Since June, the price of oil has dropped by over 50 per cent, and is set to become Canada’s biggest problem of 2015. The drop in oil prices has helped to trigger a recession throughout the country, as although the production of crude oil only represents three per cent of Canada’s GDP, the drop in oil prices has had a detrimental effect on the economy at large. On 15 July 2015, the central bank slashed its forecast for the Canadian economy predicting growth for the full year to be just 1.1 per cent. In response to the news, the Canadian dollar fell by more than a cent, to end at 77.40 cents (US), its lowest level since the depth of the recession in 2009.
The drop in oil prices means that the oil industry is expected to lose 37 per cent of its revenue in 2015. The oil crisis has had a knock-on effect for legal firms, who have seen a contraction in activity in their oil and gas practices. Calgary-based firms and offices are experiencing a decline in work related to the industry, with practice areas such as capital markets transactions, M&A and project financings all suffering. Despite this, firms are optimistic that soon they will see an increase in opportunistic transactions, as well as more restructuring work, as smaller oil companies are absorbed by larger and more financially stable rivals. Our research mirrors these expectations, with the insolvency and restructuring chapter achieving 58 listings and the energy sector boasting an impressive 61 nominations, an increase of three lawyers from last year.
Despite the oil crisis, there is still activity in Canada, although attention has shifted from the west to the central provinces of Ontario and Quebec, areas which concentrate on manufacturing services. As a result of this, Ontario is set to replace oil-rich Alberta as the fastest-growing province this year. The manufacturing industries of cars and aerospace are experiencing a boost in exports due to the depreciation of the Canadian dollar. Furthermore the technology sector is surpassing the energy sector in the initial public offering market as investors look for alternative companies in which to invest their capital. Recent successes in the Canadian market are also a driving force of further activity. Since going public last year, shares of software-maker Kinaxis have increased by 90 per cent.
The legal marketplace continues to evolve, and the past year has seen more international firms enter the market. DLA Piper has joined forces with Davis enabling the Canadian firm to access its global network of offices and clients. Last year’s demise of Heenan Blaikie is still very much on the mind of legal managing partners and sits as a reminder of the difficulties of running a profitable law firm in the current financial climate. Another of Canada’s law firms, Gowlings, will merge in January 2016 with UK based Wragge Lawrence Graham & Co after a year and a half of talks, to form Gowlings WLG. Globalisation is a key reason as to why law firms are opting to merge, in the hope that it will alleviate some of the difficulties that they are facing, such as costs and manpower. Furthermore, such partnerships allow firms like Davis to broaden their client offerings with their improved international reach, whilst continuing with the dedicated work undertaken with domestic clients.
This year we have added sections on the following practice areas: corporate tax expert witnesses, trademark attorneys, due diligence accountants, competition economists, patent agents, arbitration expert witnesses, investigations forensic accountants, investigations digital forensics experts, e-discovery practitioners, construction expert witnesses and asset recovery experts. The e-discovery chapter contains 20 listings, and serves to reflect the diverse multidisciplinary nature of the movement which began in Canada back in 2006. Still in the early stages of development, more and more firms are creating and building up teams specialised in the field to assist their litigation departments. The expansion of practice areas included in our research is testament to the ever-growing Canadian legal market. It is representative of the collaborative role of different practitioners within the legal system, and their presence in a broad range of sectors. This trend is particularly noteworthy in the field of patent law, where in our 2015 edition on the sector, we list 695 patent lawyers and 164 patent agents. In this edition on Canada, the ratio of lawyers to agents in this practice area differs greatly from the global overview, with 38 lawyers and 40 agents. Such statistics are indicative of a highly active and competitive patent legal market in Canada, which evidently requires a substantial amount of expert assistance.
In the following pages we will highlight the leading Canadian firms, with information on their practices and activities in this last year. Blake Cassels & Graydon once again emerges as the leading Canadian law firm in our research, with a total of 115 listings, a distinct improvement from last year. Overall, our research covers the work and performance of almost 1,500 Canadian lawyers across 46 practice areas.
