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Canada > Tax > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings

Editorial

Index of tables

  1. Tax
  2. Leading lawyers
  3. Next generation lawyers

Leading lawyers

  1. 1

Next generation lawyers

  1. 1
    • Carl Hinzmann - Gowling WLG
    • Jeffrey Shafer - Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP

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Extremely strong tax firmBlake, Cassels & Graydon LLP excels in all the core tax areas, with specialist expertise in M&A, resource taxation, restructurings, transfer pricing and litigation. Toronto-based group lead Jeffrey Trossman is a ‘creative and strategic specialist’ and acted for an acquisition vehicle co-owned by Sagard Capital and Fairfax Financial on the $575m acquisition of assets from Performance Sports Group. Also in Toronto, ‘rising star’ Jeffrey Shafer advised DP World on its partnership with CDPQ to create a C$5bn investment platform to invest in ports and terminals around the world – DP World will hold a 55% stake in the platform. The Calgary office also had a strong year, handling a string of headline deals during 2016/07. Most notably, ‘fantastic younger partner’ Carrie Aiken advised TransCanada on the $13bn acquisition of Columbia Pipeline Group. Also, Robert Kopstein acted for ExxonMobil in its $2.5bn acquisition of InterOil. On the contentious side, Toronto- and Vancouver-based tax litigation head Edwin Kroft QC successfully represented CBS Canada Holdings in a case concerning the deductibility of non-capital losses. Paul Tamaki, Kathleen Penny and transfer pricing expert Scott Wilkie are also recommended in Toronto.

At the top of the tax field’, Davies Ward Phillips & Vineberg LLP is revered for its ‘tremendous foresight in planning corporate structure’, its ‘deep understanding of cross-border issues’ and its ‘exemplary professionalism, dedication and expertise’. The Canadian team, which shines in both transactional and contentious matters, is split between the firm’s Toronto and Montreal offices. It also benefits from a well-staffed platform in New York, attracting a steady stream of US cross-border matters. In Toronto, the ‘super knowledgeable’ John Ulmer ‘exceeds expectations’, and led the firm’s advice to RioCan REIT on the Canadian and US tax aspects of the $1.9bn sale of its portfolio of 49 shopping centres to Blackstone Real Estate Partners. Ian Crosbie is an ‘expert in his field’ and advised Raymond James Financial on its acquisition of Canadian private wealth manager MacDougall, MacDougall & MacTier. The Toronto group also includes the ‘brilliant, practical, approachable and responsive’ Raj Juneja and the ‘supremely experienced and diligent’ Elie Roth. In Montreal, Guy Du Pont Ad E is ‘absolutely excellent on litigation strategy’ and is representing several taxpayers who participated in the Synergy program in their dispute with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) over the deductibility of related losses. Montreal tax chair Brian Bloom is ‘incredible in orchestrating complex structures to ensure best possible tax treatment for shareholders in Canada and the US’.

Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP’s ‘extremely creative’ team is highlighted as both a ‘leader in sophisticated tax transactions’ and ‘unrivalled in tax litigation’. Group co-chair Firoz Ahmed has a strong profile in the market and with Dov Begun advised Whistler Blackcomb Holdings on its C$1.4bn acquisition by Vail Resorts. Monica Biringer jointly chairs the practice and with Gregory Wylie acted for Target Canada on the tax aspects of the wind-down of its Canadian operations, which involved the establishment of an employee trust to ensure employees received a minimum of 16 weeks’ compensation. Patrick Marley is noted for his international tax expertise and advised Procter & Gamble on a split-off transaction, whereby P&G transferred the assets and liabilities of P&G Specialty Beauty Brands to its wholly owned subsidiary Galleria. On the contentious side, universal praise is levelled at star litigator Al Meghji, who is ‘simply beyond compare’; he played a lead role in the firm’s advice to Loblaw Financial Holdings in an appeal relating to the definition of ‘investment business’ in the Income Tax Act. Richard Tremblay has an eminent reputation for transfer pricing matters and with Meghji is representing Cameco in a case concerning the ‘recharacterization’ transfer pricing provisions of the Income Tax Act. Calgary-based Edward Rowe is also a key contact. All named partners are based in Toronto except where otherwise stated.

Goodmans’ tax team provides ‘outstanding service in all regards’, say clients, who highlight its ‘great breadth of expertise’ and ‘dedicated senior partners’. Mitchell Sherman is ‘a cut above’ and with group head Carrie Smit advised Spectra Energy on the tax aspects of its C$37bn acquisition by Enbridge. The ‘strategic and creative’ Jon Northup is also highly regarded and advised Milestone Apartments REIT on the tax aspects of its going-private transaction through its $3.9bn acquisition by an affiliate of Starwood Capital Group. The department is also well known for its strength in restructuring-related tax issues and Smit advised Postmedia Network Canada on the tax aspects of its recapitalization transaction. Jarrett Freeman and Alan Bowman are also recommended.

