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Canada > Dispute resolution > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings

Editorial

Index of tables

  1. Dispute resolution: Alberta
  2. Dispute resolution: British Columbia
  3. Dispute resolution: Ontario
  4. Dispute resolution: Québec
  5. Leading lawyers: dispute resolution - Alberta
  6. Next generation lawyers: dispute resolution - Alberta
  7. Leading lawyers: dispute resolution - British Columbia
  8. Next generation lawyers: dispute resolution - British Columbia
  9. Leading lawyers: dispute resolution - Ontario
  10. Next generation lawyers: dispute resolution - Ontario
  11. Leading lawyers: dispute resolution - Quebec
  12. Next generation lawyers: dispute resolution - Quebec

Leading lawyers: dispute resolution - Alberta

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Next generation lawyers: dispute resolution - Alberta

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    • Shannon Hayes - Burnet Duckworth & Palmer LLP

Leading lawyers: dispute resolution - British Columbia

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Next generation lawyers: dispute resolution - British Columbia

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Leading lawyers: dispute resolution - Ontario

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Next generation lawyers: dispute resolution - Ontario

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Leading lawyers: dispute resolution - Quebec

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Next generation lawyers: dispute resolution - Quebec

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    • Jean-Philippe Groleau - Davies Ward Phillips & Vineberg LLP

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Due to the jurisdictional nature of Canada’s litigation landscape, we have included local tables for Alberta, British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec. The combined editorial follows in alphabetical order by firm name.

From its Toronto platform, the Canadian arm of Baker McKenzie excels in cross-border litigation and also retains a niche strength in fraud and asset recovery matters. John Pirie chairs the group and led the firm’s advice to Fédération des caisses Desjardins du Québec as one of the main defendants in the credit card fee class actions brought in Ontario, British Columbia, Quebec, Saskatchewan and Alberta – the class actions were settled in 2016. Matthew Latella is also recommended and successfully concluded his defence of Kyrgyzaltyn JSC in four multimillion-dollar international arbitral award enforcement matters – the decision to dismiss all claims was upheld on appeal.

Bennett Jones LLP’s ‘very strong dispute resolution team’ is split mainly between Ontario and Alberta – although it also has a platform in British Columbia. Lawyers are roundly praised as ‘responsive, client-focused, innovative and savvy’, with Toronto-based Jeffrey Leon highlighted as ‘pragmatic, tough, smart and a pleasure to deal with’. Leon continues to represent six provinces in tobacco-related healthcare cost recovery litigation. Also in Toronto, Michael Eizenga advised five defendants in a class action alleging that Canada’s hotel industry is unlawfully charging their customers destination marketing fees. Litigation co-chair Richard Swan and securities litigation expert Robert Staley are also key names in Toronto. In Calgary, national group co-head Kenneth Lenz QC represented Orphan Well Association in its landmark challenge to the rights of trustees and receivers to abandon environmental liabilities. Also in Calgary, ‘simply fantastic trial lawyerBlair Yorke-Slader QC is considered among the leading litigators in Alberta.

National powerhouse Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP fields well-balanced practice that ranks highly in each of Canada’s four largest commercial centres. In Ontario, the group is particularly diverse and packs a punch in commercial and civil litigation, class actions, product liability and international arbitration, among other core areas. Toronto heavy-hitter Michael Barrack is ‘outstanding’ and has recently been involved in some of the market’s most high-profile restructuring proceedings. Also in Toronto, Paul Schabas and Iris Fischer advised Toronto Star Newspapers on a constitutional challenge to the application of freedom of information laws to Ontario judicial tribunals. Bradley Berg is also recommended in Toronto. A strong showing in British Columbia sees the firm climb to tier one in that market. Among the Vancouver office’s recent highlights, James Sullivan represented Microsoft (as co-counsel alongside Fasken Martineau DuMoulin LLP) in class actions alleging it breached competition laws in the sale of software products – significantly, this is the first indirect purchaser class action to proceed to trial in Canada. ‘Leading light’ William Kaplan QC is also a key name in Vancouver. Other high-profile litigators include David Tupper in Calgary and Robert Torralbo in Montreal.

