Efficiency, Flexibility, and Focus

Efficiency, Flexibility, and Focus

Despite muted activity in pockets of the legal market and the Canadian economy facing tough headwinds, Ontario’s top regional law firms say they’ve had a solid couple of years thanks to emerging opportunities and their unrelenting focus on efficiency.

With Gowling Lafleur Henderson LLP announcing in July its merger with U.K.-based Wragge Lawrence Graham & Co, the bigger shops continue the trend of going global for want of larger markets. Meanwhile, Ontario’s regional firms are expanding their own reach at home by picking up new clients who are choosing leaner structures over “too big” firms.

At the top of this year’s Ontario regional firm rankings, Toronto-based WeirFoulds LLP touts itself as being “of a shape and size” that appeals to its clients. “We’re not composed of a partnership that’s looking to conquer the world geographically,” says managing partner Michael Statham. “Knowing who you are is critical; that remains 100-per-cent true.”

As clients look to reduce legal costs, Statham says the firm is meeting its needs using fewer lawyers. “We’re able to assemble leaner teams on deals, on commercial transactions — whether it involves M&A work or it involves real estate or litigation,” he says.

Aird & Berlis LLP, second on this year’s list, says it has continued to grow in a rapidly changing legal environment. The firm has focused on spotting new opportunities and capitalizing on them, says former managing partner Eldon Bennett. The challenge, he says, is to first “figure out where opportunities are structurally, given the changing face of law. Secondly, it’s a fast-changing world, so you look where the practice opportunities are coming down the road.”

While a weaker loonie may be making them attractive to clients in the U.S. and internationally, many of the regional firms say they have yet to notice a tangible impact of the exchange rate. That may be due to uncertainties over the global economy — concerns about China slowing down and doubts about Europe’s recovery — have stifled the M&A market internationally, says Bennett. “Fortunately, being in the mid-market, that’s where the vast majority of the deals that do exist are, so we certainly get our fair share of them,” adds Bennett. He reports revenue-wise, each of the last two years were better for his firm than the year previously. “In a difficult market, it’s been very good.”

Paying attention to how clients are responding to the economy is helping Lerners LLP thrive, according to London, Ont.-based partner Graham Porter. “Our firm emphasizes highly reactive services, we want to make sure the client always feels well taken care of, and we try to be as responsive as possible,” he says. “There are definitely challenging headwinds in front of us for the next few years.” But, interestingly, Porter notes, there are particular industries showing strengths even through the tough times. Over the years, Southern Ontario lost a lot of manufacturing strength, whereas,  despite some challenges, opportunities remain for clients in the mining and forestry sector.

Part of the challenge in a rapidly changing environment is teaching lawyers to be amenable, says Bobby Sachdeva, managing partner of Pallett Valo LLP in Mississauga, Ont. “One of our strongest areas used to be insolvency; the insolvency market hasn’t been great for the last three years. So it’s teaching our people again that you can’t just specialize in being an insolvency lawyer,” he says. “If you’re an insolvency lawyer, you do litigation, and you also do the corporate side of insolvency so that we can move you around like chess pieces to different groups that are busy. It makes it a lot easier for us to adapt to the changing environment.”

At Fogler, Rubinoff LLP, new opportunities have sometimes arisen in unexpected ways. While securities work has generally been slow, the firm says it acted as counsel for marijuana-infused products company Nutritional High International Inc. in the company’s first public offering. It was “certainly something we never would have thought of,” says managing partner Michael Appleton. “But it was actually made quite public.”

The firm has also been involved in matters related to aboriginal lands, Appleton says. “It’s all areas that when they came up, we somehow managed to get involved. We do manage to create some synergies with the lawyers getting together to create business in that area.”

