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Canadian Lawyer announces the Top Criminal Law Boutiques of 2024–25, a venerable group of legal victors voted to the top by the magazine’s readers.
The award-winning criminal law firms were selected from 52 nominees, a testament to Canada’s burgeoning prowess of legal minds pushing the boundaries of complex and emerging law issues.
As evidenced by the work of the outstanding criminal law firms on the list, their legal teams and leaders have distinguished themselves on several fronts:
developing extensive capabilities beyond domestic criminal law
introducing expert evidence accepted by the court for the first time
promoting their lawyers’ expertise as lecturers at judicial and legal conferences
exploring the intersection between criminal law and social marginalization
“It is no accident that the firms listed as top criminal law boutiques by Canadian Lawyer have remained remarkably similar over the years,” says Matthew Nathanson of Matthew Nathanson Law Corporation. “That is because these firms have consistently demonstrated excellence in practising criminal law. But criminal law is constantly evolving, and there is always room for new blood.”
“We bring the same intensity to defending professionals facing potentially career-ending action as we do in defending our clients’ liberty in criminal cases”
Joven NarwalNarwal Litigation LLP
Narwal Litigation LLP
Changing the game on white-collar crime
The winning firm for Western Canada has cultivated a unique practice dedicated to complex criminal litigation, taking on matters often years in the making and involving parallel and overlapping investigations of white-collar crime and organized crime, both domestic and international.
Founding partner Joven Narwal, a former Crown prosecutor, is committed to remaining at the forefront of the firm’s practice areas by also serving as an adjunct professor at the University of British Columbia’s Allard School of Law, where he teaches about white-collar crime and created two classes: Criminal Organizations and White-Collar Crime.
“When I started teaching white-collar crime over 10 years ago, it was mostly American cases that I was teaching,” explains Narwal. “Now, the syllabus is almost entirely my own cases.”
In December 2023, Narwal and his partner Cheryl D’Sa were appointed King’s Counsel by the Attorney General of British Columbia, a testament to their dedication and contributions to the legal landscape.
Narwal Litigation is raising the benchmark for legal excellence by:
strongly advocating against programs that incentivize people to provide unreliable information
performing trailblazing work nationally in challenging certain types of witnesses, particularly impacting cases that involve cooperating witnesses in British Columbia
effectively navigating investigations with an expert understanding of administrative, criminal, and constitutional laws, as well as insight into the capital markets, knowledge of investigative techniques, and instincts developed through experience
“We have a deep sense of purpose around our practice model and a high degree of autonomy,” Narwal adds. “We turn down more cases than we take on, and that type of freedom is a measure of success.”
Because of its stellar reputation, credentials, and experience in litigating complex and sophisticated criminal cases, the top criminal law firm is sought out for its preventative advice and representation on regulatory compliance matters, which serves as a complementary arm of its robust litigation practice.
“Our extensive practice litigating cases with international dimensions involving extradition, mutual legal assistance, and in domestic prosecutions allowed us to develop unparalleled experience in challenging the use of unconventional investigative techniques deployed in Canada and abroad,” Narwal notes. “We have also mounted ground-breaking constitutional attacks to legislation and investigative techniques.”
“Success is not just about advancing clients’ rights and winning in court, but also making a difference. We’ve tackled cases like abuse against men, bringing this social issue to the forefront”
Joseph NeubergerNeuberger & Partners LLP
Neuberger & Partners LLP
Shaping the boundaries of criminal defence
The Toronto criminal law firm developed a tertiary specialty, as certain doctors do, propelling it to the forefront of sexual and domestic assault defence work, which has seen significant legislative and case law changes in the past five years.
“By specializing the way we have, it’s allowed us to focus on the changes in the law and incorporate that into how we defend cases,” says partner Joseph Neuberger, a leading expert in cross-examination and expert witnesses. “That’s what has made us successful in the area of practice that we have.”
Neuberger & Partners is making its mark in the legal landscape by:
winning a landmark case considered “a major success” with expert evidence admitted for the first time in Canadian history, effectively recognizing that abuse doesn’t have a particular gender and can include men and women
publishing the podcast Not on Record, which fosters broader engagement with lawyers and others who have interacted with the courts to drive change in the legal system
giving back to the community with fundraisers such as Billiards with the Bar and Feed the Hungry, organized by the Toronto Lawyers Association (TLA)
“Part of what I consider success, and it’s dear to my heart, is giving back,” notes Neuberger, a longtime past president of the TLA. “It’s the culture of philanthropy within the firm for all of us to contribute to the community, and I enjoy working on that.”
