The Canadian bar has continued to increase in strength and to diversify; and this is demonstrated in our research, with 964 individual lawyers from 199 different firms recognised across 32 chapters in this edition.
According to the World Bank, Canada had a gross domestic product of just under $1.8 trillion in 2011. Further, it has consistently been rated as having one of the safest and most efficient banking systems in the world and is tenth in the global competitiveness index, according to the World Economic Forum.
Since our previous edition, the Canadian economy has remained largely resilient to the global financial crisis, and its economy continues to grow. This is partly due to its close ties with the United States’ economic performance, which has been stronger over the first two quarters of this year and is predicted to be 2 per cent in the third quarter and 2.4 per cent in the fourth quarter according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. The US also offers Canada partial protection from the eurozone crisis and is its main trading partner, receiving roughly 70 per cent of Canadian exports and accounting for about 63 per cent of imports. According to the lawyers we spoke to, US companies are continuing to expand into Canada, most notably in the retail sector with Target, Marshalls and J Crew being only some of the “big names” that have announced a commitment to Canada this year. This has created significant work for lawyers in terms of mergers, acquisitions and joint ventures, and demonstrates the health of the Canadian economy. The importance of the Canada–US relationship is indicated in our research with half of our leading law firms having a US presence. Davies Ward Phillips & Vineberg LLP, Osler Hoskin & Harcourt LLP and Torys LLP all have New York offices, and Blake Cassels & Graydon has offices in New York and Chicago.
The country’s rich natural resources mean that international trade has continued to make up a large portion of its economy and has afforded it additional stability. Canada is almost unique among developed nations in being a net exporter of energy, with two Canadian energy companies, Suncor Energy and Husky Energy, featuring in the Fortune Global 500, and it has the third-largest oil reserves in the world, according to the United States Geological Survey. The energy industry not only makes up the majority of the country’s exports, but is also linked to many secondary and service industries meaning that while some sectors of the Canadian economy have suffered, fundamentally it is in good economic health. According to Joe Oliver, the minister of natural resources, there are 600 major resource projects under way or planned across Canada representing close to $650 billion in potential investment over the next 10 years. Our research confirms the significance of these sectors, with four more lawyers recognised in our mining chapter in comparison to our previous edition and a fairly constant number of oil and gas and trade and customs practitioners featured.
The real estate sector has remained stable, with low interest rates playing an important role in securing impressive amounts of unsecured debt and increased public offerings for real estate investment trusts and real estate operating companies balanced by a reduction in capital raisings. As one lawyer we spoke to said: “The real estate sector always goes through cycles, but overall it has remained steady in the past year and we expected it to be the same story for the year ahead.” Certainly the legal marketplace for this sector has been solid with 36 individuals selected in this edition, the same number as our 2011 edition.
The Canadian banking system is one of the most robust and well-capitalised in the world, exceeding the Bank for International Settlements’ norms by significant margins. Three of its banks, the Royal Bank of Canada, the Toronto-Dominion Bank and the Bank of Nova Scotia, are recognised in Fortune Global 500, as is the financial services company Manulife Financial. The country’s relatively good banking management and strong regulatory system helped protect it from the worst of the crisis, although some fallout was felt. However, although the banking climate is more subdued compared with pre-2008, Canada is in a much better position than most financial centres. While banks in New York and London continue to cut jobs, Canadian banks are hiring, with Canada’s eight publicly traded lenders hiring 8,512 full-time employees from May to July this year, according to Bloomberg. This demonstrates their confidence in the industry for the near future. Lawyers in this field have remained busy this year and our research has shown a gradual increase in the number of banking lawyers featured in this publication over the past three years, with 30 listed in 2010 rising to 31 in 2011 and increasing in an impressive 34 in this edition. The number of capital markets practitioners recognised in this edition has increased by a remarkable 14 listings in comparison to our previous edition, indicating that while there is some volatility, it is certainly a “vibrant market” that is “encouraging transactions”. In terms of M&A work, there has been a definite increase in purchases in foreign markets by pension funds and hedge funds, and the number of middle value deals has risen; although the overall size and volume of transactions is down and those lawyers we spoke to described the market as “slow”. This is evidenced in our research, with slightly fewer individuals featured in this chapter compared with our 2011 edition.
