Top Criminal Law Boutiques 2020

Aside from securing acquittals and setting precedents the top firms were focussed on social progress

Top Criminal Law Boutiques 2020

In Canadian Lawyer’s June issue, we released the results to our Top Civil Litigation and Criminal Law Boutiques survey. Below are the Top Ten Criminal Law firms, as determined by voters across Canada.

To read the introduction and more about the Top Civil Litigation firms, click here.


Canadian Lawyer asked lawyers, in-house counsel and clients from across Canada to vote on the top civil litigation and criminal boutiques. They were asked to rank their top firms from a preliminary list, with a chance to nominate a firm that was not included on the list. To be considered in the vote, firms were required to have at least 80 per cent of their business come from civil litigation and criminal law. The final rankings were determined through a points system, in which firms were rewarded on a sliding scale for the number of first to 10th-place votes received. The quantitative results are combined with feedback from respected senior members of the bar and in-house counsel when applicable.  

Please find a full description of our methodology at

Top Criminal Boutiques  
*Listed alphabetically

Addario Law Group 

Founded in 2012 by Frank Addario, Addario Law Group LLP is a team of six lawyers. The firm acts in a wide range of criminal and regulatory matters, with an emphasis on complex cases. It conducts internal investigations and gives strategic advice to businesses about complying with criminal and quasi-criminal law. It specializes in resolving crises that threaten to disrupt life, business or reputation without charges or public accusations.  

Addario is routinely called upon for high-profile advocacy. For example, Addario is representing Qing “Quentin” Huang, a Burlington, Ont. man charged under the Security of Information Act for allegedly trying to leak secrets to China. In Huang’s case, federal Attorney General David Lametti issued a secrecy certificate to overrule the judge’s order for disclosure of documents detailing the Canadian Security Intelligence Service surveillance operation on the Chinese embassy in Ottawa. Lametti’s move was the first of its kind in Canadian history.  

Cooper Sandler Shime & Bergman LLP 

Cooper Sandler Shime & Bergman is a seven-lawyer firm based in downtown Toronto, with extensive experience defending charges of white-collar crime, homicide, drug and sexual assault cases. The firm’s founder was the late Austin Cooper, recipient of the G. Arthur Martin Medal, which is awarded by the Criminal Lawyers’ Association for significant contributions to criminal justice. That award was also given to senior partner Mark Sandler — who is a three-time elected bencher for the Law Society of Ontario and a leading appellate and trial criminal litigator. Sandler is currently lead counsel to the Independent Civilian Review into Missing Person Investigations in Toronto, established in the aftermath of the crimes of serial killer Bruce McArthur. 

Partner Scott Bergman is external counsel for the independent review of the violent incidents, which took place at the 2019 Hamilton Pride Parade. Megan Schwartzentruber — along with Sandler — acted as counsel for the Ontario College of Nurses at the Wettlaufer Inquiry into long-term care homes. 

Greenspan Humphrey Weinstein LLP  

As a firm of seven (soon to be eight) litigators who go to court every day, it is difficult to keep track of all the significant files of the last two years, says Brian Greenspan, a recent recipient of the Toronto Lawyers Association award of distinction. But top of mind was acting for Volkswagen Canada in the Environmental Protection Act prosecution against the car company for the diesel emissions scandal. The company admitted to installing software that tricked emissions-testing equipment, was charged with 60 counts of breaching the Environmental Protection Act and reached a plea deal with the Canadian government last December. “It is the largest single environmental case in the history of Canada,” says Greenspan. The firm also acted for the former mayor of Thunder Bay, Ont., Keith Hobbs, who was charged along with his wife and another Thunder Bay resident with extortion. The trio was acquitted.  

Greenspan Partners LLP  

Every year, the Greenspan clan takes a prominent place on Canadian Lawyer’s Top Criminal Boutiques list. Alongside Greenspan Humphrey Weinstein is the firm founded by Brian’s late brother Edward. Greenspan Partners LLP specializes in criminal, regulatory and administrative matters. On its website, the firm states it continues to practise the complete defence values and principles of its founder.  

Senior partner Julianna Greenspan is a trial and appellate advocate with more than 20 years of experience practising exclusively in criminal defence, both in Canada and the United States. Her partner, Brad Greenshields, has practised criminal law for more than a decade and has successfully appeared in all levels of the Ontario courts and at the Supreme Court of Canada. The firm also recently added new associate Ethan Radomski, who successfully completed articles with the firm. The firm’s practice also includes extradition matters, cross-border criminal investigations and litigation, financial crimes and professional disciplinary hearings. 

Henein Hutchison LLP  

Henein Hutchison’s expertise in regulatory, criminal and civil litigation has it involved in many headline-grabbing cases, including acting for the Canadian plaintiffs in the Harvey Weinstein litigation. The firm is also often retained in the criminal appellate and public law contexts, routinely litigating precedent-setting cases. For example, the firm’s Matthew Gourlay recently acted in R. v. Chan, a case that tested the constitutionality of s. 33.1 of the Criminal Code — known as the extreme intoxication defence. The firm acts extensively in regulatory and administrative matters such as the Justice of the Peace Review Counsel, the Royal College of Dental Surgeons, the Ontario College of Pharmacists and the Law Society of Ontario. Other notable, recent clients include former Ontario attorney general Michael Bryant, Vice Admiral Mark Norman, former CBC radio personality Jian Ghomeshi and Andrew Stronach.  

