Blakes takes top spot in Thomson Reuters/Acritas Canadian law firm brand survey for seventh year

Legal-service buyers are looking for more ‘future-looking advice’ as business operations change

Blakes takes top spot in Thomson Reuters/Acritas Canadian law firm brand survey for seventh year
Bryson Stokes is the managing partner of Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP.

In Thomson Reuters’ Regional Law Firm Brand Indexes 2021, Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP has taken the number 1 spot in the Canada index for the seventh year in a row, followed by McCarthy Tétrault LLP and Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP.

“This award is particularly meaningful to us because it reflects input from senior corporate leaders across Canada and internationally – including many of our clients,” Blakes managing partner Bryson Stokes told Canadian Lawyer in an email.

“Our teams are operating at an extraordinarily high level during challenging times, and our clients know that our commitment to understanding their business and delivering results is unwavering,” he said. “We are grateful for their feedback and their continuing trust in Blakes.”

The Canada Law Firm Brand Index 2021 ranks firms in Canada that are top-of-mind and most used for litigation, M&A and other high-value work, based on interviews with 253 senior legal buyers in Canada and 100 non-Canada based senior legal buyers. 

This is the first year the survey results have been released under Thomson Reuters’ banner, since the multinational media and legal information company acquired Acritas in November 2019. The Canadian index was first released in 2012 and has been released internationally since 2007.

The top 10 Canadian firms in 2021 were (in ranked order):

  • Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP
  • McCarthy Tétrault LLP
  • Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP
  • Norton Rose Fulbright Canada LLP
  • Stikeman Elliott LLP
  • Torys LLP
  • Fasken Martineau DuMoulin LLP
  • Dentons Canada LLP
  • Borden Ladner Gervais LLP
  • Gowling WLG (Canada) LLP         

Of note this year is that Stikeman Elliott moved into the top 5, and Gowlings regained its position in the top 10, says Genna Stainforth, a Market Insights & Thought Leadership manager at Thomson Reuters, based in London, England.

“The firms who’ve made it into the top 5 are really standing out for the unprecedented quality that they delivered to their clients; that’s crucial to building recognition in markets.”

Genna Stainforth, Thomson Reuters

Corporate relationships with law firms become even more entrenched than in the previous year, and in Canada the legal market is very condensed, she says.

“There is a lot of consolidation at the top end of the market, and I think for [Canadian] firms -- more so than we see in the U.S. or in the U.K. -- the challenge for growth is less about those green-field opportunities, but how can we expand the relationships with the clients that we currently have?” says Stainforth, including across more practice areas.

In the past 12 months, buyers of legal services have been looking not only for the advice they’ve always sought, but for new advice in the face of an unprecedented global pandemic.

As the world begins to head out of the pandemic, there’s a shift in how businesses are looking to work with their law firms through the year ahead, with “much more emphasis on future-looking advice, helping them scan the horizon, rather than just answering the questions as they are in that moment,” says Stainforth.

“There is a need to really support clients, not just in a single practice area, but to be a firm that is able to support across all of a client's business challenges,” so that when a law firm is providing advice “it's much more rooted in the aims, challenges and goals of that particular business,” rather than simply taking, say, a siloed M&A, litigation or regulatory perspective on the work, she says.

“I am proud of our teams who continue to innovate and anticipate our clients’ needs at the highest level – even in the midst of a pandemic,” said Blakes’ managing partner Stokes. “We will continue to take an integrated, collaborative approach to our relationships, putting forward the best lawyers for the job and involving our next-generation lawyers to ensure continuity.”

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