This, the third edition of Who’s Who Legal: Canada, lists a greater number of highly nominated lawyers in more practice areas than either of its predecessors. The inclusion of a standalone chapter devoted to commercial mediation for the first time in this book attests to the increasing prominence of this area of law in Canada over the past year. But, even without these additional listings, the steady year-on-year expansion in the number of recognised professional in the directory (expressed in the chart below) indicates that there are more highly sophisticated business lawyers in the country than ever before.
The international recognition of five Canadian-founded law firms in the Who’s Who Legal 100, which identifies the world’s top 100 law firms, is further testament to the high level of expertise and international reputation of these firms. Furthermore, Norton Rose Canada was recognised along with the Norton Rose Group as our mining firm of the year in our 2012 practice area awards and in the Who’s Who Legal 100. Two Canadian lawyers received international awards from Who’s Who Legal this year: Michael Bourassa for mining and Daniel Bereskin for trademarks.
Canadian lawyers have excelled at adapting and diversifying in response to the post-crisis global landscape. The country’s leading firms are predominantly Canadian-founded firms, with the exception of Norton Rose Canada, demonstrating that they are more than able to meet the challenges of this period of international insecurity and market volatility.
Below, we identify the leading law firms in the country that have achieved the highest number of listings across the 32 different practice area chapters that follow.
As commercial arbitration continues to grow in popularity in many sectors, both domestically and internationally, the need for excellent arbitrators and counsel is more important than ever. This year we feature 25 of Canada’s leading practitioners in arbitration.
Last year our report into the Canadian aviation sector focused on the increased activity levels fuelled by regulatory changes and a small return in the M&A industry. This year lawyers remarked on the growing aviation capabilities of companies: corporate use of aircrafts and purchasing and leasing finance has been a hot topic over the past 12 months and is expected to continue. In areas where there are thriving natural resources, such as Calgary, aviation activity centres on operations and compliance for major airlines. In short, the work varies depending on the needs of regional clients, but overall more work is being done. We feature 18 lawyers in this chapter.
Canada has been in an enviable position throughout the global economic crisis, faring better than most developed countries and reporting 3.2 per cent growth in 2010. However in the past year, the economy has cooled and much of Canada’s future growth will rely on global factors. Lawyers reported a slowdown in financing as clients remained very cautious. We select 34 lawyers deemed to be “first rate” by their peers and clients
In Canada, as in the rest of the world, authorities continue to be strict when it comes to enforcement and the prosecution of white-collar crimes and corporate fraud has continued to be a major trend. As a result business crime defence lawyers are in constant demand and this is reflected in our research with 19 lawyers listed this year, an increase of six on last year.
The Canadian capital markets have been adversely affected by the global financial crisis and the past year has seen uncertainty and a degree of volatility. Despite this outlook, Canada remains in a relatively strong fiscal situation which could draw in strategic investors in the coming year. In this chapter we identify 69 superb lawyers.
Although the popularity of alternative forms of dispute resolution continues to rise, the litigation market in Canada remains active and profitable. This year we feature 48 superb practitioners, an increase of nearly 10 per cent on last year.
Canada is a vibrant market for mediation and this method of dispute resolution is a popular choice for clients. Earlier this year the federal government announced it would allow financial institutions to hire private mediators to settle disputes with clients signifying the continued support for mediation in Canada. For the first time in this publication we list 21 of the most highly recommended mediators across the country.
This year our research lists 39 leading competition lawyers in Toronto, Quebec and Alberta, specialising in cartels, merger control, regulation, litigation and compliance work.
This year our research lists 39 leading competition lawyers in Toronto, Quebec and Alberta, specialising in cartels, merger control, regulation, litigation and compliance work.
Construction is a key driver of the Canadian economy and, in 2012, sector spending is expected to reach C$281.7 billion according to Statistics Canada’s Private and Public Investment survey: an 8 per cent increase on 2011. Of this figure, government spending is estimated at C$65.1 billion. New construction is focused on public works and infrastructure, in particular to support the mining industry and the energy sector. In this sector we identify 34 leading individuals.