This chapter features 28 leading practitioners.
There are four individuals featured in this subsection.
This is the second year in which we recognise the top asset recovery practitioners in Canada. These individuals have proved themselves in a cutting-edge, fast-paced and international practice area that has grown in relevance steadily over the past 15 years. The lawyers featured in this chapter have a strong grasp of multi-jurisdictional investigations and the legal tools to pursue fraudulent or corrupt actors. Their clients have commended their ability to assist them with recovery claims, disclosure, freezing and seizing orders in both criminal and civil actions.
For the first time, this edition will recognise excellence among asset recovery experts across Canada. The management of an asset recovery investigation can prove extremely complex and requires an in-depth understanding of forensic accounting, international financial systems and diplomatic channels. These four individuals have received nominations from peers clients who have been greatly impressed by their abilities and performance.
In this chapter, 26 individuals are recognised.
There are 44 practitioners featured in this chapter.
There are 20 “fantastic” lawyers featured for their business crime defence work.
In this chapter 74 individuals are recommended for their expertise.
Sixty practitioners have been identified by our research as the leaders in the field.
Five firms achieve multiple listings in this chapter, covering 20 leading e-discovery practitioners in Canada.
The commercial mediation chapter sees 26 practitioners named.
Thirty-eight competition practitioners are recommended this year.
There are nine competition economists featured in this subsection.
In this chapter 44 individuals are recommended for their expertise.
Three expert witnesses have been identified at Revay and Associates by our research in this subsection.
In this chapter 27 lawyers stand out for their vast experience.
There are 42 names featured in this chapter.
There are 63 “exceptional” corporate tax practitioners featured in this chapter.
Eleven corporate tax experts are recognised in this subsection.
In this subsection we list the 12 leading due diligence accountants in Canada.
There are 61 leading energy practitioners listed in this section.
Fifty four environment lawyers are featured in this chapter.
This year 38 lawyers are recognised in our franchise chapter.
In this burgeoning field of work in Canada, we single out 53 experts.
This year 60 lawyers are recognised in our insolvency and restructuring chapter.
There are 43 practitioners highlighted in this field.
Fourteen practitioners come “highly recommended” for their work in investigations law.
We single out 5 digital forensic experts in this subsection.
Six forensic accountants are highly recommended in our research.
There are 63 standout lawyers listed for their life sciences expertise.
There are 58 “impressive” individuals listed in this chapter.
In this chapter we single out 43 leading practitioners and firms in the field of mergers and acquisitions.
Mireille Fontaine, Zafar Jaffer and Frank Sur of Gowling Lafleur Henderson provide a useful guide to M&A transactions in Canada.
This chapter sees 67 names highlighted.
In the first year that we recommend patent agents, 39 are highlighted
In this chapter we see 37 patent practitioners recommended.
We feature 25 leading practitioners in this field.
This chapters sees 22 practitioners recommended for their private funds work.
A total of 28 lawyers stand out in this chapter for their expertise and experience handling complex product liability defence matters.
This chapter highlights 26 leading names.
There are 43 names featured in this section.
Twenty-three shipping and maritime experts garner inclusion in this chapter.
Featured in this chapter are 18 leading sports and entertainment lawyers.
Forty top names are selected for inclusion in this chapter.
In this chapter we recommend 31 leading practitioners.
Three trademark attorneys garner recognition in this chapter.
There are 38 practitioners recommended in this chapter.
Boasting international recognition and an “unrivalled reputation”, Bennett Jones continues to be a “standout” in the Canadian market. Consisting of 380 lawyers and business advisers in offices across Canada as well as in the US, Qatar, Bermuda and representatively in Beijing, the firm is home to a wide range of legal practices, and promotes a central governing ethos of “integrity and professional excellence”. The firm performs especially well in the areas of energy, mining, and trade and customs in this year’s research.