Sachdeva says it’s helpful that both partners and associates at his firm have embraced entrepreneurial skills. While the firm doesn’t require its younger associates to bring in work from the get-go, he says they’re still expected to build networks and create relationships that will bear fruit in the future. “If you’re not going to engage in business development, and there’s a lot of ways to do business development, if you don’t want to engage in it, chances are you don’t want to be working with us,” he says.

In fact, for a firm of its size, hiring and succession planning are the biggest challenges, he says. “We have to be better at hiring than the bigger firms because there’s less margin for error. Then you have to keep an eye on where your age levels are. The biggest danger for a firm our size is hollowing out; you end up with a bunch of people who are 55, 60, and over and a bunch of associates who are 30 and under because it’s very, very difficult to bring in laterals who are in the 35-to-45 range.

“You constantly have to watch where your levels are on your associates and which partners are approaching retirement, who’s going to step into their shoes and you can’t wait until two years before, you have to look at that five, seven years in advance,” Sachdeva says.

The top 10 firms on this year’s list share a drive to show clients it’s possible to marry big-firm expertise with reduced costs and flexibility, and they’re busy proving it.

How we did it
Canadian Lawyer asked lawyers, in-house counsel, and clients from across Canada to vote on the top full-service, regional firms in Ontario. They were asked to rank their top 10 firms from a preliminary list, with a chance to nominate a firm that was not included on the lists. Respondents’ rankings were based on firms’ regional service coverage, client base, notable mandates, service excellence, and legal expertise. To be considered in the vote, firms were required to have offices only in Ontario, and offer a wide range of legal services. 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.

1) WeirFoulds LLP

Total lawyers: 90

Office: Toronto

Core practice areas: Litigation; corporate; property; government law

Key clients: Public and private corporations; governments, public authorities, and agencies; entrepreneurs; national firms seeking regional representation; non-profit and public interest organizations and individuals

Notable mandates: Acted for Soltoro Ltd. in connection with its successful disposition by plan of arrangement to Agnico Eagle Mines Ltd.; co-counsel for Trillium Motor World Ltd. in class action against General Motors of Canada Ltd. and Cassels Brock & Blackwell LLP; acted for Canadian Solar Inc. in connection with raising an aggregate of US$50 million in equity and US$100 million in debt financing for acquisition financing and working capital purposes; external counsel to the Regional Municipality of York, providing a wide range of municipal, real estate, expropriation, litigation, and commercial law advice and services; counsel to minority shareholder of a Nevis LLC worth more than US$500 million with respect to a claim for relief from unfair prejudice in litigation in Nevis and the Commercial Division of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court in British Virgin Islands, and in contemporaneous related actions in Belize and the United States.

Star alumni: Four treasurers of the Law Society of Upper Canada; Supreme Court of Canada Justice Thomas Cromwell; former Ontario chief justice George Gale; former Supreme Court of Canada justice Roy Kellock; former Ontario Court of Appeal justices James Carthy, Allan McNiece Austin and John Arnup; Ontario Superior Court justices Joan Lax and Paul Perell.

Affiliations: SCG Legal

Firm history: Since 1860, WeirFoulds LLP has provided strategic, cost-effective, and innovative legal advice to its clients. Since its founding, the firm says it has thrived by becoming “a true partner” to its clients’ businesses. “You’ve got to be able to demonstrate to the client why it is that they’re using you,” says managing partner Michael Statham, adding one of the firm’s biggest priorities is “being empathetic and putting ourselves in the shoes of the client.”

One survey respondent wrote the lawyers at WeirFoulds possess “stellar attention to detail, questioning proposed structuring for clients rather than simply replicating template legal docs.” Another, who was particularly impressed with the firm’s real estate and corporate commercial expertise, said lawyers made themselves available “on a moment’s notice” to answer questions. “They are patient and explain everything in detail so there is no misunderstandings. And they’re the nicest people — even under pressure they are professional and composed,” the respondent wrote.

