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
  • Lower VAT On Hotel Services In Montenegro

    An important piece of regulation has been introduced in Montenegro recently, through the reduction of VAT on catering services in four stars hotels (in the north of the country) and five-star hotels (on the seaside), which will be effective from 2018. According to media reports, Olivera Brajović, General Director of Tourism Development and Standards in the Ministry of Sustainable Development and Tourism, pointed out that these reduced tax rates on services of preparing and serving food and drinks are expected to raise the overall competitiveness in the hospitality sector, while at the same time contribute to the combat against grey economy.
  • Karanović & Nikolić Joins The NextLaw Global Referral Network

    Karanović & Nikolić is pleased to announce that it has joined the NextLaw Global Referral Network, created by global law firm Dentons. We are particularly excited by the fact that Nextlaw presents a new type of network, with a unique invitation-only approach in their selection, ensuring that all of its members have the highest quality standards and a proven track record of excellence.
  • Sweet Smell Of Success - Serbian Sugar Industry Consolidates Its Forces

    After more than a four months and a Phase II (in-depth) investigation, the Competition Commission gave conditional approval, to Sunoko's acquisition of the Star Šećer company and its subsidiary Te-To - the owner of the sugar factory in Senta. No divestments have been required from Sunoko.
  • New Bridge Over Danube To Be Built In Belgrade

    News reports are informing us that Belgrade will gain another bridge over the Danube river in the near future – this one at the Ada Huja island and over three kilometres long.
  • Nikola Tesla Airport To Acquire Sava Centar?

    Media outlets have recently been reporting on the possibility that Nikola Tesla Airport will acquire Sava Centar (SC), with the purpose of turning it into its company headquarters. This acquisition would be followed by an investment of over EUR 30 million in the next three years for the building's reconstruction and adaptation. Such a decision would result in Sava Centar changing its name to "Congress Centre Nikola Tesla Airport", with an expanded array of facilities, including a tower, a shopping mall, and a hotel. The funds for the investment in question will be hailing from the Airport's own assets.
  • Too Big To Hide – European Commission Sanctions Truck Cartel

    Global competition law circles have recently been shaken by the European Commission's record-setting fine of EUR 2.93 billion for collusion on the automotive market, imposed against Volvo, Daimler, Iveco and DAF trucks. The sanctions in question varied amongst the accused parties, with Daimler facing the largest penalty in the amount of more than EUR 1 billion on its own. Iveco's fine was set at EUR 494 million, DAF's at EUR 752 million, and Volvo's fine has been set at EUR 670 million.
  • Cartel Office ensures greater competition in rail sector

    The German railway company Deutsche Bahn must allow for more competition. The Bundeskartellamt, Germany’s Federal Cartel Office, found that the company had abused its dominant market position with respect to the sale of rail tickets.
  • ETERNA LAW IS PLEASED TO ANNOUNCE START OF THE COOPERATION WITH PUBLIC ASSOCIATION "ACADEMY OF PREVE

    Eterna Law (representative office in Almaty) announces the beginning of co-operation as a legal adviser with the Public Association "Academy of Preventive Medicine of Kazakhstan."
  • LAG Sachsen-Anhalt on video surveillance at the workplace

    Video surveillance at the workplace does not inevitably give rise to claims for damages. That was the verdict of the Landesarbeitsgericht (LAG) Sachsen-Anhalt [Regional Labour Court of Saxony-Anhalt] (Az.: 6 Sa 301/14).
  • Final stretch for loan withdrawal

    Those who still want to withdraw from real estate loans concluded between 2002 and 2010 should take action now while the right of withdrawal is on its last legs. This get-out-of-jail-free card is set to lapse shortly.