Lawyers specialising in this area have had a busy year. There have been reports of increased shareholder activism and boards having issues with proxy advisory firms as well as continued focus by authorities on governance issues. This increased activity is reflected in our research with 29 individuals recognised for their work in this chapter.
With international relocation becoming an increasingly popular way for companies to explore the opportunities offered by global expansion, regulations in the area of corporate immigration are changing at a dizzying pace. Recent legislation concerned with encouraging innovation and development while maintaining economic safeguards has increased the regulatory requirements for businesses to enter the Canadian market, meaning that effective counsel from experienced lawyers is key. This year, we feature 37 of the best immigration lawyers in Canada, from a range of 28 firms.
We identify 50 leading individuals in Canada who stand out for the high quality of their corporate tax work.
With its high levels of regulation, Canada is truly a world leader in environmental law. This is clearly demonstrated by the quality of practitioners, with 56 individuals selected for inclusion in this edition.
The Canadian franchise market comprises a mix of general commercial lawyers, some litigators, some specialists who tend to represent franchisors, and a minority who represent both franchisors and franchisees. Lawyers reported that the market has seen significant developments in the past 10 years with the enactment of provincial legislation, culminating this year with Manitoba, bringing the total number of franchise acts operating in Canada to five. This has inevitably created more advisory and compliance work for lawyers, and is expected to generate litigation in the near future. Our research this year features 29 lawyers, up from 22 last year.
Nortel, which filed for bankruptcy in 2009, remains the largest insolvency case in Canada. With three separate proceedings being brought in the US, Canada and Europe, the case is one of the most complex of its kind. Aside from this case, the relatively solid market conditions in Canada have resulted in few formal insolvencies and many more restructurings. The question remains of how much longer the banks are willing to cooperate with debtors and when they will start to pull the plug. We feature 59 nominees in this sector.
The complex insurance market in Canada is based on long-term attempts to ensure that financial institutions are properly protected by regulating the capitalisation of insurers and reinsurers. The government has also recently introduced legislation on insuring mortgages to increase stability in the housing market, meaning insurance providers must keep abreast of changing policies. This year, we feature a total of 36 lawyers ranked as exceptional in the area of insurance.
Our research finds 26 lawyers whose strength and depth of expertise places them among the leading lawyers in Canada for internet, e-commerce and data protection work
As pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies continue their rapid expansion in Canada, it is increasingly important for life sciences practitioners to extend their in-depth knowledge of the industry and maintain world-class expertise in IP litigation, regulation and product liability. Our research uncovered 35 market leaders in this area.
As we reported in last year’s edition, the activity level tends to remain high in this sector, but with fluctuations in the type of work lawyers see. This year, there has been an increasing amount of litigation work spawned from disputes in the public sector, trade union activism and a global decline in employment retention. Our research identifies 61 lawyers in the chapter.
Canadian corporate lawyers have reported a fairly busy year with the general consensus being that purchases in foreign markets have increased and the number of “middle” value deals is up. However most practitioners we spoke to feel that overall the level and value of deals is down on last year and that the market is slower. This is reflected in our research with 35 lawyers being selected for their active practices, three fewer than last year.
The Toronto Stock Exchange is home to 58 per cent of the world’s public mining companies and the industry is crucial for the Canadian economy and job market. In this chapter we identify 49 exceptional lawyers, an increase of four listings since our last publication.
According to our sources, the oil and gas market has been active this year, which has been keeping Canadian lawyers busy. The market has undergone consolidations and a number of companies are disposing of or purchasing assets cheaply, for capital raising purposes and to gain entry into new geographical regions – for example ExxonMobile and Rosneft’s strategic cooperation agreement. This seems to be representative of the type of work in the market right now and lawyers expect to see more in the coming 18 months. We list 30 lawyers in this field with a significant portion based in Calgary, the oil sands centre of the country.
The worldwide surge in patent litigation has not escaped Canada and lawyers are reported to be particularly busy in the pharmaceutical area. In this thriving practice sector we select 33 of the leading patent lawyers in the country.
Last year we reported that the private funds market was buoyant; however this year we have had reports of lower levels of activity as sponsors are finding it difficult to raise capital and people are keen to make more direct investment. Nevertheless our research shows that private funds lawyers have been busy with 14 professionals listed in this section; two more than with last year, indicating that this remains a robust area.
