TOP 25 MOST INFLUENTIAL LAWYERS

  • Aug 8, 2017
    The Top 25 Most Influential 2017

    The Top 25 Most Influential 2017

    Canadian Lawyer’s top 25 Most Influential in the justice system and legal profession in Canada is now in its eighth year. The Top 25 is always the magazine’s most-read and most-commented-on feature. Its popularity — both in terms of the number of nominations we receive as well as the number of votes in the public poll — highlights the engagement and pride in their colleagues that lawyers, judges and others in the legal profession have.

    As we do every year, we put out a call for nominations to legal groups and associations representing a variety of memberships and geographies, last year’s Top 25 honourees, our readership and our internal panel of writers and editors.

  • Aug 1, 2016
    The Top 25 Most Influential 2016

    The Top 25 Most Influential 2016

    Canadian Lawyer’s Top 25 Most Influential in the justice system and legal profession in Canada is now in its seventh year. The Top 25 is always the magazine’s most-read, and most commented-on, feature. Its popularity — both in terms of the number of nominations we received as well as the number of votes in the public poll — highlights the engagement and pride in their colleagues that lawyers, judges, and others in the legal profession have.

    As we do every year, we put out a public call for nominations to legal groups and associations representing a variety of memberships and geographies; last year’s Top 25 honourees; our readership; and our internal panel of writers and editors.

  • Aug 3, 2015
    The Top 25 Most Influential

    The Top 25 Most Influential

    Canadian Lawyer’s Top 25 Most Influential in the justice system and legal profession in Canada is now in its sixth year. Every year, the Top 25 is the magazine’s most-read, and most commented-on, feature. And once again, the number of nominations as well as votes in our public poll show how engaged our readers are in supporting and highlighting their colleagues who are doing extraordinary things both within the profession as well as beyond it.

    As in previous years, we put out a public call for nominations to legal groups and associations representing a variety of memberships and locations; last year’s Top 25 honourees; our readership; and our internal panel of writers and editors.

    We received an incredible 135 nominations, which the internal panel whittled down to the 120 candidates who met our criteria. We then posted that list online and polled our readers for their votes — and you let us know in droves what you thought. The number of voters increased by a third over last year, with 9,105 people participating and commenting on those who they thought made their mark over the past 18 months. The final list of 25 is based on that poll with input and the last word from the Canadian Lawyer editorial panel.

    Being named one of Canadian Lawyer’s Top 25 Most Influential is not just about those who’ve steered the biggest deals or made the most splash on the news pages — although those are a part of it. Closing a big deal, for instance, may not have a substantial impact beyond that particular business or industry. We aim to select lawyers who have been influential within the profession as well as society over the last year and a half — both at home and beyond Canada’s borders. Inclusion in the Top 25 talks to a level of respect, the ability to influence public opinion, and to help shape the laws of this country and others; contribution to the strength and quality of legal services; involvement and impact within the justice community; and social and political influence and involvement.

    The Top 25 is split into five areas of influence with five winners in each of the following categories: government, associations, and non-profits — including courts, public inquiries, and officers of Parliament; changemakers; criminal and human rights law; the world stage; and corporate-commercial law. Nominees were put in the category in which the individual exercised their influence during the time period.

    A number of previous honourees are back this year: perennial winner Supreme Court of Canada Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin; perpetual rabble rouser Rocco Galati, who is intent on making the government actually follow the law; and Louise Arbour, Murray Klippenstein, and Pascal Paradis all in the world stage category.

    For the first time, we have included a write-in candidate. Justice Murray Sinclair, who made the list last year for his contributions as the chairman of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, wasn’t on our list of nominees but with the release of the TRC’s recommendations and executive summary of its hearings, Sinclair’s impact and influence on Canadian society deserved mention.

    There are also some great new additions to the list this year including Omar Khadr’s lawyers Dennis Edney and Nathan Whitling, who are only the second duo to win the honour for their combined accomplishment. Marie Henein, who has had some of the most noteworthy clients this past year including former CBC radio host Jian Ghomeshi, has a very high profile. The changemakers category boasts a slew of new names including fertility law expert Sara Cohen, Crown attorney Allison Dellandrea, law firm re-engineer Mark Tamminga, and Calgary law professor Alice Woolley — all of whom have been instrumental in making change across a wide range of areas.