With an unparalleled reputation as being one of Canada’s top international business law firms, Blake Cassels & Graydon continues to be a versatile leader in the market, receiving 115 recommendations across 29 practice areas in this edition. The firm comprises approximately 600 lawyers across offices in Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Calgary, Vancouver, New York, London, Bahrain and Beijing, as well as Al-Khobar and Shanghai, and has won our Canada Law Firm of the Year award for seven consecutive years. It is particularly noted for its strengths in the practice areas of energy, real estate, corporate tax, banking and government contracts.
Founded in its present form on March 1 2000 through a merger between Howard Mackie, McMaster Gervais Scott & Aylen, Borden & Elliot and Ladner Downs, Borden Ladner Gervais is one of Canada’s most renowned and respected law firms. As an integrated national firm it has more than 725 lawyers, intellectual property agents and other professionals providing a broad range of legal solutions. With an impressive 76 listings across 32 different practice areas, the firm boasts some of “the best, most experienced and successful legal minds in Canada”.
Davies Ward Phillips & Vineberg, one of Canada’s leading business law firms, is made up of approximately 240 lawyers with offices in Toronto, Montreal and New York. The firm’s commitment to providing “unparalleled” client service and to maintaining its reputation as a “market leader” in each of its core practices is evident in its performance this year. The firm boasts an impressive 57 listings across 17 practice areas, building on its achievements from last year.
Fasken Martineau DuMoulin is a leading international firm specialising in business and litigation. The firm has a long history and was founded in its present form through a merger between three of Canada’s region firms, to create nine offices with more than 770 lawyers across Canada, France, South Africa and the UK. The firm’s extensive network allows it to offer comprehensive legal services of the highest quality, reflected in its 66 listings across 24 practice areas.
“Well-established” and “highly reputed”, Gowling Lafleur Henderson is recognised for its excellence as a leading practice with over 700 legal professionals throughout 10 offices around the world. From January 2016, the firm will be merging with Wragge Lawrence Graham & Co to become a new international law firm called Gowling WLG. As of now, the firm’s particular areas of expertise are in patents, trademarks, environment and life sciences.
McCarthy Tétrault prides itself on going to great lengths to understand its clients’ needs. By appreciating their business and industry, the firm is able to provide integrated legal solutions to its clients’ issues. Established in 1855, the firm has approximately 500 lawyers in Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto, Montreal and Quebec City, as well as an office in London, UK. This year the firm achieves 93 listings across 28 practice areas.
Norton Rose Fulbright is one of the largest international law firms, with more than 3,800 lawyers based in more than 50 cities around the world. It is the third largest legal practice in Canada, with more than 600 employees working in offices in Calgary, Montreal, Ottawa, Quebec and Toronto. It is therefore unsurprising that the firm has performed strongly this year with 57 listings in 23 practice areas.
Osler Hoskin & Harcourt has been a prominent fixture of the Canadian legal marketplace for over 100 years. Championing pragmatic, cost-effective and tailor-made advice, the firm continues to expand and take on a greater market share. The firm recently announced its expansion into British Colombia with a new Vancouver office, bringing the total number of offices in the country up to five. An additional office in New York offers cross-border experience and a deeper knowledge of North American business law to better serve its expansive client base. Osler’s position in our research continues to expand year on year and it boasts a multitude of market-leading practitioners in 20 distinct practice areas.
Founded in 1952 Stikeman Elliott has quickly become one of Canada’s elite firms. The firm offers a full range of legal services and has built its reputation upon providing clients with the highest-quality service. The firm is particularly recommended in the areas of corporate, commercial and finance law as attested by our research.
Torys is one of the leading business law firms in Canada, and prides itself on its quality, innovation and teamwork. The firm has offices in Toronto, New York, Calgary, and Montreal, as well as a legal services centre in Halifax. The research this year supports its strong reputation as it achieves 58 nominations across 22 practice areas, thus demonstrating the vast scope of the firm’s expertise.
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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.