The firm is frequently consulted by in-house counsel to provide advice on internal corporate matters and works with other firms on complex cases including internal investigations. The firm also advises large corporations, government entities, sport organizations and professional firms on domestic and foreign corruption issues, FINTRAC compliance, OSC matters and a range of other regulatory compliance questions and strategic issues.

Peck and Company  

Last time Canadian Lawyer published its Top Criminal Boutiques list, the historic Supreme Court of Canada decision in R. v. Jordan was on every legal mind, which set a new standard for what constituted an unreasonable trial delay. Peck and Company’s Tony Paisana and Eric Gottardi acted for the appellant Barrett Richard Jordan back in 2016. This year, the firm is involved in another headline-hogging litigation: acting as counsel for Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou. Since a U.S. court issued an arrest warrant and Wanzhou was arrested in Vancouver, the extradition process has set off diplomatic tensions between Canada and China, which have resulted in import suspensions and the resignation of the Canadian ambassador to China. 

“It's been a full-time job. Not only for [Richard Peck] and I but for a lot of the firm. It’s a massive amount of work and co-ordinating schedules between lawyers in Canada and the United States and China and the U.K.,” Gottardi says. “It's kind of a Herculean effort to be the mouse — Canada’s the little mouse — in between the U.S. and China, two huge superpowers who are fighting over this unfortunate woman, who's a bargaining chip in the middle.”

Ruby Shiller Enenajor DiGiuseppe, Barristers  

Ruby Shiller Enenajor DiGiuseppe Barristers was founded in 2009 by veteran criminal defence and civil rights lawyer Clayton Ruby and civil litigator Brian Shiller. Over the last few years, the firm has added several prominent lawyers to the roster. In 2017, Annamaria Enenajor, who was clerk to Chief Justice Richard Wagner of the Supreme Court of Canada, joined the partnership. Enenajor was followed last year by seasoned criminal defence lawyer Stephanie DiGiuseppe, and in 2020, the firm welcomed criminal and constitutional litigator Lisa Jørgensen.  

DiGiuseppe represented the so-called Eaton Centre shooter Christopher Husbands, who was convicted of manslaughter for killing two people and injuring several others in the downtown Toronto mall. Enenajor says the verdict, which was handed down in November of last year, was one of the few cases in Canadian history to engage the defence of reduced capacity as a result of PTSD. 

“It turned the focus on the trauma that's faced by inner-city youth through victimization, poverty, childhood abuse and violence in the community to raise a sustainable defence,” Enenajor says.  

“We have a lot of vulnerable clients that are from marginalized backgrounds and racialized backgrounds,” she says. “Really looking at the experience of our clients in their community, and how that impacts their culpability for the crimes that they've committed, is something that we're really interested in raising awareness about and integrating into our defence approach.”

Battista Turcot Israel s.e.n.c.  

Battista Turcot Israel s.e.n.c. is a boutique law firm with a team of eight lawyers. Its bilingual lawyers have decades of experience in the fields of criminal, penal and disciplinary matters and practice at the trial and appellate levels (including the Supreme Court of Canada). The firm’s practice includes counselling individuals, organizations, businesses and institutions. The firm has experience participating in and being counsel to provincial and federal commissions of inquiry. Beyond the courtroom, the firm’s lawyers are involved in legal education as well as acting on behalf of the wrongly convicted.

Lockyer Campbell Posner  

The firm was founded in 2005 and practises a wide range of criminal law, from defence of the wrongly convicted to driving, drug, tax and homicide cases. Richard Posner told Canadian Lawyer that one of the most significant pieces of litigation the firm handled in the last year was that between Her Majesty the Queen and Hamad Anwar and Tiffany Harvey. The London, Ont. couple was charged with prostitution-related offences for allegedly running an escort agency. Acting for the couple, James Lockyer brought a constitutional challenge to the Criminal Code sections under which the two were charged. This February, Justice Thomas McKay of the Ontario Court of Justice found the laws against procuring, advertising and materially benefiting from someone else's sexual services were unconstitutional. Although the decision is not binding and does not result in a striking down of the legislation, Posner says the ruling is already making waves. 

“It provides a very significant precedent that is, as I understand it, being used by many lawyers across the country.” 

Gindin Wolson Simmonds Roitenberg  

Partners Jeffrey Gindin, Richard Wolson and Saul Simmonds were each mentored by legendary Winnipeg criminal defence lawyer Harry Walsh. Called to the bar in 1937, Walsh practised until his death in 2011 and is known for playing a central role in the abolition of the death penalty. “He was one of the top criminal lawyers in Canada,” says Gindin.  

Among them, the three founders have 135 years of experience practising exclusively criminal law, says Gindin, who’s been in the profession for 49 of them. The firm is active in continuing legal education for the Law Society of Manitoba. Gindin is currently teaching a course examining the prevention of wrongful conviction in Canada. The firm has also participated in various commissions of inquiry over the years, on wrongful convictions, baby deaths and other matters. Wolson was counsel for the commission into former prime minister Brian Mulroney regarding Karlheinz Schreiber and the Airbus affair. The firm has three partners, seven associates, two articling students “and a lot of experience all around,” says Gindin.  

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