2) Aird & Berlis LLP

Total lawyers: 150

Office: Toronto

Core practice areas: Corporate finance; corporate/commercial; municipal and land use; planning; real estate; energy and infrastructure; tax; financial services

Key clients: Enbridge Inc.; Independent Electricity System Operator; RBC; Allied Properties REIT; TD Bank Group; Concord Adex Developments

Notable mandates: Counsel to Infrastructure Ontario and Metrolinx on the East Rail Maintenance Facility Project, an $860-million design-build-finance-maintain P3 project; counsel to Allied Properties REIT on a $150-million securities offering; counsel to National RV Communities LLC on a US$800-million refinancing of its North America-wide recreational-based real estate portfolio; counsel to Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro with respect to its $500-million general rates application, a detailed review of its cost of service, capital structure, rates of return, and other relevant matters for the purposes of setting rates; counsel to Crestpoint Real Estate Investments Ltd. Partnership on the purchase of an international portfolio of industrial properties for $731 million.

Star alumni: Founding partner John Black Aird, who was appointed an officer of the Order of Canada, a senator, and Ontario’s 23rd lieutenant governor; David Miller, former Toronto mayor and president and CEO of World Wildlife Fund Canada; former Canadian minister of External Affairs Barbara McDougall; Tim Hortons Inc. vice president and assistant general counsel Meredith Michetti, and Gilbert S. Bennett, CEO, director, and/or chairman of many Canadian public and private companies, including Canadair Ltd., Canadian Tire, de Havilland Inc., Air Nova Inc., Algoma Steel Inc., Eldorado Nuclear Ltd., and Enbridge Inc.

Affiliations: Interlaw Ltd.

Firm history: Aird & Berlis LLP opened for business in 1919. In 1974, a merger of firms created Aird Zimmerman & Berlis, a name later shortened to Aird & Berlis. The Toronto-based firm has a strong national and international practice, representing clients in the U.S., U.K., Europe, and elsewhere. One satisfied client who participated in the survey wrote the firm had “great expertise, outstanding customer service, [and] genuinely nice lawyers.”

The firm, says former managing partner Eldon Bennett, offers the same sophistication of service as large law firms and can usually deliver them in a more cost-effective way for clients. “Being a mid-market firm, I think we have a cost structure that’s more competitive than [what] some other firms have, than some of our competitors have.” While the firm has been mulling the idea of opening a second office, Bennett says it decided against it after concluding “it’s a way to make less money.”

3) Lerners LLP

Total lawyers: 126

Lawyers by office: 76 in London; 50 in Toronto

Core practice areas: Plaintiff personal injury; medical negligence defence; insurance defence; commercial litigation; appellate advocacy; business law

Key clients: CMPA; CCLA; Frank Cowan Insurance; Deloitte; AICA; McKay-Cocker Construction; Verspeeten Cartage Ltd.; Trudell Medical Group

Notable mandates: Represented physicians involved in providing care to Ashley Smith during the 2013 coroner’s inquest; acted for Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne in a defamation action against Ontario Progressive Conservative party leader Tim Hudak and energy critic Lisa MacLeod; in Wise v. Iran, acted for a Canadian victim of a suicide bombing (executed by individuals who received material support from Iran) who sought leave to intervene in ongoing proceedings commenced by United States plaintiffs in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice seeking orders recognizing the enforceability in Ontario of judgments they obtained from a U.S. court against Iran totaling about $370 million; in Khadr v. Edmonton Institution, acted as lead counsel for an intervener, the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, to argue that in interpreting Omar Khadr’s sentence for the purpose of enforcing it in Canada, Correctional Services Canada was obliged to consider Khadr’s right to liberty and principles of fundamental justice; acted for a physician in a malpractice claim in Moore v. Getahun, a precedent-setting case about restrictions on communication between counsel and experts in preparation of expert reports.