Widely acclaimed as an ‘excellent overall service provider’, Borden Ladner Gervais LLP impresses with its ‘outstanding business acumen and industry knowledge’, ‘well-reasoned and practical legal advice’ and ‘very appropriate use of time’. The dispute resolution group has robust offerings in Alberta, British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec, and its national expertise spans a wide range of energy litigation, financial services litigation, construction disputes, environmental matters, class actions and arbitration. In Calgary, the group sits comfortably at the top of the market due in no small part to the reputations of Randall Block QC (‘supremely intelligent’) and senior counsel Frank Foran QC. Recent Calgary highlights include Michael Marion representing Sinopec Canada in a claim brought by a joint venture partner. National group head John Blair QC is also recommended in Calgary. Guy Pratte splits his time between Montreal, Toronto and Ottawa and is acting with Montreal-based François Grondin to represent JTI-Macdonald and others in several class actions relating to tobacco addiction and smoking-related illnesses. Other key names include Vancouver-based Robert Deane and Ottawa-based David Scott QC.

A standout name for energy litigation, Calgary-based Burnet Duckworth & Palmer LLP also handles a steady stream of construction disputes, securities litigation, contentious IP matters, personal injury and tax disputes. Daniel McDonald QC and Douglas Mills are both widely regarded as leaders in their fields. The large team also includes ‘extremely strong younger partner’ Shannon Hayes.

Cassels Brock & Blackwell LLP’s Toronto office houses a very capable dispute resolution practice, with Wendy Berman singled out as ‘very experienced’. Berman and Lara Jackson successfully represented Philippe Mulacek (founder and former chair and chief executive of InterOil) in blocking the $2.3bn acquisition of InterOil by ExxonMobil. Jackson also teamed up with Bill Burden to represent IBM in a complex contractual claim brought by Ontario’s Ministry of Transportation – as well as in IBM’s related counterclaim. Glenn Zakaib is also recommended.

DLA Piper (Canada) LLP’s national group is led jointly by John Landry and David Foulds from Vancouver and Toronto respectively, and it also calls on partners in the firm’s Calgary, Edmonton and Montreal offices. In Calgary, Patrick Roche defended Balancing Pool in a C$100m force majeure claim made by an Alberta power plant owner under a power purchase arrangement. In Vancouver, David Neave and Kevin Wright are defending Porsche in multiple class actions relating to the so-called ‘defeat devices’ allegedly installed in Porsche Cayenne vehicles. Toronto-based Derek Bell is also recommended. In 2017, Montreal-based Hubert Sibre moved to Miller Thomson.

At the top of the list for complex files’, Davies Ward Phillips & Vineberg LLP’s practice comprises ‘litigators you want in your corner’. Split between the firm’s power bases in Toronto and Montreal, the department excels in commercial litigation, tax disputes, securities litigation, competition matters, white-collar crime and class actions. In Montreal, Guy Du Pont Ad E provides ‘excellent counsel’ and along with the ‘very bright, persuasive, tenacious and empathetic’ Marc-André Boutin represented the estate of Paul Desmarais in a case brought by the brother of the late Paul Desmarais claiming C$75m on the basis of a promise, allegedly made verbally, to return shares of Power Corporation of Canada. Other key names in Quebec include ‘rising star’ Jean-Philippe Groleau and senior litigator William Brock Ad E. In Toronto, Kent Thomson is a ‘great trial lawyer’ and alongside ‘talented younger partner’ Derek Ricci defended Zimmer Biomet Holdings in class action proceedings in Ontario, Quebec and Nova Scotia concerning alleged defects in certain hip replacement and resurfacing implants. Sandra Forbes (‘always impressive’) and Matthew Milne-Smith (‘an excellent lawyer’) are also recommended.