McCarthy Tétrault’s national tax department, which comprises platforms in Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto and Montreal, is skilled in M&A, reorganizations, financial products and REITs matters. M&A-related issues are a particular sweet spot and respected Toronto-based partner Gabrielle Richards advised Fairmont Raffles Hotels International on the tax elements of its $2.6bn acquisition by Accor. On the financial products side, Toronto-based Patrick McCay advised Concert Properties on the C$1bn creation of new limited partnership investment vehicle CREC Commercial Fund LP. The group also benefits from the transactional tax expertise of Frédéric Harvey in Montreal and Douglas Cannon and Nigel Johnston in Toronto. Toronto-based Chia-yi Chua is the key contact for tax litigation.

The ‘knowledgeable and highly experienced’ tax group at Stikeman Elliott LLP is ‘among the best for M&A-related tax issues’. The national department’s broad transactional focus also spans debt and equity financing, transfer pricing and resource taxation. The ‘effective and strategicJohn Lorito heads the group from Toronto and advised Progressive Waste Solutions on the Canadian and US tax aspects of its $13bn acquisition by Waste Connections. He also acted for Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan in its C$1bn acquisition of Constellation Brands Canada. Dean Kraus is an increasingly prominent name in the market and advised DH Corporation on its C$4.8bn acquisition by funds managed by Vista Equity Partners. High-profile senior counsel Ron Durand also handles transactional matters. Additionally, the firm has an active tax litigation practice, which in October 2017 welcomed back Margaret Nixon in Toronto from Deloitte Tax Law LLP. Pierre-Louis Le Saunier joined the tax group in Montreal.

Bennett Jones LLP has experience in the full spread of tax matters and is highly regarded for its niche expertise in commodity tax. In Calgary, department co-chair Darcy Moch is singled out for his ‘rare skill set’ in that ‘he has extensive corporate tax expertise but can also handle personal tax and estate tax issues’. Moch advised Riverstone Investment Group on its $500m acquisition of a 50% ownership interest in the Utopia Pipeline Project from Kinder Morgan. Toronto-based group co-chair Thomas Bauer advised Columbia Pipeline on the Canadian tax aspects of its $13bn acquisition by TransCanada. Toronto managing partner Stephen Bowman is also recommended for transactional issues, while Calgary-based Robert McCue leads the tax litigation practice.

Lawyers at Norton Rose Fulbright are commended for their ‘excellent service levels’ and ‘strong attention to detail’. Calgary-based Dion Legge jointly chairs the practice and alongside Darren Hueppelsheuser advised Paramount Resources on its C$2.1bn sale of oil and gas assets to Seven Generations Energy. In Toronto, Adrienne Oliveroffers great insight into the issues associated with doing deals in Canada’ and advised Pacific Exploration & Production on the tax aspects of its restructuring of approximately $5.5bn of debt. Montreal-based department co-lead Dominic Belley is an ‘excellent litigator’ and represented Jean Coutu Group before the Supreme Court of Canada in a precedent-setting rectification case. The group also includes seasoned litigator Wilfrid Lefebvre QC and ‘excellent tax practitionerDerek Chiasson – both are based in Montreal.

Historically seen as a corporate support practice, Torys continues to grow and develop its tax division into a standalone practice. Team head Corrado Cardarelli advised Brookfield Asset Management on the $500m reorganization of the business services and industrial operations of the Brookfield Capital Partners group of entities and their placement in a new publicly traded partnership. On the contentious side, John Tobin represented AGF Management in a significant transfer price dispute. ‘Market-leader’ Jerald Wortsman, senior specialist John Unger and litigator Martha MacDonald are also recommended.

The ‘very knowledgeable and timely’ team at Borden Ladner Gervais LLP is held in high esteem for its ‘ability to summarize all pertinent issues for the client’ and for its ‘excellent value-to-fee ratio’. Steve Suarez is a key name in Toronto and advised Cynapsus Therapeutics on its $635m acquisition by Sunovion Pharmaceuticals under the CBCA. In Montreal, Joseph Takhmizdjian is ‘rapid, precise and provides detailed feedback’ and acted for social and mobile games business Playtika on the Canadian tax aspects of its $4.4bn acquisition by Alpha Frontier. Toronto-based Stephen Fyfe is also recommended for tax transactions.

