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  1. Environment
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Who Represents Who

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Always knowledgeable and well prepared’, Bennett Jones LLP is a regular fixture on the most complex environmental files across Canada as well as project development issues and transactional matters. The Calgary-headquartered firm’s prominence in energy-related cases is almost a given but the sizeable national group also demonstrates strong expertise in transport, infrastructure and marine-related matters. In Toronto, department co-head Leonard Griffiths is lauded as a ‘standout expert’ and continues to lead some of the firm's most critical and sensitive cases, with strong experience in the full spread of corporate support, environmental management systems and litigation. Rising star Sarah Gilbert is also recommended in Toronto for her ability to ‘identify issues independently and without input or instruction’. In Calgary, Brad Gilmour, who heads the regulatory department, ‘consistently provides timely, practical and strategic advice’, while environmental co-lead Shawn Munro has a ‘wealth of experience and great rapport with both clients and intervening counsel’. In Vancouver, office managing partner Radha Curpen is ‘best in class’ and senior specialist David Bursey provides ‘calm and rational insights into municipal and provincial political issues’. Representative clients include ATCO Electric, Canadian Natural Resources and Rio Tinto Alcan.

A ‘leader in mining-related issues’, Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP’s ‘very strong’ environmental law group has diverse industry experience across the full spectrum of environmental matters, including project development, environmental investigations and prosecutions, contaminated sites and environmental due diligence. Jonathan Kahn spearheads the group from Toronto and recently advised BluEarth Renewables on the environmental aspects of its acquisition of six renewable energy facilities across Canada from Veresen. Charles Kazaz, who splits his time between Montreal and Toronto, assisted Solutia with the closure and sale of its former chemical manufacturing plant near downtown Montreal. In Calgary, Dufferin Harper is a key contact and advised Agrium on the environmental aspects of the purchase and sale of several industrial facilities located throughout Canada and the US. The group’s ‘extremely deep bench’ also includes Vancouver-based Tony Crossman and the ‘fantastic’ up-and-coming partner Terri-Lee Oleniuk, who recently joined the Calgary office from Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP.

Among Davies Ward Phillips & Vineberg LLP’s key attributes, sources commend its ‘top-notch responsiveness’ and ‘great judgement and analysis’. The group, which is split between the firm’s Toronto and Montreal offices, routinely advises on infrastructure and resource development, contaminated site issues and environmental due diligence — for a broad roster of mining, power, manufacturing and institutional investor clients. In Toronto, Sarah Powell ‘knows how to instantly impress a tough crowd’ and Alexandria Pike is ‘highly skilled and knowledgeable’; together they are advising Henvey Inlet Wind on a joint venture partnership for a wind energy project on the lands of Henvey Inlet First Nation, including a transmission line that crosses two other First Nation reserves. Marie-Claude Bellemare, who recently joined in Montreal from Borden Ladner Gervais LLP, is an ‘extremely strong senior lawyer’.

FASKEN’s group impresses with its ‘broad practice scope’ and ‘extensive national coverage’. The firm’s signature strength in mining matters ensures it is particularly sought after for environmental issues in that sphere but it also packs a punch in the energy, real estate, transportation, aquaculture and manufacturing sectors. Toronto-based Rosalind Cooper is a ‘force in the market’ and successfully defended CP Rail in a prosecution under the Environmental Protection Act concerning an alleged failure to report a spill. In Vancouver, Kevin O’Callaghan represented fish farming company, Cermaq Canada, in a court challenge to the environmental regulations relating to the transfer of fish. Vancouver-based energy specialist Ron Ezekiel and ‘very strong’ Montreal-based environmental expert Pierre-Olivier Charlebois are also key contacts.

