The 2017 Who’s Who in Canadian Law Firms:
Serving Clients in Canada, the US, and Globally

By Jean Cumming, Editor-in-Chief

CANADIAN LEGAL TALENT

Firm Rankings

The bull’s-eye charts and text that follow are a guide to identifying legal talent as identified in peer surveys in support of the 2017 edition of The Canadian Legal Lexpert® Directory and its sister publication, The 2017 Lexpert®/American Lawyer Guide to the Leading 500 Lawyers in Canada. The survey work uses peer reviews to identify which counsel the Canadian legal profession regards as the top lawyers in various practice areas. Moreover, law firm positions in the bull’s-eye charts depend on the cumulative recognition their individual lawyers have achieved in these surveys. More particularly, the formula for the bull’s eye charts is as follows:

  • 1.5 points for each lawyer in the “Most Frequently Recommended” tier in any of the relevant practice areas in the 2016 edition of The Canadian Legal Lexpert® Directory OR The Lexpert®/American Lawyer Guide to the Leading Lawyers 500 in Canada;
  • 0.75 points for each lawyer in the “Consistently Recommended” tier in any of the relevant practice areas in the 2016 edition of The Canadian Legal Lexpert® Directory;
  • 0.5 points for each lawyer in the “Repeatedly Recommended” tier in any of the relevant practice areas in the 2016 edition of The Canadian Legal Lexpert® Directory;

If one lawyer appears in multiple practice areas, the calculation is treated as if it were for more than one lawyer.

THE METHOD BEHIND THE RANKINGS

The identification of leading practitioners and firms is based upon comprehensive survey work across the country, which has been ongoing since 1994. The process targets lawyers acknowledged as leaders in their respective fields, lawyers prominent in professional organizations, and lawyers otherwise enjoying significant recognition from their colleagues.

Certain surveys also canvass in-house counsel. Again this year, in-house counsel were formally surveyed in the following practice areas: Banking; Computer & IT Law; Corporate Commercial Law; Corporate Finance & Securities; Litigation – Corporate Commercial; Litigation – Intellectual Property; Mergers & Acquisitions; and Property Development.

On our surveys, Lexpert® sets out a list of the lawyers represented in the previous year’s directories, with room for write-in votes. Lawyers on the list who garner insufficient votes are not named in the surveys in the following year, while write-ins who receive sufficient support do appear as named nominees on the following year’s surveys.

The surveying does not proceed by way of random, unsolicited mailings. Lexpert® follows up on unanswered surveys and also conducts personal interviews with senior members of the profession.

These methods have produced an unusually high response rate. In 2016, Lexpert® made 14,002 requests for completed surveys from lawyers at law firms, and 7,154 additional requests were sent to corporate counsel. We received 11,545 completed surveys from law firm practitioners representing a response rate of 82.45 per cent. Our response rate from corporate counsel was 1.57 per cent.

This year, we have included “Lawyers to Watch” in their respective practice areas. They will have this status for one year. These lawyers were Finalists or Winners in last year’s “Lexpert Rising Stars: Leading Lawyers Under 40” Awards program. Those who were already Lexpert-ranked in their practice area are shown as ranked, rather than as “Lawyers to Watch”. 

AN EVOLVING APPROACH

In keeping with extensive consultations conducted with stakeholders in 2016, Lexpert® has revised the practice groups embraced by its various rankings to accord with the realities of an evolving legal market. Accordingly, the text that goes with each chart has at its outset a listing of the practice groups included in the surveys for the particular ranking.

It is important to remember that these changes reflect the market as it is today. Our rankings do change and evolve, year after year.

Lexpert® will continue with its consultations on an ongoing basis in 2017, and beyond, to ensure that the bull’s-eye charts continue to reflect an accurate picture of the legal marketplace.

There are also elements of editorial discretion applied to the rankings and the bull’s-eye charts. This is applied in a principled approach. So, for example, if:

  • There have been several lawyers who have made lateral moves from a firm, notwithstanding that they were individually ranked at the time of the Surveys, we have updated the overall firm results in the bull’s-eye charts to reflect the current situation.
  • Discretion is applied in determining the levels of ranking, among Most Frequently, Consistently and Repeatedly Recommended — we attempt to draw the lines between identifiable clusters within the vote numbers.

Select a Practice Area:
Where:
Source: 2017 Canadian Legal Lexpert™ Directory.

CORPORATE TRANSACTIONS WHO'S WHO
Lexpert® practice groups included in this category are:

  • Banking
  • Competition Law
  • Corporate Commercial Law
  • Corporate Finance & Securities
  • Corporate Tax
  • Mergers & Acquisitions

Corporate Transactions Who’s Who: Toronto

The top ranks of this category are similar to the results of the corporate lawyers’ rankings.
Davies Ward leads with Stikeman Elliott close by. Then come Osler; Torys; Goodmans; McCarthy Tétrault; and Blakes. In the next tier are Fasken Martineau; Bennett Jones; McMillan; BLG; Cassels Brock; Gowlings WLG; and Norton Rose. 

Corporate Transactions Who’s Who: Toronto (Relative to Firm Size)

When corporate transactions are adjusted for firm size, Davies Ward leads. Next are Goodmans; BAX Securities Law; Stikeman Elliott; Torys; Osler and McCarthy Tétrault. Blakes; McMillan and Bennett Jones come next. Cassels Brock and Fasken Martineau complete this bull’s-eye chart.

Corporate Transactions Who’s Who: Montréal

This category retains the firms that have traditionally led the Montréal corporate market: Stikeman Elliott leads; then McCarthy Tétrault; Davies Ward; and Fasken Martineau. Osler and Norton Rose come next. BLG, Blakes and Dentons complete the chart.

Corporate Transactions Who’s Who: Montréal (Relative to Firm Size)

When corporate transactions are adjusted for firm size, Stikeman Elliott is in the centre, followed closely by Davies Ward. McCarthy Tétrault; Osler; Fasken Martineau; and Norton Rose are next. In the next circle are BLG; Blakes; and Spiegel Sohmer. 

Corporate Transactions Who’s Who: Vancouver

Farris leads the corporate transactions bull’s-eye chart. Blakes is a close second tied with McCarthy Tétrault. Next are Lawson Lundell; BLG; and Stikeman Elliott. In the next circle are Norton Rose; Dentons; Cassels Brock; and McMillan.

Corporate Transactions Who’s Who: Vancouver (Relative to Firm Size)

When the chart is adjusted for firm size, DuMoulin Black LLP is first, then Farris; Koffman Kalef LLP; Lawson Lundell; and McCullough O’Connor Irwin LLP. Norton Rose; Blakes; and McCarthy Tétrault complete the chart. 

Corporate Transactions Who’s Who: Calgary

Bennett Jones, then BDP lead the corporate transactions category this year. Blakes is next, followed by Osler; Stikeman Elliott. In the next circle are Norton Rose; and Torys.

Corporate Transactions Who’s Who: Calgary (Relative to Firm Size)

 

When the rankings are adjusted for firm size, BDP leads the bull’s-eye; followed by Bennett Jones; Osler; Blakes; Stikeman Elliott. Next come Norton Rose; Torys; Dentons; and McCarthy Tétrault.