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Canadian Lawyer announces the Top Labour and Employment Law Boutiques for 2024–25, trailblazers leading with their consistently outstanding impact on the profession and the clients they serve.
From a pool of 70 distinguished nominees, this year’s award winners stood out as heavyweights by pushing the boundaries of labour and employment law.
Over 500 of CL’s readers cast votes, capturing the essence of the top firms’ strengths and the difference they are making:
commitment to legal excellence and client service
talented lawyers providing timely, strategic, and practical advice
prioritizing clients and providing effective results
case results speak for themselves
consistent and substantial contribution to the development of the law
These extraordinary accomplishments of the best labour and employment law firms nationwide are demonstrated by the following four firms, which serve as an inspiration to others who aspire to push beyond their limits.
“Our success reflects our client’s success, and if we can contribute to that, that’s a success for us, which is fulfilling”
Lindsie ThomsonHarris & Company LLP
Harris & Company LLP
Collaboration is a cornerstone of top employment law firm
The firm consistently leads the pack and boasts bench strength at all levels. Strong internal cooperation and collaboration round out its award-winning approach.
Survey respondents noted in support of the firm’s recognition that the team stands out for its expertise, outstanding client service, and exceptional work.
“We work very well together as colleagues, sharing information and knowledge as we work on things for our clients,” says managing partner Lindsie Thomson. “We do a lot of non-billable meetings together to ensure we’re all up to speed, helping to bring up our young lawyers.”
A larger legal team than the average boutique enables the firm to specialize in different sectors and industries, developing a deep understanding of their clients’ operations as if they were operators in the same field.
Client service is paramount, and Harris & Company's approach highlights how the firm outshines the competition:
personal, relational, and respectful, acknowledging the client is the expert in their operation
offering client training and development, including webinars and seminars on emerging and tricky topics such as AI and the workplace
“We’re starting to see employers grapple with what to do with AI and their employees,” Thomson reflects. “Conflict and incivility in the public sector are another one we’re dealing with, so we try to ensure clients have the opportunity to learn.”
Backed by its impressive bench strength in labour and litigation, Harris & Company's is well-positioned to deal with such issues as complex picketing injunctions, cases where its legal team’s expertise and creativity come to the forefront.
But it’s not all labour, as the firm has seen growth in its administrative law practice for public sector clients. Occupational health and safety and privacy issues have also emerged as areas of strength.
While the firm has always prioritized gender balance over its 31-year history, the leaders dove into the issue within the past year and developed a formal and robust EDI strategy.
“We are excited about this because we want people to feel like this is a place they belong and want to practice with us because they feel like they can be their true selves and be accepted,” Thomson remarks.
“We aspire to be the best, and that means challenging ourselves, ensuring our people are recognized and taken care of in the right way”
Greg McGinnisMathews Dinsdale & Clark LLP
Mathews Dinsdale & Clark LLP
National presence boosts top employment firm’s ability
to serve clients
The ability to serve clients seamlessly across Canada from offices in several major centres, including Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary, and Halifax, has been a key differentiator. Its large roster of legal professionals also sets it apart from competitors.
“We’re getting close to 80 lawyers, and we can pull together some pretty big teams to handle major problems when required,” says Greg McGinnis, a partner based in the Toronto office.
Mathews Dinsdale & Clark approaches client service and satisfaction from the point of solving issues expediently while also enabling clients to manage their own issues through training and helpful precedents.
CL’s survey respondents remarked that the firm possesses:
“A national presence and exceptional talent.”
“Dedication to constant improvement, superior knowledge of the law, imaginative and effective remedies, including Anton Piller orders and oppression remedies when dealing with rogue key employees.”
“A long history of consistently good service in labour and employment law.”
Mathews Dinsdale & Clark’s leading reputation as a well-run firm with exceptional people and clients affords a solid foundation upon which to build.
“We are in business to serve our clients, and that’s our only business objective,” McGinnis adds. “But you need great people and teams; nothing else happens without that.”
“Our firm can look at the number of clients, wins, or awards, and we’ve achieved success, but getting a note of thanks from a client still means the most to me”
Angela RaeRae Christen Jeffries LLP
Rae Christen Jeffries LLP
Delivering unparalleled expertise and service since day one
Like other top labour and employment law firms on this year’s list, the winning streak continues for this leading Toronto firm. Rae Christen Jeffries’ founding partners continue to handle the firm’s work and are in the prime of their careers, a differentiator that sets them apart in a competitive legal landscape.