Product liability defence is a growing area in Canada, with more lawyers specialising in this field and more firms developing departments and teams dedicated to this work. This is reflected in our research with 22 lawyers featured in this chapter this year, an increase of five on our previous edition.
Last year was a boom year for Canadian projects, mainly fuelled by private-public partnerships in social infrastructure, transport, sport facilities for national games, hospitals and care facilities. This year, lawyers explain that the trend continues with a high number of big projects in the energy arena, which accounted for C$47.2 billion in new projects this year, and the transit sector, which accounted for C$25.5 billion. The growing marketplace is reflected in the number of lawyers we feature, which has increased from 15 in 2010 to 18 in 2011 and now stands at 20. Below, we highlight the leaders in the field.
Public procurement in Canada is the subject of increased regulation. Canada is in negotiations with the EU for a comprehensive economic and trade agreement and if these are successful it could liberalise provincial procurement markets as well as bringing the Canadian rules more in line with Europe and the US. On the disputes front, it has been noted that a large percentage of complaints are being rejected by the authorities and very few accepted for inquiry. Forty lawyers feature prominently in this chapter.
In the words of one lawyer “the real estate market has been up and down this year,” partly because of its ties to the US economy. However, as our research demonstrates, it has so far been largely insulated from the global financial crisis and is still a busy sector, with 24 lawyers receiving recognition.
As forecast by our sources last year, the communications sector has seen more consolidations between media broadcasters and technology agencies, and also in the legal market, resulting in fewer, specialist law firms. Lawyers are seeing more and more international work as business is being driven by technology and innovation from outside of the country. This year we highlight 17 lawyers for their expertise and experience.
There is an east/west coast divide in the shipping industry in Canada, according to our sources. In the east, trade has stagnated; while in the west, trade with Asia is picking up and legal work is following this trend. As the west coast develops LNG terminals and oil ports to ship to China, Japan and Korea, lawyers expect to see an uptick in legal work related to such projects. In this chapter we feature 28 of the finest shipping and maritime lawyers in Canada.
Negotiations towards a comprehensive economic and trade agreement with the EU have continued in Canada over the past year with hopes that a “speedy conclusion” will be reached soon. A steady stream of advisory and compliance work has flowed for trade and customs lawyers. Anti-dumping has also remained a key trend and there has been a rise in trade litigation. All this means that lawyers have been busy over the past year and the legal marketplace has remained stable with 27 lawyers featuring in this chapter.
Our research into Canada’s trademark law marketplace finds 36 lawyers who, by peer and client consensus, are the leading names in this vibrant and competitive sector.
About Davis LLP
As a national full-service law firm, Davis LLP provides a comprehensive range of legal services to clients around the world through offices across Canada and in Japan. Established in Vancouver in 1892, the firm has more than 250 lawyers working in integrated practice groups that focus on the highest levels of client service and specialisation. We add value to our clients’ businesses by helping them achieve their business objectives and resolve their issues quickly and effectively.
Bennett Jones LLP was founded 90 years ago in Calgary, Alberta and has expanded across the country with offices in Toronto, Edmonton and Ottawa. Since 2010 the firm has also developed an international presence to include offices in the Middle East and a representative office in Beijing. It has many eminent alumni and a superb client list including Canadian Utilities, NAL Energy, TransAlta and The Standard Life Assurance Company of Canada.
Blake Cassels & Graydon LLP is a Canadian-based international law firm that was founded in Toronto in 1856 by Dominick Edward Blake. It now has 10 offices in Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Calgary, Vancouver, New York, Chicago, London, Bahrain and Beijing and associated offices in Shanghai and Al-Khobar. The firm’s international capabilities are further extended by its charter membership in Lex Mundi, the world’s largest non-exclusive referral network of independent law firms with member firms in 160 jurisdictions. Blakes is also an advisory member of TechLaw Group, an international network of 18 law firms in more than 31 countries whose primary mission is to advance clients’ interests in all areas of technology-related business.
