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The ‘go-to environmental law group’ at Bennett Jones LLP commands respect for its ‘first-class client service’ and ‘practical and timely advice’. Sources hail Toronto-based Leonard Griffiths as ‘the best environmental lawyer in Canada’, who has ‘extraordinary capabilities’ and a ‘results-oriented approach’. Among the other names to note, in Calgary, regulatory head Brad Gilmour is ‘very strong’ and Shawn Munro is ‘first class for regulatory affairs’. In Vancouver, David Bursey and the newly promoted Radha Curpen are key contacts. The firm’s deep bench, which is well distributed between Alberta, Ontario and British Columbia, comprises lawyers with diverse skill sets, ensuring that it acts on a wide spread of projects, risk management and remediation issues. Among other matters, the group acted as counsel to the Federal Review Panel on the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act review of the Taseko New Prosperity mine project – and on the subsequent judicial review.

Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP is noted by clients for its ‘high level of expertise’ in environmental law and the group provides ‘great support on major projects’. Toronto-based national group lead Jonathan Kahn is ‘very well informed and client-focused’ and led the advice to Suncor Energy in the C$1.1bn sale of its Petro-Canada Lubricants division to HollyFrontier. Kahn also successfully represented CRH Canada in a hearing before a joint panel of the Ontario Municipal Board and the Environmental Review Tribunal to obtain approval of a significant dolomite mine in Southern Ontario. Charles Kazaz, who splits his time between Montreal and Toronto, is highly regarded for mining-related issues; he is advising the Bloom Lake Group and the Wabush Group on the negotiation and allocation of environmental and permitting obligations and liabilities as part of its CCAA restructuring. Calgary’s Dufferin Harper and Vancouver’s Tony Crossman are also key names.

Top-of-the-classDavies Ward Phillips & Vineberg LLP houses an environmental law practice that provides ‘outstanding levels of service in all areas’. Among other attributes, the team is praised for its ‘strong knowledge’ and ‘vast and valuable experience’. Although smaller than many of its competitors, the Toronto-based team has deep expertise, and key name Sarah Powell is widely acclaimed as a ‘market leader’. Powell was retained by Torys, counsel to Windstream Energy, to assist in the preparation of expert evidence for arbitration proceedings commenced by Windstream against the Canadian government. Alexandria Pike is a ‘master of her subject area’ and acted with Powell to successfully advise a joint venture between Pattern Renewable Holdings and Samsung Renewable Energy on an Environmental Review Tribunal relating to a 100 MW wind energy project. In 2017, the firm boosted its presence in Montreal with the hire of junior partner Marie-Claude Bellemare, who is highlighted for her ‘great ability to manage cases with lots of moving parts’.

The environmental group at Fasken Martineau DuMoulin LLP distinguishes itself through its ‘good response times’, ‘good client relations skills’ and ‘excellent strength in depth’. The national practice has a broad base of expertise, which spans transactional support matters, contaminated sites and regulatory compliance, however it is particularly noted for its track record in environmental assessment and project permitting. In Toronto, Rosalind Cooper impresses with ‘legal opinions of the highest quality, based on a superior level of subject knowledge’; she provides ongoing advice to Canadian Pacific Railway on environmental issues, including remediation of contaminated sites and environmental permitting and approvals. Paul Wilson is a key contact in Vancouver and is advising TransCanada PipeLines on environmental issues concerning the Prince Rupert Gas Transmission project.

Regarded as ‘one of the leading firms for environmental law in Canada’, Gowling WLG’s national practice is commended for its ‘strong depth of energy and environmental expertise’ and its ‘consistently commercial and strategic advice’. In Toronto, Rodney Northey’s ‘strong knowledge and preparation really impresses’; he is acting for five municipalities seeking to obtain environmental review of Canadian National Railway’s new intermodal facility in the town of Milton. In Calgary, Wally Braul advised Kirby Offshore Marine on an oil spill following the sinking of a tug boat on the west coast of British Columbia. The group also benefits from the expertise of Toronto-based specialists Harry Dahme (‘extremely knowledgeable’) and Mark Madras (‘seasoned partner with bags of experience’).

Experienced and highly knowledgeable’, McCarthy Tétrault’s national environmental law group is appreciated for its ‘excellent case management’. In Vancouver, pre-eminent group co-lead Paul Cassidy is ‘the first name you think of for an environmental file’, and he advised on the environmental aspects of several high-profile projects over the past year. In Toronto, department co-lead Peter Brady advised Bruce Power on the environmental risk assessment aspects of its C$13bn refurbishment of six nuclear reactors. Counsel Pierre Renaud jointly heads the team from Montreal and advised Nouveau Monde Graphite on the environmental issues related to its proposals to open North America’s largest flake graphite mine. Montreal-based rising star Cindy Vaillancourt is also a key name. Toronto-based counsel Douglas Hamilton retired in 2017.

Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP’s national regulatory, environmental, Aboriginal and land group is particularly well represented in Calgary, which is the seat of regulatory heavy-hitter Shawn Denstedt QC. Denstedt is representing TransCanada in obtaining environmental and regulatory approvals for proposed expansions of the NGTL natural gas pipeline system in British Columbia and Alberta. Calgary-based Martin Ignasiak has considerable experience in major projects and is advising Teck Resources on the environmental and Aboriginal law aspects of its Frontier oil sands project. Rising star Terri-Lee Oleniuk is also recommended.