The ‘very dynamic’ group at Gowling WLG is lauded for its ‘great bench strength’ and ‘strong experience at top level’ — its senior expertise was augmented in 2017 with the hire of ‘super partner’ Toronto-based Adam Chamberlain from Borden Ladner Gervais LLP. Other key figures in Toronto are seasoned specialist Harry Dahme; ‘thought-leader’ Rodney Northey; high-profile expert Mark Madras; and ‘future star’ Jennifer Danahy. In Vancouver, environmental litigator Wally Braul is a key contact. The group brings to bear a strong record in contentious matters, environmental assessments and regulatory strategy and it also advises on project development, environmental due diligence and climate change. Highlights included advising Kitikmeot Inuit Association as co-proponents on a deep-water port on the Arctic Ocean as well as an all-season road across Nunavut.

McCarthy Tétrault ‘sets itself apart through its broad national presence’, which sees high-profile names dispersed across its Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal and Calgary offices. The practice, which has strong experience in contentious and non-contentious matters, handles the full spread of related issues, including project development, contaminated site matters, environmental litigation and transactional support. Vancouver-based group co-head Paul Cassidy is ‘one of the best environmental specialists in the country’ and advised Neptune Bulk Terminals on its permitting strategy for the Port Metro Vancouver expansion. Peter Brady, who jointly leads the group from Toronto, is advising Bruce Power on the environmental risk assessments related to its refurbishment of six nuclear reactors. In Montreal, Cindy Vaillancourt is ‘excellent’.

Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP is valued for ‘knowing when a deep dive into the law is necessary or when things can be done more cost-effectively’. The team, which is mainly split between Calgary and Toronto, is particularly well versed in project development-related matters and it also handles environmental litigation and due diligence. In Calgary, regulatory heavyweight Shawn Denstedt QC ‘takes time to understand the business implications’. Denstedt jointly chairs the national practice alongside Calgary-based Martin Ignasiak; together they advised De Beers Canada on all environmental permitting issues concerning the new Gahcho Kué diamond mine. The team is also assisting De Beers with the ongoing management of the Snap Lake Mine. In Toronto, ‘very capable’ up-and-coming partner Jennifer Fairfax represented Rowbry Holdings in a C$10m contaminated lands claim.

Responsive and highly commercial’, Torys LLP’s Toronto-based environmental law group distinguishes itself through its broad industry focus, with recent strong showings in the energy and natural resources, infrastructure, transport and real estate sectors. The team is also well known for its strong combination of transactional and litigation expertise, ensuring that it lands plum roles in a diverse spread of project development, environmental due diligence and high-stakes contentious matters. In addition, it houses a robust climate change practice. Dennis Mahony heads the team and represented a string of clients in highly contested cases over the past year. Highlighted as a ‘quiet leader’, Michael Fortier is a ‘real asset to the bar’ and advised a major power company on permitting matters. Representative clients include Canadian National Railway, Canadian Tire and Union Gas.

Prominent boutique Willms & Shier Environmental Lawyers LLP has a specialist environmental law practice, which is spread between the firm’s offices in Toronto, Ottawa and Calgary. The group, which benefits from the expertise of several specialist teams handling Aboriginal law, environmental law, energy law and litigation, routinely handles prosecution defence, corporate due diligence, contaminated site issues, brownfields strategy and environmental assessments. Toronto-based co-managing partner Marc McAree has a strong profile in the market for contentious matters and successfully defended a wastewater treatment business in an environmental due diligence case. In another high-profile file, Toronto’s Julie Abouchar defended a manufacturing client on various charges following an incident at one of its facilities. Toronto-based Donna Shier and Calgary-based co-managing partner John Georgakopoulos are also names to note.

Borden Ladner Gervais LLP demonstrates a ‘strong ability to get results’, according to satisfied clients. The group, which is led from Vancouver by Rick Williams, is active across a wide range of commercial transactions, regulatory compliance, risk management and contentious matters. Other key names include Toronto-based litigator Gabrielle Kramer, who is ‘effective, knowledgeable and articulate’.