In 2000 the law firms of Howard Mackie of Calgary, McMaster Gervais of Montreal, Scott & Aylen of Ottawa, Borden & Elliot of Toronto and Ladner Downs of Vancouver merged to create Borden Ladner Gervais LLP. The firm has over 750 lawyers based in offices in Ottawa, Toronto, Montreal, Calgary, Vancouver and the Waterloo region. Notable alumni include a former prime minister of Canada, a former speaker of the Canadian House of Commons and a former premier of Ontario.
Davies Ward Phillips & Vineberg LLP has more than 240 lawyers with offices in Toronto, Montreal and New York. The firm is focused on business law and is frequently involved in large and complex commercial and financial matters on behalf of its clients both domestically and internationally. Its recent clients include Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, Kemira Chemicals Canada and Barrick Gold. Davies lawyers have once again excelled in this edition with 44 listings across 15 different chapters, demonstrating that the firm really lives up to its values of excellence, efficiency and client service.
Fasken Martineau DuMoulin LLP is an international law firm that traces its roots back to the mid 1800s. Today it has more than 650 lawyers and offices in Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal, Quebec City with an international presence in London, Paris and Johannesburg. The firm also has a presence in the Middle East in Riyadh in cooperation with Osool Law Firm. The firm is “extremely prominent in Canada and internationally” due to the commitment it has to its clients and the “first-class” professionals it employs. This is evidenced in our research with Fasken Martineau receiving a remarkable 44 listings across 20 different chapters.
Established in 1887 as a two-lawyer enterprise, Gowling Lafleur Henderson has grown to become one of Canada’s largest law firms, with a “solid reputation” for its “effective” advice across a full range of practice areas. Its world renowned intellectual property group and international offices in London, Beijing and Moscow contribute to the firm’s global reputation for excellence. In this year’s edition, the firm excels across 14 practice areas, with a total of 40 entries.
McCarthy Tetrault LLP is one of Canada’s leading commercial, financial and dispute resolution firms, with a history that reaches back to 1855. It has seen a number of personnel shifts in the past year, such as a new regional managing partner in British Colombia, a new regional manager of Alberta and a new national leader in the markets practice. It has enjoyed the publicity of large money cases, such as the ground-breaking $80 million fraud case against Frank Dunn of Nortel Networks, and the $1.15 billion note offering by Golden Credit Card Trust. The firm features 75 listings in our guide this year.
Norton Rose Canada prides itself on its international reach. The firm is a true “powerhouse” with nearly 700 lawyers across its five offices in Calgary, Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto and Quebec. The firm concentrates on six key industry sectors: financial institutions; energy; infrastructure, mining and commodities; transport; technology and innovation; pharmaceuticals and life sciences. Of these sectors, energy and mining is the firm’s strongest suit and it uses its international network to connect clients across the major resource-based economies in the world. Norton Rose Canada earns 52 listings across 21 practice areas.
From offices across Canada and in New York, Osler Hoskin & Harcourt LLP serves clients nationally and internationally in their business matters. The firm’s expertise, coupled with its excellence in client service, lends itself to a collaborative approach which is a winning strategy with clients. The firm has more than 400 lawyers experienced in a wide range of industries enabling it to tailor its work to align with client’s business objectives. This truly client-focused firm achieves 53 listings across 21 practice areas.
Stikeman Elliott is a “premier” Canadian law firm with a global reach. The firm has offices in Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa, Calgary and Vancouver, giving it a presence across Canada as well as offices in London, New York and Sydney to service its international clients and Canadian clients looking to do business abroad. The firm offers clients a “top-quality” service from some of the country’s leading legal minds across a full range of practice sectors. Our research identifies the firm in 21 practice sectors with a total of 63 listings.
Torys LLP was founded in 1941 in Toronto by John Stewart Donald Tory. In 2000, the firm merged with a New York corporate firm, resulting in the opening of an office there. In 2011 the firm further expanded its practice by opening an office in Calgary. Torys has a long history of developing and maintaining relationships with corporate clients and is “without a doubt one of the best and most established firms in Canada”. In this edition the firm has a remarkable 41 listings, an increase of seven on last year, across 20 different practice areas. The firm has especially strong practices in the areas of capital markets, life sciences, commercial litigation and corporate governance.
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.