Star alumni: Nathalie Des Rosiers, dean of common law at University of Ottawa’s Faculty of Law; former Superior Court justices John Kennedy and Thomas Granger; Ontario Superior Court justices Ian Leach, Margaret McSorley, Mary Anne Sanderson, and Michael Varpio; Ontario Court of Appeal Justice Bradley Miller; David Shore, television writer for House, NYPD Blue, Family Law, and Due South; Bryce Rudyk, senior legal adviser to Alliance of Small Island States in United Nations negotiations relating to climate change treaties and adjunct law professor at New York University School of Law; Amy Archer, senior adviser to the government house leader at the Ontario government.

Affiliations: n/a

Firm history: Lerner & Lerner was established by the firm’s founders, Mayer Lerner and Samuel Lerner, in 1929. Since that time, the firm has progressively grown to more than 125 lawyers and 400 support staff. Now known as Lerners LLP, the firm provides strong legal expertise in many areas of practice, with a particular strength in all areas of litigation and dispute resolution.

“Lerners truly has a regional model, with offices in different locations, lawyers operating throughout Ontario, and deep expertise in areas of law,” one survey respondent said. The firm, according to partner Graham Porter, is actively considering looking at ways to expand, including opening new offices.

The firm says it prides itself in “seeing women not only remain in the practice of law, but advance to positions of authority in our firm and the legal community as a whole.” Partner Maia Bent is president of the Ontario Trial Lawyers Association, a position previously held by few women.

4) Pallett Valo LLP

Total lawyers: 31 lawyers

Office: Mississauga

Core practice areas: Business law; commercial litigation; commercial real estate; construction; insolvency and corporate restructuring; employment and labour; wills, estates, and trusts

Key clients: HOOPP Realty Inc.; Peel District School Board; Stewart Title Guaranty Co.; Parmalat Canada; Bayshore HealthCare Ltd.; Business Development Bank of Canada

Notable mandates: Significant mandate in the construction projects for Pan Am Games venues; acted as litigation counsel for AECOM Canada Ltd. in the successful resolution of a multi-party negligence claim related to the design and construction of the Brant Street Pier in Burlington, Ont.; acted on a number of transactions involving the purchase and sale of residential development lands in excess of $20 million each; represented Collins Barrow Toronto Ltd. in its capacity as the court-appointed receiver in a complex receivership with assets valued at approximately $20 million; acted for a high-net-worth individual on the assembly of a real estate portfolio with an objective of net revenues exceeding $10 million annually that involved co-ordination with local and international tax consultants to effectively structure Canadian and offshore assets and holdings.

Star alumni: John Pallett, MP from 1954-1962; Sidney Valo, founding director and the first CEO of the Greater Toronto Airports Authority; Thomas Santram, vice president (legal) at Cineplex Inc.; Robert Wasserman, director of legal services for Canada and Latin America, Starbucks Coffee Co.; Suzanne Michaud, senior advisory counsel at RBC law group; Maria Tassou, vice chairwoman of the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board; Liana Turrin, general counsel and secretary of Altus Group Inc.

Affiliations: Integrated Advisory Group — International.

Firm history: It began with the establishment of Pallett & Pallett in 1948. The firm merged with Millman Valo in 1980 to become Pallett Valo LLP. After 1997, Pallett Valo changed its historical focus as a real estate firm to become a business law firm with specialized practice groups. Having an office in Mississauga, home to many corporations’ headquarters, is a definite advantage, according to managing partner Bobby Sachdeva, who also says the firm has benefited from big firm mergers.

“There’s a market for the taking if a firm our size, or slightly bigger or smaller, can adopt to what the marketplace now wants from us,” says Sachdeva. “We look to get clients who’ve traditionally used bigger firms.”

At Pallett Valo, “They get it,” one survey respondent wrote. “Their concept of right-sized thinking means that their clients get excellent service and exemplary work undertaken by the right lawyer or team.”