“We have an extremely high concentration of sophisticated expertise within a relatively small group of lawyers,” explains Angela Rae, a founding partner and renowned management labour and employment lawyer. “Having set up and founded a business gives us an enormous appreciation for our entrepreneurial clients and what they are grappling with in setting up their businesses.”
Survey respondents’ comments backed up that competitive advantage, also noting:
“RCJ Law has a wealth of knowledge across all sectors; the firm’s younger partners are promising, and their work is exemplary.”
“They deliver experienced, clever, and practical advocacy.”
“Highest level of service and expertise.”
Clients with ongoing or novel labour relations issues can rely on the firm’s legal team to help them strategize and anticipate problems, identifying the best way to minimize potential liabilities.
“Our firm’s lawyers are well-known for litigating hundreds and hundreds of cases at labour arbitration, the Ontario Labour Relations Board, and court decisions in wrongful dismissal cases,” notes Rae.
The legal team prides itself on several standout cases that have made a significant difference to their clients, including achieving decisions that affect transit in Toronto.
“Our concept is simple, and that’s when we take care of the client, everything else will take care of itself; happy clients will send other clients our way”
David WhittenWhitten & Lublin
Whitten & Lublin
Empathetic philosophy drives top employment firm’s success
With a clear vision to create a bespoke, client-focused, empathetic practice that eschewed a cookie-cutter approach to law, the firm’s founding partners continue to prioritize those elements to much success and recognition.
At the heart of the philosophy is assisting clients legally and emotionally.
“Any lawyer can figure out the law and try to apply it rigidly, but it was important to us to be mindful of the stress our clients are going through when they have work-related issues, especially on the employee side, and tailor an approach to their needs,” explains partner David Whitten.
Survey respondents praised the firm as a standout:
“They are always getting amazing results for clients, and they care about them more than anything.”
“Well-established and proven to help people in need, with an excellent intake process and customer service, great team of knowledgeable lawyers and reasonable costs.”
“Best overall commitment to getting the job done right, and best overall lawyers in terms of results and dedication to client service.”
One of its strategic competitive advantages lies in its ability to represent both the employee and employer sides of issues. The firm’s legal team has built a reputation as “sword-swinging litigators” in the court system, displaying a fearless approach to taking matters into that realm.
“This backstops our ability to negotiate and achieve superior results for our clients,” adds Whitten.
An example of that strategy involves the team successfully defending an injunction application, allowing their client to proceed with operating their business, and winning a sizable cost award in favour of their employee client.
“This was a groundbreaking case in the sense that it was a message to employers that the restrictions you think you can hold an employee to are quite limited,” he reflects.
How the top labour and employment law firms
will maintain their standing
Mathews Dinsdale & Clark LLP: “We have to be willing to adapt to the times and not just adapt, but lead. Every year, we need to do something different because we’ll get left behind if we don’t. That’s the direction in which we try to push ourselves.”
Harris & Company LLP: “We invest in our knowledge and have a fabulous librarian who contributes significantly. Everything returns to our collaborative approach internally, sharing everything we hear and think, sharpening each other’s thoughts. And that’s a huge advantage when you’ve got 50 lawyers who are all practicing in the same area and in a collegial manner.”
Whitten & Lublin: “The biggest issue for us has been the backlog at the courts, where it’s taking years to get dates for simple things as motions to move things along. We’ve had to be creative in advancing our clients’ cases, which sometimes involves looking at different jurisdictions to bring the matter.”
Rae Christen Jeffries LLP: “The challenge now is dealing with what the practice will look like in a post-COVID world. We’ve remained in a virtual hearing state because clients like it, it’s efficient, and it cuts costs. But as a larger labour law community, work remains to be done to reestablish the relationships formed due to being together. We’ve renovated our new space, with windows and walkable streets. Having our firm members treat that as their home base and working from there will help address this challenge.”
- Barteaux Labour and Employment Lawyers
- Hicks Morley
- Levitt Sheikh LLP
- Loranger Marcoux
- Rubin Thomlinson LLP
- Whitten & Lublin
- Mathews Dinsdale & Clark LLP
- Neuman Thompson
- Pulver Crawford Munroe LLP
- Roper Greyell LLP
- CaleyWray Labour and Employment Lawyers
- Cavalluzzo LLP
- Goldblatt Partners
- Pink Larkin
- Ryder Wright Holmes Bryden Nam LLP