The 2020 Who’s Who in Canadian Law Firms:

Serving Clients in Canada, the US, and Globally

By Lexpert

New for 2020

The bull’s-eye charts here have been updated since they were first published in December 2019 in The 2020 Lexpert®/American Lawyer Guide to the Leading 500 Lawyers in Canada. This update reflects transfers of ranked lawyers from one firm to another since that time.

Please Note

We maintain a separation between editorial (which includes the surveys and rankings) and advertising. The names of all lawyers, which result from the survey conducted by Lexpert®, are published at no charge whether or not they or their firms purchase advertising in any of our publications.

The biographies of the ranked lawyers are purchased by the firms that choose to do so. The firm profiles are also purchased. Lawyers advertising and communicating regarding Lexpert® rankings and awards should follow their governing law societies’ rules and regulations concerning advertising, communications, and third-party rankings and awards. Compliance with these rules and regulations is the sole responsibility of lawyer and entity members of their governing law societies.

Being ranked in a Lexpert® publication one year does not guarantee that a lawyer or firm will be ranked the following year. We conduct annual surveys, and there is significant change from one year to the next in the subsequent rankings—to both individual lawyers and firms.

Canadian Legal Talent

Firm Rankings

The bull’s-eye charts and text that follow are a guide to identifying legal talent as recognized in peer surveys in support of this 2020 edition of The Canadian Legal Lexpert® Directory and its sister publication, The 2020 Lexpert®/American Lawyer Guide to the Leading 500 Lawyers in Canada. The survey work uses peer reviews to identify which counsel the Canadian legal profession regards as the top lawyers in various practice areas. Moreover, law firm positions in the bull’s-eye charts depend on the cumulative recognition their individual lawyers have achieved in these surveys.

More particularly, the formula for the bull’s-eye charts is as follows:

  • 1.5 points for each lawyer in the “Most Frequently Recommended” tier in any of the relevant practice areas in the 2020 edition of The Canadian Legal Lexpert® Directory or The Lexpert®/American Lawyer Guide to the Leading 500 Lawyers in Canada;
  • 0.75 points for each lawyer in the “Consistently Recommended” tier in any of the relevant practice areas in the 2020 edition of The Canadian Legal Lexpert® Directory;
  • 0.5 points for each lawyer in the “Repeatedly Recommended” tier in any of the relevant practice areas in the 2020 edition of The Canadian Legal Lexpert® Directory;

If one lawyer appears in multiple practice areas, the calculation is treated as if it were for more than one lawyer.

The Method behind the Rankings

The identification of leading practitioners and firms is based upon comprehensive survey work across the country, which has been ongoing since 1994. The process targets lawyers acknowledged as leaders in their respective fields, lawyers prominent in professional organizations, and lawyers otherwise enjoying significant recognition from their colleagues.

Certain surveys also canvass in-house counsel. Again this year, in-house counsel were formally surveyed in the following practice areas: Banking; Computer & IT Law; Corporate Commercial Law; Corporate Finance & Securities; Litigation – Corporate Commercial; Litigation – Intellectual Property; Mergers & Acquisitions; and Property Development.

On our surveys, Lexpert® sets out a list of the lawyers represented in the previous year’s directories, with room for write-in votes. Lawyers on the list who garner insufficient votes are not named in the surveys in the following year, while write-ins who receive appropriate support do appear as named nominees on the following year’s surveys.

The surveying does not proceed by way of random, unsolicited mailings. Lexpert® follows up on unanswered surveys and conducts personal interviews with senior members of the profession.

These methods have produced a consistently high response rate. In preparation for this edition, Lexpert® made 16,466 requests for completed surveys from lawyers at law firms, and 6,874 additional requests were sent to corporate counsel. We received 12,859 completed surveys from law firm practitioners representing a response rate of 78 per cent. Our response rate from corporate counsel was 1.19 per cent.

An Evolving Approach

In keeping with extensive consultations conducted with stakeholders over the past year, Lexpert® has revised certain of the practice groups embraced by its various rankings to accord with the realities of an evolving legal market. Accordingly, the text that goes with each chart has at its outset a listing of the practice groups included in the surveys for the particular ranking.

It is important to remember that these changes reflect the market as it is today. Our rankings do change and evolve, year after year.

Lexpert® will continue with its consultations on an ongoing basis in 2020, and beyond, to ensure that the bull’s-eye charts continue to reflect an accurate picture of the legal marketplace.

There are also elements of editorial discretion applied to the rankings and the bull’s-eye charts. This is applied in a principled approach, with tested market knowledge. So, for example:

If there have been several lawyers who have made lateral moves from a firm, notwithstanding that they were individually ranked at the time of the surveys, we have updated the overall firm results in the bull’s-eye charts to reflect the new situation. Also, if we have been informed that someone has retired, we remove their name from the relevant rankings.

Discretion is applied in determining the levels of ranking among Most Frequently, Consistently, and Repeatedly Recommended—we attempt to draw the lines between identifiable clusters within the vote numbers. Every year there seem to be new competitors who are in some cases tied with individual lawyers at established firms.

Select a Practice Area:
Source: The Canadian Legal Lexpert® Directory 2020 

Lexpert® practice groups included in this category are:

  • Commodity Tax/Customs
  • Corporate Tax
  • Litigation — Corporate Tax
Tax Lawyers Who’s Who: Toronto

Osler is in the centre of the bull’s-eye chart. They are followed by Blakes; Torys; McCarthy Tétrault; and Goodmans. In the next circle are Stikeman Elliott; Thorsteinssons LLP; Millar Kreklewetz LLP; Davies; and Bennett Jones.

Tax Lawyers Who’s Who: Montréal

Davies is in the centre of the bull’s-eye chart, followed by Osler; Stikeman Elliott; and Norton Rose Fulbright. In the next circle are McCarthy Tétrault; EY Law LLP; Fasken; and KPMG Law LLP.

Tax Lawyers Who’s Who: Vancouver

Thorsteinssons is in the bull’s-eye centre this year, followed by Bennett Jones; Blakes; Dentons; Fasken; and Miller Thomson.

Tax Lawyers Who’s Who: Calgary

Tax boutique Felesky Flynn LLP leads, followed by Osler; Bennett Jones; Blakes; PwC Law LLP; and Norton Rose Fulbright.