“Clients come to us in dire circumstances with many things on the line, including their freedom; we approach every case with that in mind and take seriously their profound trust in us”
Brandon CrawfordEdelson Foord Law
Edelson Foord Law
Setting the bar higher for future generations
Reputation, respect, and results drive success at winning Ottawa criminal law firm, Edelson Foord Law.
“This has been a shop that’s been known for protecting people in the most grave of situations for many years, and we have credibility with prosecutors and judges across the province and elsewhere,” says partner Brandon Crawford.
The firm takes pride in nurturing its young talent coming through the ranks and is confident in its ability to continue setting high standards across generations.
Partner Tony Paciocco emphasizes the firm’s competitive advantage: “We have the resources necessary to ensure multiple eyes on the file, and we work coherently in one direction, covering all of our bases.”
Edelson Foord Law is redefining excellence in its practice areas by:
creating jurisprudence/case law for other lawyers in the realm of the right to be tried within a reasonable time frame in sexual assault cases, and how to navigate these complicated pretrial motions
expertise in handling Police Services Act cases, and drinking and driving-related defence, with several Edelson Foord lawyers lecturing on the subject
being adept at navigating the increasingly complicated legal regime related to sexual offences, whether defending an accused charged with an offence or, on occasion, assisting a complainant
“We are accessible and dedicated to getting great results for our clients,” remarks Crawford.
Paciocco adds, “Often, you may not hear about someone being charged because we’re working behind the scenes trying to ensure they don’t get charged in the first place.”
“The accolades are nice, but for us they’re a reflection of the fact we’re doing well by our clients and that’s what drives and motivates us”
Tony PacioccoEdelson Foord Law
Ruby Shiller Enenajor Barristers
Trailblazing strategies set new standards
of criminal law excellence
Viewing themselves as advocates who are as tough as they are compassionate, the legal team at this winning Toronto firm has cemented its status among the best in the country.
“Our approach to the practice of criminal law is unique in that it’s a combination of recognizing the human at the center of this difficult period, but at the same time approaching their defence with surgical precision and a strategy that is intentional and built around the strengths of their case,” explains partner Annamaria Enenajor.
In addition to empathy and strategic precision, the top criminal law firm is breaking boundaries with creative approaches such as:
taking on the conflicts at the centre of cases rather than bulldozing through the law, managing clients’ expectations and understanding of what’s at stake in the context of a criminal prosecution
assisting other lawyers in cases where factors such as anti-Black racism impact a person’s perceived moral blameworthiness and degree of responsibility in an offence
being on the cutting edge of holistically integrating social science and social reality into law
“The one thing we value highly is getting to know our clients and understanding their needs, which is important for the kind of service we provide,” remarks Enenajor. “It’s always about delivering results for our clients; we can’t always guarantee a win, but we can guarantee that we will do everything in our power and advance every creative argument fearlessly and zealously.”
Ruby Shiller Enenajor Barristers are involved in various pro bono activities and have a history of civil rights pro bono work at the Supreme Court of Canada and the Ontario Court of Appeal. The firm also prioritizes professional development for colleagues, focusing on helping other lawyers understand and incorporate an understanding of systemic racism and its impact on Black and Indigenous offenders.
“We always try to think outside the box and get to the heart of the dispute and the matter that’s before the court”
Annamaria EnenajorRuby Shiller Enenajor Barristers
- Martland & Saulnier
- O’Brien Devlin MacLeod
- Peck and Company Barristers
- Pringle Law
- Cooper, Sandler, Shime & Schwartzentruber LLP
- Daniel Brown Law LLP
- Fenton Law Barristers
- Greenspan Humphrey Weinstein LLP
- Greenspan Partners LLP
- Lockyer Zaduk Zeeh
- Posner Craig Stein LLP
- Ruby Shiller Enenajor Barristers
Ottawa and Montreal
- Battista Turcot Israel Corbo, s.e.n.c.
- Bayne Sellar Ertel Macrae
- Shadley Knerr