Canada’s leading employment lawyers in 2021

Here are Ontario’s leading employment lawyers based on the results of Lexpert’s latest extensive yearly peer survey. For the complete list of the country’s most recommended lawyers and law firms in the field, check out our practice area rankings.

Employment law is the branch of the legal profession that governs the rights and obligations between individuals and their employers. Its practice involves the negotiation and drafting of individual employment contracts, advice with respect to the numerous aspects of the main obligations, and drafting of non-solicitation and non-competition clauses, golden parachute compensation plans and arbitration clauses. Employment law also involves litigation arising from the employment relationship, and the application of provincial and federal related statutes such as Labour Standards, Human Rights and Health and Safety in the workplace.

Most recommended employment lawyers

Robert Bonhomme

Law firm: Borden Ladner Gervais LLP (BLG)
Year called to the Bar: 1984
City: Montréal

Robert Bonhomme is a partner at Borden Ladner Gervais LLP’s Québec office. He specializes in employment, labour and administrative law, including collective and individual relations in federal and provincial jurisdictions. Bonhomme has logged Supreme Court of Canada victories for employers in landmark cases, including Hydro-Québec’s duty to accommodate an employee frequently absent for extended periods because of illness and Place des Arts right to cease operations in light of anti-strike provisions. Bonhomme is a regular speaker on industry conferences, discussing pension plans, benefits, stock option plans, privacy, termination issues, transborder data flow of personal employee information and employers’ duty to accommodate. He is also a co-author of various legal publications, including Le congédiement en droit Québécois.

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Stacey Reginald Ball

Law firm: Ball Professional Corporation
Year called to the Bar: 1987 (AB); 1990 (ON); 1988 (BC)
City: Toronto

Stacey Reginald Ball is the principal of Ball Professional Corporation. He represents both employers and employees and has been winning counsel in several important employment law cases at all levels of court, including the Supreme Court of Canada. Ball has authored the leading treatise Canadian Employment Law (Canada Law Book, Thomson Reuters), which has been cited and quoted with approval in superior courts in every Canadian province and the Supreme Court of Canada. He is also a former editor of Canadian Cases on Employment Law and Dismissal and Employment Law Digest. Ball is a past adjunct professor at Osgoode Hall Law School and the Faculty of Law of the University of Western Ontario. He has chaired and presented at numerous employment law programs at the Law Society of Ontario and the Canadian Bar Association.

Matthew L.O. Certosimo

Law firm: Borden Ladner Gervais LLP (BLG)
Year called to the Bar: 1995
City: Toronto

Matthew L.O. Certosimo is a partner at Borden Ladner Gervais LLP (BLG), where he held the role of national leader from 2011 to 2016. He is a labour law specialist certified by the Law Society of Ontario. Certosimo frequently appears before courts, including in the appellate level. He counsels and acts on behalf of private and public sector employers in labour relations and employment law, which includes wrongful dismissal litigation, labour arbitrations, collective bargaining, human rights complaints and charges under the Occupational Health and Safety Act. Certosimo has authored and co-authored several publications in employment law.

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Joe Conforti

Law firm: Goodmans LLP
Year called to the Bar: 1987
City: Toronto

Joe Conforti is a partner at Goodmans LLP’s litigation group. He practises employment and media law. His employment law practice includes all aspects of human resources management for public and private sector employers and executives, providing advice on employment and compensation agreements, collective bargaining agreements, occupational health and safety, human rights, plant closures, successor employer obligations, corporate policies and procedures, wrongful dismissals and severance arrangements. Conforti’s media law practice, meanwhile, includes pre-publication and pre-broadcast advice to print, broadcast, and internet media and libel litigation. He appears as counsel before courts, arbitrators and administrative tribunals. Conforti is an author of several published articles and a speaker at continuing legal education conferences and seminars on workplace issues.

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William R. Gale

Law firm: Grosman Gale Fletcher Hopkins LLP
Year called to the Bar: 1982
City: Toronto

William R. Gale has been a partner at Grosman Gale Fletcher Hopkins LLP since 1989, where he practises in the areas of employment and labour law. He represents management exclusively in labour law and has appeared before labour boards and arbitrators. Gale has appeared in the courts at both the trial and appellate levels to argue many reported decisions involving issues such as wrongful dismissal, human rights and pensions and benefits. His employment law practice also includes negotiating and drafting executive contracts. He represents employers, including many arts organizations, and chairs the board of the Hannaford Street Silver Band. Gale has also written articles about employment law for numerous publications.

 

Neena P. Gupta

Law firm: Gowling WLG
Year called to the Bar: 1989 (ON); 1998 (SK)
City: Kitchener-Waterloo

Neena P. Gupta is a partner in the Waterloo and Toronto offices of Gowling WLG. She has advised a broad range of employers, from start-ups to multinationals, on all aspects of employment law, including policies, offer letters, wrongful dismissal, Accessibility for Ontarians with a Disability Act (AODA), employment equity, cross-border employment, human rights and health and safety compliance in Canada. She is also a senior trial lawyer in employment and commercial matters. Gupta is a popular speaker at events hosted by Chambers of Commerce, human resource organizations, universities and trade and Bar associations. She developed the employment law course at Seneca College and taught at the University of Toronto and Queen’s University as an adjunct professor at the Faculty of Law. Gupta is on the board of BioTalent Canada, the United Way of Waterloo-Wellington Region and the Literary Review of Canada. She has previously served as a director of The Advocates’ Society and a governor of the Law Commission of Ontario.