A ‘true business partner’, Dentons finds favour for providing ‘steady guidance through challenging circumstances’. Among its chief attributes, clients appreciate lawyers’ ‘readiness to continually negotiate rather than litigate’ as well as their ‘good understanding of the business context’. In Calgary, national co-lead Gordon Tarnowsky QC is highly regarded for energy and natural resources matters and is currently involved in a significant energy-related arbitration. In Toronto, senior counsel Robb Heintzman is ‘very strategic and results driven’; he is representing Deloitte in a C$40m class action alleging misrepresentation in the financial statements of SouthGobi Resources. Michael Schafler jointly heads the national department from Toronto and has an ‘excellent ability to read a situation’. Craig Dennis QC is the key contact in Vancouver and alongside Montreal-based Laurent Nahmiash defended Yahoo! Canada in class actions arising from two high-profile breaches of user account data.

British Columbia boutique Farris, Vaughan, Wills & Murphy has litigation department spread across its three offices in Vancouver, Kelowna and Victoria. Leading names include ‘first-rate litigator’ Joseph Arvay QC, who shines in public law cases, and Ludmila Herbst QC, who has a broad practice that encompasses commercial and corporate litigation, constitutional law and arbitration – both are based in Vancouver. In a recent high-profile ruling, the firm successfully assisted the Vancouver Sun newspaper and the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network in lifting a publication ban at the BC Court of Appeal.

Fasken Martineau DuMoulin LLP’s litigation practice is broad in terms of both geographical coverage and practice area expertise, with varied teams deployed across its Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal, Quebec City, Calgary and Ottawa offices. High-profile partner Geoffrey Cowper QC chairs the group from Vancouver and continues to represent Microsoft (as co-counsel alongside Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP) in class actions alleging it breached competition laws in the sale of software products. Mark Andrews QC is also a senior figure in Vancouver. In Toronto, Gerald Ranking defended PwC in a multibillion-dollar claim brought by the liquidator of the Fairfield Sentry Fund relating to the Madoff Ponzi scheme. The group also benefits from the expertise of Toronto-based Laura Cooper and Montreal-based Martin Sheehan.

At Goodmans, star partner Benjamin Zarnett is revered as ‘one of the best litigators practising in Canada today’, with one source saying, ‘his name is synonymous with quality’. The firm’s litigation department has a broad focus, with top-tier expertise in several core areas, including contentious restructurings (where it works hand-in-hand with its market-leading restructuring group), financial services, IP and IT – despite its one-office model, it is also routinely involved in multi-jurisdictional litigation. Among the team’s recent work, Zarnett successfully defended Chevron Canada in efforts to enforce a $9.5bn Ecuadorian judgment against Chevron Corporation, with the court finding that the former entity is not an asset of the latter. In a highlight restructuring-related case, Alan Mark and Peter Ruby advised the Province of Ontario in litigation arising from the restructuring of US Steel Canada. Jessica Kimmel and counsel John Keefe are also recommended.

Gowling WLG’s ‘knowledgeable and strategic partners’ and ‘solid business acumen’ ensures ‘very good value for money’, according to clients. Among its highlights, Calgary advocacy lead David Bishop and the Toronto-based head of class actions Scott Kugler and commercial litigation head Robert Armstrong advised Poseidon Concepts on C$600m securities class actions filed in Ontario, Quebec and Alberta. Vancouver managing partner Shayne Strukoff QC is ‘beyond excellent’ and alongside Vancouver-based insurance specialist Mike Adlem defended Citibank in class actions brought by retailers relating to credit card processing fees. The department also includes John Callaghan in Toronto and Montreal-based Alexandre Sami, who is able to ‘explain difficult legal concepts to make the law accessible to clients’.

