The Legal 500

Canada

Share this page

Editorial

Legal market overview

Despite an expectation that the slump in global commodity prices would hit Canada hard, consolidation in the mining and oil and gas sectors and an increase in private equity activity has seen overall deal value rise steeply. Canadian M&A was worth a weighty $122bn in the first half of 2015, which represents a 35% hike compared to the first half of 2014. That uptick comes on the back of an M&A boom the year before, which saw total deal value climbing from $147.2bn in 2013 to $203.1bn in 2014, according to Thomson Reuters data. Against this backdrop, it is not surprising that Canada is back in favour as a destination of choice for global law firms.

Following on from the arrivals of international heavyweights Norton Rose Fulbright in 2011 and Dentons in 2013, all had been quiet on the new entry front; the headline collapse of major Canadian law firm Heenan Blaikie in 2014 probably worked to stall some international ambitions. In April 2015, DLA Piper (Canada) LLP became the next foreign brand to enter the market, with its announcement that it had signed a merger agreement with Davis LLP, a full-service national firm with a strong reputation for projects work. Hot on the heels of that development, Canada’s Gowling Lafleur Henderson LLP entered into a tie-up with UK firm Wragge Lawrence Graham & Co LLP; both firms bring prominent IP practices to the union, which makes the move highly notable in that space.

There is no doubt that the growing presence of major global law firms is increasing competition, but the new arrivals have not yet managed to make significant inroads into the dominance of the leading domestic firms. With a few exceptions, the highest profile corporate and finance mandates continue to flow to the so-called ‘Seven Sisters’ of Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP, Davies Ward Phillips & Vineberg LLP, Goodmans, McCarthy Tétrault, Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP, Stikeman Elliott LLP and Torys. In more specialist fields, Cassels Brock & Blackwell LLP and Fasken Martineau DuMoulin LLP are top choices for mining M&A, Bennett Jones LLP is a leader in oil and gas transactions, and Borden Ladner Gervais LLP is highly regarded for power-related work.

The sheer size and jurisdictional nature of the Canadian legal system makes for a very disparate legal environment. The largest legal centre is Toronto, in the province of Ontario, which remains the key base for corporate deals. Alberta is synonymous with Canada’s oil and gas industry – notably housing the Athabasca oil sands – and thus Calgary remains a hub for energy work. British Columbia is also a major province for natural resources work, with forestry and mining key sectors. French-speaking Quebec, which operates under a civil code separate to the rest of Canada’s common law system, is a very distinct legal market.

Interview with...

Law firm managing partners and practice heads explain how their firms are adapting to clients' changing needs

Press releases

The latest news direct from law firms. If you would like to submit press releases for your firm, send an email request to

Legal Developments worldwide

Legal Developments and updates from the leading lawyers in each jurisdiction. To contribute, send an email request to

Press Releases worldwide

The latest news direct from law firms. If you would like to submit press releases for your firm, send an email request to
  • Aligning Our Interests – Regional Mobility In The Context Of Tourism

    At the recently held Summit 100 Business Forum in Sarajevo, many topics of contemporary relevance for the region of Southeast Europe were expectedly touched upon. Be it the supply of sustainable energy, the position of women in business, or the issues related to infrastructure & transport conditions, it was an opportunity for a number of prominent experts and government officials to weigh in with their opinions on how to improve the overall business situation in our region. However, one of the greatest impressions from the conference have been the discussions on the mobility of goods and people within our region, as well as the respective implications. Having in mind the beginning of summer being just a few days away, perhaps the most illustrative example in this regard can be the tourism industry and the ways in which it has been – or potentially can be – affected by such regulatory frameworks of SEE countries.
  • EBRD Activity In Serbia

    According to recent reports, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) has plans of investing more than EUR 3 billion in the Western Balkans region, of which approximately EUR 300 million is assigned to Serbia.
  • Slovenian Competition Agency Adopts A Commitment Decision In The Hyundai Case

    On 12 March 2015, the Slovenian Competition Protection Agency (" HAT "), the national distributor of Hyundai vehicles, together with a network of authorised repair shops for Hyundai motor vehicles.
  • Bosnian Diaspora Looks To Invest Back Home

    According to recent media reports, the Bosnian Central Bank (BCC) has presented information regarding the scope of investments made by the country's diaspora.  More precisely, it has been reported that more than EUR 1.5 billion of investments are being made by the Bosnian diaspora each year through remittances and formal channels – meaning that the exact figure is even larger when accounting for other, informally made investments which have been proven to exist. If to some these figures seem somewhat overblown, it should be noted that there are around 2 million registered citizens of BiH around the world, ranking the country 1 th in the world when looking at the share of immigrants in relation to the population, at the same time further showcasing the importance of diaspora's involvement in investment practices. 
  • Ikea Invests In A Designer Outlet Complex In Croatia

    ​Recent news reports show that IKEA, the world famous Swedish multinational retailer, is getting ready to invest EUR 88 million in the construction of a Designer Outlet complex in Croatia.
  • Karanović & Nikolić Attends TMA Europe Conference In Rome

    ​Turnaround Management Association (TMA) Europe held its ninth annual conference in Rome on 9 and 10 June. Partner at Karanović & Nikolić, Maja Jovančević Šetka , attended the conference as a board member of TMA Serbia.
  • NSTLAW takes part in the Briefing Session on Foreign Corrupt Practices Act

    American Chamber of Commerce in Serbia has scheduled a Briefing Session on Foreign Corrupt Practices Act on Tuesday, June 21 at 15:00 at AmCham premises in Smiljaniceva 24, Belgrade.
  • GRP Rainer: Assessing intention to prepare a will

    A prerequisite for an effective will is a serious intention on the part of the testator to prepare one. Assessing any intention to draft a will can prove to be critical.
  • EGC: Winnetou to retain trademark protection for time being

    On March 18, 2016, the General Court of the European Union ruled that the well-known novel character Winnetou shall continue to enjoy trademark protection (Az.: T-501/13).
  • Maria Borzova gives expert opinion on pharmaceutical market situation on PharmVestnik-TV

    Manager of VEGAS LEX Life sciences projects Maria Borzova has discussed current pharmaceutical market issues in the 7 days in 7 minutes program on the PharmVestnik-TV channel.