5) Torkin Manes LLP

Total lawyers: 82

Office: Toronto

Core practice areas: Corporate, including tax, technology, banking and insolvency; litigation, including construction, health, estate, and insurance defence; commercial real estate; employment and labour relations; family law

Key clients: Apotex Inc.; Canada Goose Inc.; Fulcrum Capital Partners; Imperial Coffee and Services Inc.; SmartREIT; Spin Master Corp.

Notable mandates: Acted for Spin Master Corp. in connection with its IPO and on several acquisitions and related financing transactions; represented Canada Goose Inc. in the sale of a majority stake in the company to Bain Capital; acted for KUBRA Data Transfer in a variety of day-to-day matters and related acquisitions and financings as well as the ultimate sale of KUBRA by Clairvest and its management team; acted for Concordia Healthcare Inc. in connection with the financing and acquisition of various assets, and in its reverse takeover of a CPC and listing on the TSX; represented Frank Stollery Ltd. on the sale of 1 and 11 Bloor Street W., which housed the landmark retail store Stollery’s for 114 years.

Star alumni: David Butt, the first Canadian prosecutor to specialize in Internet child abuse cases and counsel to Kinsa; Anne Giardini, chancellor of Simon Fraser University; Kimberley McVittie, vice president of business management at CIBC; Caroline Pinto, managing principal at Counsel Public Affairs Inc.; mediator and arbitrator Michael Silver; Ian Tod, former chairman of Deloitte Legal; Kathleen Waters, president and CEO of LawPRO; Jennifer Wood, private banker at RBC.

Affiliations: International Alliance of Law Firms (IALF)/Ally Law

Firm history: In 1974, Larry Torkin, a corporate and tax lawyer, founded Torkin Manes with litigator Ron Manes. The duo, which declined offers from large Toronto law firms to form their own partnership, expanded the firm to six lawyers in 1979, when it developed practices in corporate, tax, real estate, and family law. Over the years, the firm’s litigation practice expanded to include insurance defence, health, construction, and medical malpractice, while the corporate department grew and became known for providing comprehensive services to mid-market owner-operated companies.

At Torkin Manes, “our partners are encouraged to think of themselves as owner-operators,” says managing partner Jeffrey Cohen. “Accordingly, as a firm we relate very well to our clients.
Our clients have trust and confidence that we understand what they do and will work with them as a team to provide proactive, strategic advice that will advance the success of their business.”

6) Fogler Rubinoff LLP

Total lawyers: 113

Lawyers by office: Toronto, 111; Ottawa, 2

Core practice areas: Business law including corporate, securities, IP/IT; energy and environmental law; commercial real estate including condominium law and leasing; financial services; litigation, including labour & employment and environmental law; tax; wills, and estates

Key clients: Canadian Solar Solutions Inc.; Riocan REIT; FirstService Corp.; Suncor; Computershare; TD, HSBC, and other major banks

Notable mandates: Plan of arrangement to separate FirstService Corp. and Colliers Realty; acquisition, development, financing, and sale of multiple utility scale solar projects for Canadian Solar; representation of Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd. in landmark decision of Federal Court and Federal Court of Appeal on right to dismiss unionized employees without cause; representation of developers on significant condo and mixed use projects including Art Shoppe Condos and The One; initial public offerings for Imperus Labs and Nutritional High.

Star alumni: Ed Sonshine, founder and CEO of RioCan REIT; Jay Hennick, founder and chairman of FirstService Corp.; Michael Kline, senior vice president of legal and business affairs at LoyaltyOne Co.; Eugene McBurney, co-founder, director, and chairman of Griffiths McBurney Canada Corp.; Ontario Superior Court Justice Arthur Gans.

Affiliations: International Lawyers Network

Firm history: The firm of Fogler Rubinoff, with 25 lawyers, was created in 1982 through a merger of the firms of Siegal Fogler and Rubinoff & Rubinoff. In the 33 years since the merger, the firm has more than quadrupled in size and has diversified its areas of practice, creating a full-service business law firm.