Regarded by some as ‘the standout leader in British Columbia’, Hunter Litigation Chambers’ ‘deep bench’ and ‘extremely experienced senior names’ place it firmly in the upper echelons of the market. Kenneth McEwan QC is ‘at the top of his game’ and with William Smart QC successfully defended Fortress Paper in a multimillion-dollar breach of contract claim against Sateri. Michael Stephens is also noted and was part of the team that represented Teal Cedar Products in its successful appeal of a decision of the BC Court of Appeal to the Supreme Court to restore an award of compensation. Claire Hunter is a ‘lawyer to watch’. In 2017, senior partner John Hunter QC was appointed a judge of the BC Court of Appeal.

Montreal boutique Irving Mitchell Kalichman has wide-ranging litigation capability, with notable experience in civil and commercial litigation, public law, class actions and alternative dispute resolution. Name partner Doug Mitchell has a strong record in high-stakes matters and successfully represented the respondent in a landmark case before the Supreme Court of Canada clarifying the personal liability of directors in oppression cases. In 2017, name partner Peter Kalichman was appointed a judge of the Superior Court of Quebec.

From its Calgary headquarters, JSS Barristers focuses exclusively on dispute resolution and fields 12 partners dedicated to the area. Energy litigation is a significant area of expertise, but the firm also has strong experience in corporate, banking, insurance and constitutional matters. High-profile litigator Carsten Jensen QC teamed up with Sabri Shawa QC and Stacy Petriuk to represent the Alberta government in its healthcare cost recovery claim against tobacco companies.

Lavery, de Billy’s dispute resolution department is dispersed across its four offices in Quebec. Particular areas of note include insurance litigation, construction disputes, infrastructure-related litigation and class actions. Quebec City-based Marie Cossette Ad E heads the firm’s business integrity group and is highly recommended for public law issues.

Particularly strong in its Vancouver headquarters, Lawson Lundell LLP’s litigation team is supported by partners in Calgary and Yellowknife. Vancouver-based Marko Vesely is a key contact and has a comprehensive practice, with a strong showing in defamation and media law; he successfully defended the National Energy Board in a case brought by Geophysical Services alleging the NEB’s disclosure of seismic data was a violation of the Copyright Act. Class action specialist Craig Ferris QC is also recommended in Vancouver.

Lax O'Sullivan Lisus Gottlieb LLP secures strong praise for its ‘unswerving client focus’ and ‘remarkable senior litigators’. Among the names to note, heavy-hitter Jonathan Lisus is singled out for his ‘excellent courtroom presence’, and Matthew Gottlieb has a ‘sharp mind’. The group also calls on the expertise of senior partners Clifford Lax QC and Terrence O’Sullivan, who are highlighted as ‘deans of the litigation bar’. The firm’s reputation as a ‘dependably tenacious counsel’ makes it a top choice for fiercely contested and high-stakes matters, and it successfully assisted client Chevron Canada Capital Company block efforts to add it as a defendant to the high-profile action to enforce a $9.5bn Ecuadorian judgment in Canada.

Premier Toronto boutique Lenczner Slaght LLP is considered ‘among the best in the country’ for dispute resolution. The firm’s deep bench impresses, with its ‘effective combination of senior partners and experienced mid-level lawyers’ attracting strong praise. In particular, Peter Griffin (‘the most in-demand litigator in Canada’) and Tom Curry (‘absolutely first-class’) are both highly sought after for complex cases. Among its recent work, Griffin advised DBDC Spadina in an application to appoint a receiver and to recover C$110m from a real estate venture with Norma Walton. Name partners Ronald Slaght QC and Alan Lenczner QC are still active in the market, and Shara Roy is a partner to watch.

Lerners LLP handles a wide range of contentious matters from its offices in London and Toronto, with notable expertise in commercial litigation, insurance, employment disputes, insolvency litigation and international arbitration. Commercial litigation head William Pepall and noted arbitrator Earl Cherniak QC are recommended – both work out of Toronto.

