Canada's leading environmental lawyers

Here are Canada’s leading environmental lawyers based on the results of Lexpert’s comprehensive annual peer review. For the complete list of the nation’s most recommended environmental lawyers and law firms, check out our practice area rankings.

Environmental law governs all aspects of the legal profession associated with how humans interact with their natural environment. The practice aims to protect the environment and regulate how people use natural resources.

Most frequently recommended environmental lawyers

Charles J. Birchall
Law firm: Willms & Shier Environmental Lawyers LLP
Year called to the Bar: 1981 (ON); 2014 (NU); 2014 (NT)

City: Ottawa

Charles J. Birchall is a partner at Willms & Shier Environmental Lawyers LLP. He is certified by the Law Society of Ontario as a specialist in environmental law and considered one of the best environmental lawyers in Canada. Birchall boasts more than 30 years’ experience devoted exclusively to environmental law and the intersection of the practice with Indigenous law, consultation and economic development. He is an expert in environmental assessments, compliance issues, contaminated lands and energy law. Birchall advises clients across Canada, including environmental boards and tribunals in the northern territories, about administrative law and environmental assessment issues raised by mining, oil and gas, and energy and infrastructure projects. He provides advice on environmental aspects of corporate and commercial negotiations and transactions, and defends clients being investigated or prosecuted for breaches of environmental laws and orders. Birchall has appeared before Parliamentary Committees in the Senate and House of Commons on proposed environmental legislation.

Paul R. Cassidy
Law firm:
McCarthy Tétrault LLP
Year called to the Bar: 1984

City: Vancouver

Paul R. Cassidy is a partner practising environmental law at McCarthy Tétrault LLP. He advises on environmental and natural resources issues, including major project permitting and approvals, environmental assessments, financing, mergers and acquisitions, lender liability, directors’ & officers’ liability, contaminated sites, environmental litigation, due diligence reviews, training and crisis management. Cassidy also advises on energy issues, including LNG projects, power agreements, project siting, climate change and renewable energy development. He has provided expert evidence in American proceedings on environmental laws in Canada and before Canadian Parliament Environment Committee. Cassidy is a trained mediator and co-founder of the Canadian Centre for Environmental Arbitration & Mediation.

Read more about McCarthy Tétrault LLP on legislative shifts in climate change environmental regimes

Rosalind H. Cooper
Law firm:
Fasken Martineau DuMoulin LLP
Year called to the Bar: 1991

City: Toronto

Rosalind H. Cooper serves as a partner at Fasken Martineau DuMoulin LLP. She recognized as among Canada’s leading environmental lawyers and is certified by the Law Society of Ontario as an expert in environmental law. Cooper defends environmental charges and litigates contaminated land and other environmental disputes before all levels of court. She is involved in appeals and environmental assessment proceedings before the Environmental Review Tribunal and is a recognized environmental mediator. Cooper advises on issues including regulatory matters, exposure to environmental liability, contaminated lands, land development and environmental compliance approvals. She is a highly sought arbitrator and mediator and provides advice on a variety of transactions, including mergers and acquisitions, the purchase and sale of real estate, secured lending transactions and leasing arrangements. Cooper also advises on aspects of due diligence, and occupational health and safety matters, defending charges and deals with work refusals and appeals of orders issued by the Ministry of Labour, as well as reprisal complaints.

Read more about Fasken Martineau DuMoulin LLP on deal trends in Canadian private equity

Shawn H.T. Denstedt
Law firm:
Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP
Year called to the Bar: 1989 (AB); 1993 (ON)

City: Calgary

Shawn H.T. Denstedt is the vice-chair of Western Canada at Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP. He devotes his practice to energy, mining, environmental, regulatory and Aboriginal law. Denstedt advises companies primarily in the natural resource industry and has been engaged in several international assignments. Denstedt has advised Canada’s largest energy industry associations on regulatory reform for energy project development. He has appeared in major regulatory proceedings before the Alberta Energy Regulator (Energy Resources Conservation Board), Alberta Utilities Commission, National Energy Board, Federal Environmental Assessment joint review panels, Ontario Energy Board, Alberta Environmental Appeal Board and other appeal boards. Denstedt has successfully represented clients in the development of multibillion-dollar transactions, including pipeline, oil sands, shale gas, LNG, hydro-electric and mining projects, and offshore developments. He has also advised clients on their obligations to Aboriginal groups and negotiated resource development and IBAs with Aboriginal groups on behalf of resource developers. Denstedt is recognized as one of the best environmental lawyers in Canada.