    This year’s top vote getter was Louise Arbour, who has knocked off McLachlin, who has held that title for most of the Top 25’s six-year run. For the first time in her storied career, Arbour joined a law firm last year becoming counsel in residence at Borden Ladner Gervais LLP in Montreal, where she’s providing strategic counsel as part of the firm’s litigation practice. Voters in the online poll variously described Arbour as “Canada’s legal star abroad,” and an “international superstar.” That sentiment is likely why she was awarded with her own star on Canada’s Walk of Fame recently. One voter went so far as to say Arbour made them “proud to be Canadian.”

    While only 25 of the impressive nominees made the final list, every single one of them made a distinct impact and their accomplishments are many, and varied — not to mention what many of them have done behind the scenes or on a pro bono or volunteer basis. It’s these lawyers and judges from across Canada and many different areas of practice who uphold the greatest ideals of the profession and are worthy of recognition.

    In the following pages, we present the Top 25 Most Influential for 2015. They are listed with the top vote getter in each category first, followed by the others in alphabetical order.
    Want to add your own kudos? Disagree with the choices? Did we miss someone obvious? Post comments below or e-mail to cl.editor@thomsonreuters.com. We’ll be doing it all again next year

     

  • Aug 4, 2014
    The Top 25 Most Influential 2014

    The Top 25 Most Influential 2014

    Canadian Lawyer’s Top 25 Most Influential in the justice system and legal profession is now in its fifth year. The Top 25 is always one of the magazine’s most-read, and most commented-on features. Of course our choices likely won’t meet with universal approval but a little healthy debate among readers is always welcome. Again this year, we used the tried-and-true formula of asking for nominations from legal groups and associations representing a variety of memberships and locations; last year’s Top 25 honourees; our readership; and an internal panel of writers and editors.

    We received almost 120 nominations, which the internal panel whittled down to the 100 candidates who met our criteria. We then posted the list of 100 online and asked our readers to give us their opinions, which they did in spades. An astounding 6,112 people voted and commented on those who they thought were the most influential in the profession over the past 18 months.

  • Aug 5, 2013
    The Top 25 Most Influential

    The Top 25 Most Influential

    The popular Canadian Lawyer Top 25 Most Influential in the justice system and legal profession in Canada is back for the fourth year. The Top 25 is always one of the magazine’s most-read, and most commented-on, features. As expected, not everyone agrees with our choices, but it is always worthwhile to get our readers into the debate. This year, we continued with our tried and true formula of asking for nominations from legal groups and associations representing a variety of memberships and locations; last year’s Top 25 list; our general readership; and our internal panel of writers and editors. We received more than 90 nominations, which the internal panel whittled down to the 85 candidates who met our criteria. We then posted the list online and once again asked our readers to participate, which they did in spades. An astounding 4,636 people voted and commented on those who they thought were the most influential this year. This final list is based on that poll with input and the last word from the internal panel.

    The Top 25 Most Influential is not just about bright stars, big deals, or number of media mentions — although those may play a part. We have endeavoured to select lawyers who have been influential within the profession as well as Canadian society over the last 18 months. Closing a high-worth deal, for instance, doesn’t necessarily have a big impact beyond that particular business or industry. The Top 25 is about a level of respect, the ability to influence public opinion, and help shape the laws of this country; contribution to the strength and quality of legal services; and social and political influence and involvement. It can include regulators and politicians — although former Justice and Public Safety ministers Rob Nicholson and Vict Toews were shut out this year.

  • Aug 6, 2012
    The Top 25 Most Influential

    The Top 25 Most Influential

    The popular Canadian Lawyer Top 25 Most Influential in the justice system and legal profession in Canada is back for the third year. The Top 25 was one of our most-read, and most commented-on, features in both 2010 and 2011. As expected, not everyone agrees with our choices, but it is always worthwhile to get our readers into a debate on such matters. This year, we used the same format as in 2011 asking for nominations from legal groups and associations representing a variety of memberships and locations; winners on last year’s Top 25 list; our general readership; and our internal panel of writers and editors. We received about 75 nominations, which the internal panel then whittled down to just over 50 candidates. We then posted the list online and once again asked our readers to participate, with just under 700 people voting in the poll. The final list is based on that poll with input and the last word from the internal panel.

    The Top 25 Most Influential is not just about bright stars, big deals, or number of media mentions — although those may play a part. We have endeavoured to select lawyers who have been influential within the profession as well as Canadian society over the last 18 months. Closing a high-worth deal, for instance, doesn’t necessarily have a big impact beyond that particular business or industry. The Top 25 is about a level of respect, the ability to influence public opinion, and help shape the laws of this country; contribution to the strength and quality of legal services; and social and political influence and involvement. It can include politicians and regulators who are lawyers.