McCarthy Tétrault has a formidable group in its Toronto office and its platforms in British Columbia, Quebec and Alberta are robust also. In Toronto, Neil Finkelstein is regarded as a market leader and represented Bell Mobility before the Federal Court of Appeal in a closely watched case discussing the dividing lines between the Broadcasting Act and the Telecommunications Act. Paul Steep is also a high-profile figure in Toronto and with Sarit Batner represented Philip Morris in the Ontario set of healthcare cost recovery actions brought by Canadian provincial governments – its Calgary, Vancouver and Montreal teams are advising the tobacco giant and its affiliates on parallel litigation in Alberta, British Columbia and Quebec. In Vancouver, Michael Feder’s reputation continues to grow and he successfully represented Duncan Thompson in a high-profile Supreme Court of Canada case confirming the extent of solicitor-client privilege. Other names to note include Montreal-based Simon Potter Ad E, Toronto-based Paul Morrison, Vancouver-based class action specialist Jill Yates, and Sean Smyth QC in Calgary.

McLennan Ross LLP’s litigation practice, which is largely split between Edmonton and Calgary, is well known for its expertise in environmental matters, and it also routinely handles commercial litigation, constitutional law and class actions. Don Dear QC jointly chairs the practice from Calgary and successfully represented Apex Land in a multimillion-dollar case brought under the Occupiers’ Liability Act. James Lebo QC is also recommended in Calgary and is representing an oil company in an IP dispute relating to the use of licensed technical data. Co-chair Ken Fitz in based in Edmonton.

The national practice at McMillan LLP is particularly strong in Ontario, under the guidance of Toronto-based dispute resolution co-chair David Kent. Kent has a strong reputation nationally for competition class actions and advised on a slew of recent high-profile cases, including advising MasterCard in the credit card fee class actions and representing Penguin in the e-books conspiracy actions. Markus Koehnen was recently appointed a judge of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice.

The ‘simply first-class’ Vancouver boutique Nathanson, Schachter & Thompsonknows how to take on the big boys and win’. The firm focuses exclusively on civil and business litigation and arbitration and handles a steady stream of nationally significant cases, with strong showings in mining, securities and shareholder disputes. Irwin Nathanson QC is a ‘sophisticated litigator’ and is a key contact in a team that also includes Stephen Schachter QC and Geoffrey Gomery QC.

Norton Rose Fulbright, following its 2017 merger with Vancouver-based Bull, Housser & Tupper LLP, now has litigation expertise in all of Canada’s four largest provinces, ensuring a ‘broad and cohesive national practice’. Clarke Hunter QC is recognized as ‘the go-to-litigator in Calgary’ and continues to represent Chevron (as co-counsel with Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP in defending efforts to enforce in Canada a $9.5bn judgment obtained against Chevron in Ecuador. In Quebec, Pierre Bienvenu Ad E has ‘impeccable judgment’ and is representing Hydro-Québec against Churchill Falls (Labrador) Corporation in C$8bn litigation relating to the renewal of a longstanding supply contract. Daniel Bennett QC is the key name in British Columbia and is advising Rio Tinto Alcan in a landmark case concerning Aboriginal title. In Toronto, Steve Tenai and Montreal-based François Fontaine Ad E represented SNC-Lavalin in C$1bn securities litigation. Other senior names include Calgary-based Mary Comeau and Montreal-based Jean Bertrand Ad E, while Vancouver’s Ryan Dalziel and Toronto’s Rahool Agarwal are highlighted as up-and-coming lawyers to watch.

Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP’s national practice, which is split between its Toronto, Montreal and Calgary offices, shines in class actions, securities litigation, tax disputes, product liability and energy litigation. Class action specialist Deborah Glendinning is a key name in Toronto and leads the firm’s representation of Imperial Tobacco Canada, including in class actions, Medicaid claims and other regulatory issues. Also in Toronto, Larry Lowenstein defended Chevron (as co-counsel with Norton Rose Fulbright) in efforts to enforce in Canada a $9.5bn judgment obtained against Chevron in Ecuador. In Montreal, Sylvain Lussier Ad E is a high-profile litigator and represented Enterprise Rent-a-Car in defeating certification of a class action alleging false advertising. In Calgary, Maureen Killoran QC is a force in energy and natural resources related litigation and advises Kinder Morgan in all challenges to the proposed expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline.