“In the last few years, Foglers has expanded in the core service areas of litigation and real estate with the lateral addition of seasoned senior partners,” says managing partner Michael Appleton. “We have also expanded its service offerings with the addition of energy, gaming, and aboriginal practice groups.” Michael Slan, who becomes managing partner next year, says the firm is “a sweet spot for entrepreneurs and corporate counsel alike. We have big firm expertise yet provide great value and flexibility to our clients.”

7) Blaney McMurtry LLP

Total lawyers: 125

Office: Toronto

Core practice areas: Commercial litigation; commercial real estate; corporate-commercial; labour and employment; insurance law

Key clients: The Toronto-Dominion Bank; SmartREIT (formerly SmartCentres); First National Financial LP; Desjardins Global Asset Management; G4S Secure Solutions (Canada) Ltd.

Notable mandates: Acting for Dundee Kilmer Developments in the development and sale of the condominium components for the 2015 Pan Am Games Athletes’ Village; principal negotiator and counsel to the Algonquins of Ontario in ongoing treaty negotiations in a land claim covering 36,000 square kilometres; represented supplier stakeholders in the Target Canada insolvency; acted for Mastermind LP, Canada’s largest specialty toy and children’s book retailer, in negotiating and finalizing 12 retail lease transactions in Ontario and other provinces; represented insurers involved in the Elliot Lake Mall collapse.

Star alumni: Former Ontario chief justice Roy McMurtry; Ontario Court Justice Feroza Bhabha; Ontario Superior Court Justice Janet Wilson; former Tax Court of Canada justice J.A. Brulé; Superior Court Master Robert Muir; Larry Grossman, former Ontario government cabinet minister and Ontario Conservative party leader.

Affiliations: TAGLaw; Ontario representative of the Risk Management Counsel of Canada

Firm history: Blaney McMurtry celebrated its 60th anniversary in 2014. The original firm, Blaney Pasternak, was founded by James Blaney and Irwin Pasternak in 1954. The late Bill McMurtry joined the firm in the early ’60s, building a litigation department that is now the core strength of the firm. In 1986, Blaney McMurtry Aarons & Watson merged with Stapells & Sewell, creating the nucleus of the firm that exists today. In subsequent years, the firm underwent several smaller mergers, lateral hires, and ensuing name changes. In 2000, the firm name was established as Blaney McMurtry LLP.

Clients are demanding, “and rightfully so,” increased efficiencies in the way things are handled, according to managing partner Maria Scarfo. “The better you can adapt to those client demands, the more successful you are. A real advantage to our firm is having had these challenges earlier from the larger institutional clients,” she says. “It’s hard when clients ask you to do things differently, but when you do it, you’ve met the challenge and there’s a source of pride in it.”

8) Minden Gross LLP

Total lawyers: 56

Office: Toronto

Core practice areas: Bankruptcy and insolvency; business law; commercial leasing and real estate; real estate; litigation; tax, wills and estate

Key clients: Bentall Properties Ltd.; Fieldgate Development Construction Ltd.; First Gulf Corp.; The Global Group, H&R REIT; Royal Bank of Canada

Notable mandates: Acted as counsel for Menkes Developments and Healthcare of Ontario Pension Plan to enable software developer PointClickCare’s takeover of all of Target Canada’s former headquarter space at AeroCentre V in Mississauga, Ont.

Star alumni: David Feldberg, president and CEO of Teknion; Mark Mandelbaum, co-founder of Lanterra Developments; Mark Weisleder, author, columnist and speaker; Tamara Vanmeggelen, senior counsel at Royal Bank of Canada; Neil Sigler, vice president of Gold Seal Management; David Glass, senior vice president of The Global Group; retired senator Jerry Grafstein.

