargo claims to collisions, piracy and salvage cases, as well as complex financial arrangements in relation to the construction and purchase of vessels and also litigation relating to claims and liability arising from the movement of cargoes around the globe. Below we highlight some of the most highly regarded practitioners in the industry.
We recommend 22 sports and entertainment specialists the following pages. The featured lawyers will be expert in a range of areas, including labour, contract and intellectual property law, as well as merchandising and licensing work.
We identify 48 practitioners in this year’s chapter, which focuses on the telecommunications, media and technology sectors. The following individuals have a diverse range of focus, including regulatory matters, data protection and privacy, e-commerce, outsourcing and licensing deals.
The lawyers in this chapter provide top-class advice to clients in matters concerning trade and customs issues. These lawyers exhibit an exceptional awareness of international trade and customs law, acting in trade remedies and WTO litigation, as well as representing and advising clients on customs and tariff issues. We list 32 practitioners.
Thirteen practitioners have been identified in this year’s chapter for their expertise in registration licensing, copyright, competition and litigation issues relating to trademarks.
We highlight 43 leading individuals for their impressive work in the field. They boast a proven track record in representing and advising companies from a range of industries on trademark matters such as dilution cases, counterfeiting, false advertising, oppositions and cancellation proceedings, domain name administrative proceedings, due diligence and prosecution and maintenance of trademarks.
Blake Cassels & Graydon is an established player in the market, and is considered one of Canada’s most distinguished business law firms. The firm provides clients with top-tier legal support throughout its global network, with five offices across Canada as well as a presence in legal hubs such as London and New York. Its international footprint ensures that it is well placed to assist both domestic and international clients with their business needs in the country and around the world. The firm provides a full-service offering, but stands out particularly for its expertise in the energy sector, as well as its strong transactional and financial work.
BLG garners over 75 listings in our research, which exemplifies its status as one of Canada’s preeminent national full-service firms. Its lawyers are to be found in almost every chapter of this edition, with recognition in 35 practice areas in total. Indeed, the firm provides a one-stop shop for clients across all the main areas of business law, as well as covering all the major regional markets across Canada. This year’s research finds that the firm particularly excels in the construction, government contracts, investigations, trade and customs, and insurance and reinsurance fields.
Fasken Martineau DuMoulin is a leading international business law and litigation firm. It was founded 16 years ago through a merger of three regional Canadian law firms to become “one of Canada’s top players” in the market. In particular the firm excels across its mining, banking, TMT and private client practices which all garner multiple listings in the edition. With a global presence, Fasken Martineau has offices across Canada as well as London and Johannesburg. It boasts an impressive 74 listings across 26 different practice areas, and is home to some of the most notable practitioners in Canada.
Gowling Lafleur Henderson’s merger with UK-based Wragge Lawrence Graham to form Gowling WLG has afforded the firm new possibilities. With a presence on five continents, its Canadian arm can now offer clients a truly global network and has looked to extend its capabilities by focusing on sectors in which it has been historically strong. It is recognised as one of the leading law firms in the patents, trademarks, energy and natural resources and restructuring and insolvency sectors with a list of clients that include Eli Lily, Ultrafab and Toople PLC.
Gowling WLG is an international law firm created by the combination of Gowlings, a leading Canadian law firm, and Wragge Lawrence Graham & Co (WLG), a leading UK-based international law firm.
With more than 1,400 legal professionals in 18 cities across Canada, the UK, Continental Europe, the Middle East and Asia, Gowling WLG provides clients with top-tier legal advice at home and abroad in a range of areas – from complex cross-border transactions and intellectual property matters to high-stakes litigation and disputes.
Our clients have access to in-depth expertise and experience in key global sectors, including advanced manufacturing, energy, financial services, infrastructure, life sciences, natural resources, real estate and tech. We pair this specific industry knowledge with renowned service area expertise to meet each client’s unique needs.
We see the world through our clients’ eyes, and collaborate across countries, offices, service areas and sectors to help them succeed, no matter how challenging the circumstances. Above all, our culture is about people and teams, based on our belief in the power of relationships to deliver tangible business results.
McCarthy Tétrault justifiably continues to be regarded as one of Canada’s leading firms, with a reputation built on over 160 years of practice in the country. It has retained a strong domestic emphasis, with a London office its only international outpost. Around half of its lawyers are resident in the firm’s Toronto headquarters. It possesses comprehensive coverage of all major areas of law, as evidenced by its exceptional total of 95 listings in this year’s Who’s Who Legal: Canada edition.
Founded in 1952 as a tax boutique in Montreal, Stikeman Elliott has since gone from strength to strength; it is now among the leading full-service firms in Canada and one of the so-called “Seven Sisters”. The firm, at the forefront of globalisation, was the first Canadian firm to open offices in London and New York, and is the only firm to boast a presence in Australia. As such, it provides its clients with access to localised knowledge in many of the world’s key jurisdictions. The breadth of the firm’s expertise is evident in the firm’s listings across 23 chapters in this year’s edition, highlighting the depth in quality and the comprehensive service that the firm is able to offer clients. As attested by our research, the firm is particularly recommended in the areas of energy, M&A, capital markets and real estate.
It is not possible to buy entry into any Who's Who Legal publication
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.