Read more about Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP on sectors ripe for litigation

Bradley S. Gilmour
Law firm:
Bennett Jones LLP
Year called to the Bar: 1996 (AB); 2005 (BC)

City: Calgary

Bradley S. Gilmour is a partner at Bennett Jones LLP and heads the firm’s regulatory department. He devotes his practice to environmental, regulatory, energy and Aboriginal law. Gilmour provides advice on a range of environmental legal issues, including due diligence, environmental approvals, release and incident reporting, contaminated sites and environmental prosecutions. He has been defense counsel on many of the most significant environmental and regulatory prosecutions under environmental and energy legislation. Gilmour has significant experience in facility approval applications associated with a broad range of energy, natural resource, chemical, petrochemical, hydro, biofuel, wind and other industry types, and involving federal and provincial environmental impact assessments. His experience includes helping clients in obtaining approvals for oil sands mining and in-situ projects, upgrading and refining projects, LNG facilities, conventional oil and gas wells, pipelines and facilities, carbon capture and storage, biomass, hydro and other renewable projects. Gilmour has appeared before the Alberta Energy Regulator, the Alberta Utilities Commission, the Natural Resources Conservation Board, the Canada Energy Regulator and the Alberta Environmental Appeals Board. He holds a BSc in chemistry and MSc degree in environmental science.

Read more about Bennett Jones LLP on the oil sector’s tough year

Leonard J. Griffiths
Law firm: Bennett Jones LLP
Year called to the Bar: 1985

City: Toronto

Leonard J. Griffiths is a partner and the co-head of Bennett Jones LLP’s environmental group. He is one of the first lawyers to be certified by the Law Society of Ontario as a specialist in environmental law. His practice involves regulatory advice, risk management, energy, natural resources, sustainability, project construction and finance, environmental assessments and approvals, corporate transactions, environmental management systems, litigation and policy matters. Griffiths assists clients across Canada, the US and internationally. He is one of the founding members of the Canadian Centre for Environmental Arbitration and Mediation. Griffiths is considered among Canada’s leading environmental lawyers. He is a former adjunct professor at University of Toronto's law school and past chair of both Ontario and Federal Canadian Bar Association’s environmental sections. Griffiths is also a director of Plug'n Drive, a non-profit organization committed to accelerating the adoption of electric vehicles and infrastructure to maximize environmental and economic benefits.

Read more about Bennett Jones LLP on infrastructure developments during pandemic

Alexander G. MacWilliam
Law firm:
Dentons Canada LLP
Year called to the Bar: 1986

City: Calgary

Alexander G. MacWilliam is the Canada lead for the global environment and natural resources group and the global climate change strategies practice group at Dentons Canada LLP, where he also serves as partner. He regularly advises Canadian and international clients on all legal issues relating to the environment, including regulatory approvals, compliance, contaminated land, climate change, transportation of dangerous goods, dealing with regulatory agencies, responses to government policies and the development of internal environmental practices and systems. MacWilliam also advises clients on the management and minimization of liability arising from environmental risks, compliance, environmental management systems and other risk management tools. He boasts significant experience in the legal aspects of emergency response and crisis management and in resolving disputes arising from environmental incidents through negotiation, mediation, arbitration and litigation. MacWilliam is a trained mediator and has applied his experience to facilitate the resolution of many environmental disputes. He is frequently involved in major national and cross-border transactions relating to environmental due diligence arising in asset and share transactions, public offerings and financings.