Affiliations: Meritas Law Firms Worldwide

Firm history: Arthur Minden, Edwin Pivnick, and Morris Gross founded the firm in 1950. Very early, the firm gained a reputation for its skills in commercial real estate transactions. The firm added Jerry Grafstein and Herbert Greenstein in the 1960s and established corporate and civil litigation services to meet the growing needs of its clients. It has since expanded further, and, in 1992, it became an affiliate of Meritas Law Firms Worldwide, a global alliance of independent law firms.

“Minden Gross is first class in every respect,” wrote one survey respondent, adding that the firm’s lawyers have solid expertise and “keen business sense.”

“I work with numerous law firms in Toronto and Minden Gross stands apart for their excellent advice, service, and commitment to their clients’ success,” wrote another.

9) Gardiner Roberts LLP

Total lawyers: 65

Office: Toronto

Core practice areas: Corporate-commercial law; securities; commercial litigation; real estate; tax; health; IP

Key clients: Conundrum Capital; LawPro; Pharmascience Inc.; Toronto Real Estate Board; E.I. du Pont Canada Co.; Open Text Corp.

Notable mandates: Successfully represented former Toronto mayor Rob Ford in a libel and defamation action; representing former Liberal MP Borys Wrzesnewskyj in litigation proceeding contesting election in Etobicoke Centre; acting on the establishment of a large residential real estate private equity fund; a complex reorganization of an existing real estate private equity fund into private REIT in a matter involving investors such as Canada’s largest pension plans and mutual funds; acted for the purchaser in excess of 230 quick-service restaurants in Ontario, B.C., and Quebec.

Star alumni: Former Metro chairman “Big Daddy” Frederick Gardiner; former Superior Court justices J.J.J. Fitzpatrick and William J. Anderson; former Ontario Court of Appeal justice Lloyd Holden; Ronald J. Farano, who worked on policies preceding a significant overhaul to Canada’s federal taxation.

Affiliations: MSI Global Alliance

Firm history: Founded in 1920s, the firm has become a mid-size business law firm with a diverse client base that includes two of Canada’s largest banks, several medium- to large-size municipalities, agencies, boards and commissions, government entities, high tech and software companies, real estate developers, lenders, and investors.

“They offer big firm services with small firm personality,” one survey respondent wrote. Paul Stoyan, chairman of Gardiner Roberts, says the firm has seen its business grow over the past several years because it’s picking up some of the “lower-hanging fruit” from the larger firms, but he emphasizes it’s also capitalizing on a preference by some large corporations that are seeking regionally-based representation with mid-size firms.

10) Siskinds LLP

Total lawyers: 75

Office: London, 68; Toronto, 7

Core practice areas: Business law; class actions; litigation; labour and employment; personal injury

Key clients: Covers diverse sectors including business; finance; environmental; governmental; academia; real estate; franchisees and franchisors; as well as individuals for personal injury, class actions, and administrative legal services

Notable mandates: Currently co-lead counsel in the largest securities class action in Canadian history with Labourers’ Pension Fund v. Sino-Forest; represented the vendors in connection with the $92.5-million sale of their technology company; represented the minority shareholders in connection with the $500-million sale of their services company; won one of the largest medical malpractice awards in Canadian history with Boyd v. Edington, $15 million; was the first firm in Ontario to receive a class action certification in the province in 1992.

Star alumni: Superior Court justices David Broad, Denise Korpan,  and Laddie Haines. Ontario Court Justice Katie McKerlie.

Affiliations: Siskinds Desmeules

Firm history: Siskinds was founded in 1932 when Abe Siskind started practising law in London, Ont. The firm has continuously expanded its areas of practice through mergers with other firms as well as the recruitment of specialty lawyers. The class action team has expanded significantly to include an office in Toronto and affiliate offices in Montreal and Quebec City. The firm says it’s currently focused on becoming more aligned with the contemporary lifestyle of its clients.

“We’ve enjoyed some great success over the years, but we know that times are changing in our industry. We’re making a concerted effort to remain current and give our clients the service they expect from a law firm today,” says partner Fred Rose.


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