Sizable Toronto boutique Paliare Roland Rosenberg Rothstein LLP fields 34 lawyers dedicated to litigation, with Chris Paliare and Linda Rothstein highlighted as ‘leaders in their field’. The firm’s broad expertise spans commercial litigation, professional discipline, labour disputes and constitutional matters and it also houses a specialist class action group, which regularly prosecutes and defends class actions. Recent highlights include successfully representing the municipality of Port Hope in a significant trust fund case.

Peacock Linder Halt & Mack LLP is regarded as a key player in the Calgary market, where it is particularly sought after for advice relating to energy, securities and insurance-related disputes. Peter Linder QC (‘very tenacious’) and Perry Mack QC (‘great judgment’) are both seasoned litigators.

Vancouver-based Robert Fleming Lawyerspunches above its weight’ and receives its first ranking off the back of its involvement in several significant matters. Robbie Fleming is a ‘committed and effective counsel’ and heads a firm that is ‘fearless in taking creative approaches to challenging cases’. In a recent high-profile matter, the firm successfully represented Equustek against Google in a case that ruled the tech giant should remove certain websites from search results.

Extremely strong in Montreal’, Stikeman Elliott LLP also fields a ‘sophisticated practice’ in Toronto, and the national group benefits further from solid platforms in Vancouver and Calgary. Among its recent Montreal highlights, Éric Azran and Patrick Girard successfully represented Aviva in a high-profile case concerning litigation privilege. Toronto is the seat of national litigation co-chair David Byers, who is defending British American Tobacco in multibillion-dollar healthcare recovery actions brought by various Canadian provinces. Also in Toronto, class actions heavyweight Katherine Kay is acting for Apotex in the defence of a proposed class action relating to a diabetes medication. David Brown is a key contact in Vancouver and successfully represented the City of Vancouver in defending its recently enacted heritage conservation protection regime. Other key names include Toronto’s Peter Howard, Calgary’s Geoffrey Holub and Louis Bélanger and Yves Martineau in Montreal.

Litigation specialist Stockwoods LLP Barristers handles a diverse mix of civil and commercial litigation, administrative disputes and criminal law. Paul Le Vay is a key contact and is recommended for his track record in securities litigation and malpractice actions. The Toronto-based firm successfully represented the Hamlet of Clyde River in its appeal before the Supreme Court of Canada in a case clarifying the duty to consult.

At Vancouver-based Sugden, McFee & Roos, founding partner Robin McFee QC has a strong reputation for corporate and commercial litigation and labour and employment disputes. David Crossin QC is the key contact for criminal defence work and is also recommended.

Commercial, creative, collaborative’, Torys impresses with its ‘strong ability to always see the big picture’. High-profile figure Sheila Block is a ‘phenomenal litigator’ and a ‘top choice for "bet-the-farm" litigation’; she teamed up with James Tory, Andrew Gray and Crawford Smith to represent CIBC in a securities class action alleging it did not properly disclose its exposure to the US residential mortgages market during the credit crisis. Patricia Jackson is ‘the best of the best’ and with Gray is defending Essar Global Fund in a $150m oppression claim. Linda Plumpton is also recommended and with Jackson acted for Manulife and Industrial Alliance in two related applications concerning the interpretation of universal life insurance policies. In 2017, the firm boosted its Montreal offering with the hire of Christopher Richter from Woods LLP. In 2017, senior partner John Laskin was appointed a judge of the Federal Court of Appeal.

Litigation is mainstay at WeirFoulds LLP and the firm handles a wide range of securities litigation, corporate disputes, contentious insolvencies and public law matters. Managing partner Michael Statham advised Trillium Motor World in bringing a professional negligence case against a law firm.

Montreal boutique Woods LLP concentrates exclusively on litigation, arbitration and insolvency matters under the leadership of pre-eminent name partner James Woods Ad E. Highlights included successfully obtaining the dismissal of an application to authorise a class action against its client Vidéotron.

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