The environmental group at Torys provides ‘fantastic service’, with sources noting its ‘responsive, thoughtful and business-focused lawyers’. Toronto-based Dennis Mahony heads the practice and has a strong track record in renewable energy-related work – he is also experienced in issues relating to the oil and gas, mining and forestry industries. Also in Toronto, Michael Fortier is ‘near the top of the list for complex matters’ and advised on the environmental law aspects of several corporate finance transactions over the past year. Representative clients include American Water Enterprises Group, Canadian National Railway and NextEra Energy Canada.

Boutique firm Willms & Shier Environmental Lawyers LLP exclusively handles environmental, Aboriginal and energy law from its offices in Toronto, Calgary and Ottawa – importantly, it continues to focus on widening its national capability and its team also includes lawyers qualified to practise in British Columbia, New Brunswick, Nunavut and the Northwest Territories. In Toronto, specialist environmental law litigator Marc McAree is recognized as a leader in his field; he successfully defended a wastewater treatment business in a significant environmental due diligence case. Donna Shier is also a key name in Toronto and acts on a diverse mix of transactional matters, with a strong showing in contaminated sites matters. The firm also benefits from an impressive line of associates, including Toronto-based Joanna Vince, who recently acted on a significant contaminated land case.

Led from Vancouver by Rick Williams, Borden Ladner Gervais LLP’s group is ‘excellent in all categories’. The team also includes the ‘very effective’ Adam Chamberlain in Toronto; he advised the Regional Municipality of Durham on the environmental assessment and permitting issues connected to the development of a C$250m energy from waste facility. In 2017, highly rated associate Marie-Claude Bellemare left to join the Montreal office of Davies Ward Phillips & Vineberg LLP as partner.

Dentons’ ‘responsive and knowledgeable’ national group is driven out of Calgary by Alex MacWilliam, and is also represented in the firm’s Edmonton, Toronto, Vancouver, and Montreal offices – the latter of which was significantly bolstered in 2017 with the arrival of counsel Isabelle Blouin, who was formerly in-house at GE Capital. Calgary-based energy regulation specialist Bernard Roth advised Enbridge on a joint federal provincial review of a twin pipeline project.

Known for its expertise in the mining sphere, Lawson Lundell LLP is well versed in the attendant environmental issues. It also routinely advises on energy projects, corporate support matters, contaminated sites and environmental offences. Regulatory heavyweight Brad Armstrong QC and managing partner Clifford Proudfoot are key names - both are based in Vancouver.

Environmental law is a key pillar of McInnes Cooper’s practice and the firm has expertise across the full range of environmental law matters, including assessment processes, contaminated sites and environmental due diligence. Halifax-based Bernard Miller is highly recommended, particularly for his experience in the forestry space.

Among McLennan Ross LLP’s recent cases, it defended Canadian Natural Resources in several environmental prosecutions. It is also representing TransAlta in litigation brought by First Nations relating to a transmission line on reserve lands. Ronald Kruhlak QC and Gavin Fitch QC chair the practice from Edmonton and Calgary respectively.

The ‘very knowledgeableNorton Rose Fulbright scores highly for its ‘strong sector knowledge’ and ability to ‘work seamlessly as part of a multi-disciplinary team’. Department lead Jean Piette Ad E splits his time between Montreal and Quebec and is widely regarded as a leading light; he represented two senior managers on charges of violating a remediation order issued under the federal Fisheries Act following an oil spill. Calgary’s Alan Harvie is also recommended.

Climate change, contaminated sites and compliance matters are among Aird & Berlis LLP’s key areas of work. Scott Stoll recently advised Shahid Khan on the environmental aspects of his acquisition of the Four Seasons Hotel in Toronto.

DLA Piper (Canada) LLP is praised for its ‘deep understanding of business needs’ and its ‘strong practical advice’. Vancouver-based Brian Hiebert is ‘great at explaining regulations in layman’s terms’ and is defending Quantum Murray in an action brought by the owner of a landfill site. Managing partner Robert Seidel QC, who works between the Edmonton and Calgary offices, is also a key name.

The ‘responsive, proactive and technical’ group at Goodmansgoes beyond legal strategy and extends into practical planning’, say clients. Catherine Lyons heads the team and attracts strong praise for her ability to ‘quickly distil complex environmental issues into sub-categories and priorities’. Lyons is acting with Allan Leibel and Anne Benedetti to advise the Toronto Waterfront Revitalization Corporation on the renewal of the Toronto Waterfront.

At Vancouver boutique Letcher Akelaitis LLP, Gary Letcher is singled out as a ‘leader in his field’, with his expertise in contaminated land matters standing out in particular. Andrea Akelaitis also has strong experience in contaminated site issues, as well as odour and waste management.

Miller Thomson has a comprehensive environmental law practice covering both transactional and contentious matters. Highlights included Vaughan-based John Tidball advising GFL Environmental on the environmental and waste management aspects of its acquisition of Envirocan Environmental Services. Toronto-based litigator Tamara Farber is also a key contact.

At Stikeman Elliott LLP, Toronto-based group lead Larry Cobb is ‘immersed in the law’ and is also highlighted for his ‘strong ability to see the business perspective’. The group has a strong transactional emphasis and Cobb advised BWXT Canada on the environmental aspects of its acquisition of GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy Canada.

WeirFoulds LLP has a robust environmental law practice that shines in contentious matters. Litigator John Buhlman has strong experience in appearing before the Environmental Review Tribunal.

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