  • Aug 1, 2011
    The Top 25 Most Influential

    The Top 25 Most Influential

    Canadian Lawyer is back with our second annual list of the Top 25 Most Influential in the justice system and legal profession in Canada. Our inaugural Top 25 was one of our most-read, and most commented-on, features in 2010. As expected, it was controversial and lawyers across the country had lots to say about it. We took heed of the comments and this year put our list together slightly differently, asking for nominations from: legal groups and associations representing a variety of memberships and locations; some winners from last year’s Top 25; our general readership; and our internal panel of writers and editors. We received more than 100 nominations, which the internal panel then whittled down to about 55 candidates. We then posted the list online and once again asked our readers to participate, with more than 1,300 people voting in the poll. The final list is based on that poll with input and the last word from the internal panel.

    The Top 25 Most Influential is not just about bright stars, big deals, or number of media mentions — although those may play a part. What sets our list apart is that we have endeavoured to select the most influential within the profession over the last 18 months. For instance, some lawyers may get the billion-dollar deals but may not have influence in other areas. It’s about respect, ability to influence public opinion, and help shape the laws of this country; contribution to the strength and quality of legal services; and social and political influence and involvement.

  • Aug 3, 2010

    The Top 25 Most Influential

    Love to hate them but lists of the tops in any profession are still compulsive reading. Canadian Lawyer is stepping into the fray with the Top 25 Most Influential in the justice system and legal profession. As this is the first year, our list will undoubtedly be controversial but we are ready to brave the slings and arrows of the profession.

    The Top 25 Most Influential is not just about bright stars, big deals, or number of media mentions — although those may play a part. What sets our list apart is that we have endeavoured to select the most influential within the law over the last 18 months, looking at every area of practice, government, and the judiciary. It’s not about power or influence but both. For instance, some lawyers may get the billion-dollar deals but may not have influence in other areas. Who are behind cutting-edge advocacy and getting the ear of government? The judiciary obviously wields power but who hold positions that really have an impact? It’s about respect, ability to influence public opinion, and help shape the laws of this country; contribution to the strength and quality of legal services; and social and political influence and involvement. It can include politicians and regulators, but only if they are lawyers and are still in the legal field.

    It’s no surprise then that Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin comes in at the No. 1 spot. But close behind are two well-deserving practitioners: James Lockyer and Brian Greenspan. The remaining Top 25, as voted by our esteemed judging panel (see page 39), are then listed in alphabetical order and include lawyers of influence from a variety of spheres.

    There was definitely some spirited debate among our internal and external judges over who to include and disagreement over the final list. As panellist Yves Fortier of Ogilvy Renault LLP notes: “While I certainly agree that the 25 lawyers on this list qualify as 25 of the most influential lawyers in Canada, I cannot subscribe to the conclusion of the panel that they are the ‘top 25 most influential lawyers’ in Canada. In addition, I regret very much the fact that not one lawyer on that list is from Quebec, with the exception of my friend Irwin Cotler, who spends most of his time today in Ottawa. During the process, I put forward names of some Quebec lawyers who, I argued, should be included on any such list. Unfortunately, none were considered worthy of that accolade by my co-judges. I believe that this seriously impairs the credibility of the process and the final rankings.”

    The criteria meant some powerful corporate lawyers were left out as well as former and current politicians, whose influence has waned or who aren’t lawyers. A few others didn’t make it onto the ballot due to timing but deserve a few words. In April, House of Commons Speaker Peter Milliken handed down a well-reasoned ruling on whether the government had breached parliamentary privilege by failure to comply with a Commons’ order that the government must produce uncensored copies of documents in the Afghan detainee affair. He settled the question of whether Parliament is supreme over the government and its ministers, ruling yes it is. As well, former Supreme Court justice John Major’s report into the Air India bombing also had quite an impact and has provided some long-needed closure for the families but also a blueprint for better communication between law enforcement officials as well as ways to investigate and prosecute terrorism.

    But in the end the final list was arrived at democratically. So without further ado, find our list below (or click here to view a quick video).

    Disagree with our choices? Did we miss someone obvious? E-mail your feedback to cleditor@clbmedia.ca or leave a comment at the end of this article. We’ll be doing it all again next year.

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