Dentons leverages its skill sets in Aboriginal law, corporate and regulatory to provide a comprehensive environmental law offering. Calgary-based specialist Alex G MacWilliam heads the practice and represented Orkin Canada in defending a prosecution under Alberta, Ontario and federal environmental pesticide legislation. Calgary-based regulatory expert Bernard J Roth is also recommended.

Western Canadian firm Lawson Lundell LLP has a capable environmental law practice, which is largely split between its Vancouver and Calgary offices. In Vancouver, Brad Armstrong QC is recognized as a leading expert in the area and regularly advises on project development, regulatory approvals and assessments. In Calgary, John Olynyk is a key contact.

McLennan Ross LLP handles a steady stream of energy and natural resources-related files — it is particularly strong in power projects — and it also has robust experience in marine, agriculture and manufacturing-related issues. Edmonton-based litigator Ronald Kruhlak QC is highly regarded for contentious matters.

Norton Rose Fulbright secures praise for its ‘strong industry knowledge and deep teams’. Particularly lauded as a ‘leader in Quebec’, the department is also represented in Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia. Group lead Jean Piette Ad E, who splits his time between Montreal and Quebec City, has ‘unparalleled environmental knowledge’; he paired up with ‘very strong environmental litigator’ François Fontaine, Ad E to defend a steel company against charges brought by Environment and Climate Change Canada.

Stikeman Elliott LLP’s group regularly advises on the environmental aspects of major corporate deals and is also active in litigation, brownfield development and climate change issues. Toronto-based department lead Larry Cobb recently advised on the environmental assessment of a major landfill. Project development co-head Patrick Duffy has a significant environmental element to his practice and advised Dominion Diamond on its proposals to expand its existing Ekati Mine.

Aird & Berlis LLP’s environmental group has a solid record in real estate, mining, manufacturing and power-related matters. Scott Stoll is a key contact and routinely defends municipalities and industrial clients in environmental prosecutions.

Solution-oriented and cost-effective’, DLA Piper (Canada) LLP’s group is a ‘pleasure to work with’, according to sources. Toronto’s Lana Finney — highlighted as ‘pragmatic, responsive and commercial’ — is advising Imperial Oil in contaminated lands litigation. The group also includes managing partner Robert Seidel QC, who is based between the Edmonton and Calgary offices.

At Goodmans, Catherine Lyons is revered for her ‘incredible knowledge, negotiation skills and commitment’. Lyons heads a practice that is hailed as a ‘top choice for large transactions with complex environmental issues’ — it also advises on permitting matters, environmental prosecutions and brownfield redevelopment. Recent work includes advising Symesbridge on the revitalization of an industrial property.

Niche specialist Letcher Akelaitis LLP focuses exclusively on environmental law from its Vancouver base and is best known for its expertise in contaminated site issues. Recycling and waste management, environmental assessment litigation and air contaminant matters are also areas of experience. Gary Letcher is widely regarded as a market leader. Andrea Akelaitis is also recommended.

Environmental law is a mainstay at McInnes Cooper and the firm’s extensive footprint throughout Atlantic Canada ensures that it is routinely engaged on energy, aquaculture, real estate and agribusiness-related matters. Halifax-based energy and natural resources lead Michael Simms also handles environmental and health and safety matters.

Miller Thomson’s broad environmental law practice is well balanced between transactional support, regulatory matters and litigation. Over the past year, Vaughan-based John Tidball advised GFL Environmental on the environmental aspects of several deals, including its acquisition of Smithrite Disposal and Carney's Waste Systems.

Montreal-based Sheahan LLP is a compact boutique, which secures superlative praise due to the sterling reputation of senior partner Anne-Marie Sheahan, who is a ‘star in the environmental law area’. The group handles a broad remit of environmental counselling, regulatory matters and litigation.

WeirFoulds LLP has a strong track record in advising on major environmental incidents. On a day-to-day basis, it is active in industrial contamination cases, waste management matters and project development. Litigator John Buhlman is a key contact.

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