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Peter Israel

Law firm: Israel Foulon LLP
Year called to the Bar: 1978
City: Toronto

Peter Israel is a founding partner at Israel Foulon LLP. He has practised exclusively in the areas of employment and labour law throughout his career. Israel has appeared at all levels of courts in Ontario and the Supreme Court of Canada. As a mediator, Israel’s established reputation and professional accomplishments as a lawyer have provided credibility and catapulted him to becoming one of the “go-to Mediators” in the Greater Toronto area.

Lorenzo Lisi

Law firm: Aird & Berlis LLP
Year called to the Bar: 1990
Province: Ontario

Lorenzo Lisi serves as partner and practice group leader at Aird & Berlis LLP’s workplace law group. He has practised labour and employment law exclusively for more than 30 years, representing clients provincially and federally. His expertise spans the broad spectrum of workplace law, from defending employers against employee claims such as wrongful and constructive dismissal, human rights and harassment to dealing with a unionized workplace. Lisi has substantial experience in grievance and labour board litigation, injunctive proceedings, responding to union organizing and applications for certification, collective bargaining and grievance arbitration. He advises management clients on acquisitions, divestitures and restructurings, enforceability of restrictive covenants and the application of various labour and employment statutes.

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Malcolm MacKillop

Law firm: Shields O’Donnell MacKillop LLP
Year called to the Bar: 1984 (NL); 1989 (ON)
City: Toronto

Malcolm MacKillop is a founding member and senior partner of Shields O’Donnell MacKillop LLP. He has practised exclusively management-side employment, labour and human rights law for more than 30 years. MacKillop is recognized for his expertise in representing senior executives in employment-related disputes. He has been routinely retained by employers in high profile and crisis management cases based on his strategic approach to resolving complicated and sensitive workplace issues. In 2013, MacKillop was awarded the Queen Elizabeth medal for philanthropy abroad by the Governor General of Canada. He also received the Ontario Bar Association’s Randall Echlin Mentorship Award in 2016. MacKillop has also co-authored Damage Control: An Employer’s Guide to Just Cause Termination and Employment Law Solutions, now in its second edition, among several other leading employment law texts. In January 2021, Malcolm received the World Vision Heroes for Children Award: The Power of Generosity Award, which recognized him for using his public voice and generosity to lift and promote the needs of children.

Chris G. Paliare

Law firm: Paliare Roland Rosenberg Rothstein LLP
Year called to the Bar: 1973
City: Toronto

Chris G. Paliare is a partner at Paliare Roland Rosenberg Rothstein LLP. He is considered as one of Canada’s top litigators at trial and appellate levels. Paliare has extensive experience in shareholder disputes, securities litigation, administrative law, Charter of Rights and Freedoms and constitutional litigation, class actions, employment law and white-collar criminal law. Paliare is a fellow of the International Academy of Trial Lawyers (Eastern Canadian chair), International Society of Barristers and American College of Trial Lawyers, and a former Ontario provincial chair. He is also an honorary member of the Specialist Bar Association for Commercial Barristers (COMBAR) and a member of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators.

Linda R. Rothstein

Law firm: Paliare Roland Rosenberg Rothstein LLP
Year called to the Bar: 1982
City: Toronto

Linda R. Rothstein is a senior partner at Paliare Roland Rosenberg Rothstein LLP. She devotes her practice to civil and administrative litigation with expertise in class actions, commercial litigation, professional liability and misconduct, public law, employment and human rights, and judicial review and appeals. Her high-profile work includes acting as commission counsel to the inquiry into pediatric forensic pathology and lead counsel to the Motherisk hair analysis review. Rothstein is a recipient of the Ontario Bar Association’s Award of Excellence in Civil Litigation in 2018.

Nancy Shapiro

Law firm: Koskie Minsky LLP
Year called to the Bar: 1998
City: Toronto

Nancy Shapiro is a partner and member of the executive committee at Koskie Minsky LLP. She devotes her practice to employment law, serving both employers and employees. Shapiro represents non-unionized employers and employees in a wide variety of sectors. She is well-versed in all aspects of the employment relationship, including hiring, discipline, disability management, performance management and human rights through to termination. Shapiro is frequently engaged in the preparation and negotiation of employment contracts, manuals and policies, legislative compliance, restructuring, workplace investigations, litigation and appellant work. She acts on cases of wrongful dismissal, breach of contract, discrimination, constructive dismissal, director and officer liability, errors and omissions issues and partnership/shareholder disputes in the employment context. She is on the LawPro preferred counsel list, a frequent speaker at industry conferences and author of many employment-related articles.

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