Calgary firm Burnet Duckworth & Palmer LLP excels in resource taxation and sources place it ‘at the forefront of energy-related tax issues’. Heather DiGregorio jointly chairs the practice and advised on the tax aspects of a string of major deals over the past year, including acting for Tourmaline Oil in its C$1.3bn acquisition of strategic assets from Shell Canada, and assisting Canadian Natural Resources with its C$1.8bn note offering. John Brussa is a ‘dean of the Alberta tax bar’.

Dentons impresses on the tax litigation side, where it is involved in resolving disputes at all levels of government. Among the names to note, Calgary-based tax department manager Jehad Haymour is regarded as an authority on energy-related tax disputes, while Vancouver’s Joel Nitikman is recommended for provincial income and commodity tax litigation. The firm is also active in transactional matters.

Fasken Martineau DuMoulin LLP continues to build its contentious tax offering and in 2016 hired tax litigator Jenny Mboutsiadis into its Toronto office – she joins from the tax law services division at the Department of Justice. Calgary’s Curtis Stewart is a sought-after tax litigator and represented Total Energy Services in a GAAR-related case. On the transactional side, Montreal-based Alain Ranger is a key name and advised Groupe St-Hubert on the tax aspects of its acquisition by Cara Operations. The mining, energy and financial services sectors are also key sources of work.

From its bases in Calgary, Edmonton and Saskatoon, Felesky Flynn LLP practises exclusively in tax matters, including tax planning, corporate support and tax litigation. Calgary-based Brent Perry is highly recommended for transactional tax, particularly finance and M&A-related matters, but he also has significant litigation experience. Seasoned specialist Sandra Jack QC also has a strong profile in the Calgary market.

The ‘diligent and responsive’ group at Gowling WLG is noted for international tax, private equity, transfer pricing, indigenous tax issues and contentious matters. Recent work includes Michael Bussmann and group lead John Sorensen successfully representing Jaguar Land Rover Canada in litigation against the CRA. ‘Exceptional’ associate Carl Hinzmann is ‘very intelligent and quickly gets up to speed in areas in which he is not familiar’. All named lawyers are based in Toronto.

Simply the best technically’, specialist tax firm Thorsteinssons LLP impresses with its ‘deep knowledge and experience in the area’. Toronto-based managing partner Michael Colborne is recognized for his strong expertise in the mining space, and has advised both taxpayers and governments on tax policy matters relating to the industry. ‘Fantastic lawyer’ Brandon Wiener is recommended for personal, corporate and trust planning for high-net-worth individuals.

Aird & Berlis LLP has a strong track record in M&A-related matters and also shines in estates and trusts, cross-border matters and tax litigation. Barbara Worndl heads the tax team and advised Allied Properties REIT on the tax aspects of its C$200m public offering. International tax chair Jack Bernstein is also recommended.

Baker McKenzie is well known for its strength in contentious matters, with ‘market-leader’ Jacques Bernier hailed as a ‘formidable litigator’. The firm has recently acted on cases concerning anti-avoidance, transfer pricing and provincial sales tax, among others.

Extremely clued up in industry matters’, EY Law LLP is regarded as a ‘strong performer in the tax area’. Among the names to note, Montreal’s Angelo Nikolakakis is highly regarded for transactional tax, while Ottawa-based senior counsel Roger Taylor is a high-profile name for litigation.

McMillan LLP’s tax group receives a steady stream of work from clients in the financial, automotive, pharmaceutical and natural resources industries. Toronto-based Todd Miller co-chairs the practice and advised Thomas Bravo on the Canadian tax aspects of its C$1.5bn acquisition of Trader Corp. Group co-chair Michael Friedman is also a respected name in Toronto.

PwC Law LLP’s tax practice is split between its Toronto, Montreal and Calgary offices and advises on a wide range of M&A, restructuring, international tax, commodity tax and contentious matters. Toronto-based Elizabeth Johnson is recommended for her strong expertise in partnership taxation and Canada’s anti-avoidance rules.

Recent work for Cassels Brock & Blackwell LLP includes Calgary-based Douglas Richardson advising TransCanada Trust as Canadian tax counsel on its C$1.5bn offering of trust notes.

The ‘very knowledgeable and responsive’ team at DLA Piper (Canada) LLP is ‘excellent in all areas’, according to clients. Toronto-based Kevin Fritz advised Partners Group on the Canadian tax aspects of its C$272m acquisition of Axia NetMedia.

Miller Thomson acts on a broad mix of corporate and private client work, and also has niche expertise in the not-for-profit sector. Calgary-based William Fowlis QC is a key tax contact and advised Plains Oil on its acquisition by Alstar Oilfield Contractors.

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