Read more about Dentons Canada LLP on Indigenous consultation standards

Marc McAree
Law firm: Willms & Shier Environmental Lawyers LLP
Year called to the Bar: 1995 (ON); 2008 (BC)

City: Toronto

Marc McAree is a partner at Willms & Shier Environmental Lawyers LLP. He is certified by the Law Society of Ontario as a specialist in environmental law and is recognized as one of Canada’s leading environmental lawyers. McAree advises on environmental law and litigation involving contaminated land, nuisances, discharges, compliance, approvals, risk mitigation and insurance. He appears in all Ontario Courts and before the Environmental Review Tribunal. McAree appeals environmental orders and approvals and defends environmental prosecutions. He also advises on environmental transactional due diligence and provides environmental compliance advice. McAree is a co-author of Experts in Environmental Litigation in the Canadian Journal of Administrative Law & Practice published in 2015. He is also the co-founder and co-chair of the Willms & Shier Environmental Law Moot Court Competition.

Shawn M. Munro
Law firm: Bennett Jones LLP
Year called to the Bar: 1994

City: Calgary

Shawn M. Munro co-chairs Bennett Jones LLP’s energy industry team. He is also the past chair of the firm’s environmental law and Aboriginal law practice groups. With 25 years of experience in regulatory, environmental and Aboriginal law proceedings in Alberta, British Columbia and other provinces, Munro advises on major energy developments, including conventional oil and gas, oil sands, heavy oil, sour gas, coalbed methane and shale plays. He also advises on petrochemical and LNG projects, pipelines for gas, oil, liquids and carbon dioxide, power lines and generation projects, waste management facilities and pipeline spills. Munro acts on production disputes such as common carrier, processor and rateable take, gas-bitumen and gas-coal. He advises project proponents in First Nation and Métis consultation, agreements and access on traditional lands, reserves and settlements. Munro represents clients at various tribunals, including the Alberta Energy Regulator, Utilities Commission, Environmental Appeals Board, Natural Resources Conservation Board, Surface Rights Board and Métis Settlements Appeals Tribunal.

Read more about Bennett Jones LLP on protecting against fraud amid pandemic

Alexandria (Alex) Pike
Law firm:
Davies Ward Phillips & Vineberg LLP
Year called to the Bar: 1995

City: Toronto

Alexandria (Alex) Pike is a partner at Davies Ward Phillips & Vineberg LLP’s environmental and Indigenous and energy practices. She is also the immediate past chair of the Canadian Bar Association’s National Environment, Energy and Resource Law Section. Pike advises on environmental liability in various sectors, including mining, manufacturing, chemical, pulp and paper, transportation and real estate. She is an expert on contaminated lands, addressing liability in transactions and redevelopment. Pike advises on environmental risk and permitting requirements in complex energy, infrastructure and resource projects. She boasts expertise in Indigenous matters and advised on the creation of environmental protection and assessment regimes under Canada’s First Nations Land Management Act. Pike also represents clients in regulatory proceedings and provides environmental expertise in litigation, including with respect to directors’ and officers’ liability.

Read more about Davies Ward Phillips & Vineberg LLP on renewable energy sources

Sarah V. Powell
Law firm: Davies Ward Phillips & Vineberg LLP
Year called to the Bar: 1993

City: Toronto

Sarah V. Powell is a partner at Davies Ward Phillips & Vineberg LLP and is recognized as one of Canada’s leading environmental lawyers. She advises on the assessment of environmental and social risks and impacts, Indigenous matters, climate change, contaminated site development and litigation and the permitting of infrastructure, energy and natural resource projects. Powell is also successful at advocating before administrative tribunals regarding permitting for infrastructure, resource development and manufacturing projects. She is involved in the development and reform of Canadian environmental law, and is a frequent writer and speaker on environmental, energy and Indigenous law issues. Powell is past chair of the National Environmental, Energy and Resource Law Section of the Canadian Bar Association and the Ontario Bar Association’s Environmental Law Section. She is certified by the Law Society of Ontario as a specialist in environmental law.

Read more about Davies Ward Phillips & Vineberg LLP on acceleration of virtual arbitration during pandemic