Canada boasts an abundance of lawyers, with a legion of practitioners that has grown steadily over the last decade, from just under 70,000 in 2001 to more than 91,000 in 2011.
While there is no shortage of lawyers, for those seeking to retain legal services, it can be difficult to know how to find the top lawyers.
An exclusive list published by Best Lawyers in Canada helps. The annual ranking makes it easy to find the top legal minds in this increasingly crowded field by shining a discerning spotlight on the select few who are recognized experts in their practice area. This year, 4,118 lawyers in 70 practice areas earned a spot on the prestigious Best Lawyers list.
ABOUT BEST LAWYERS
"These are the cream of the crop," says Phillip Greer, chief operating officer of South Carolina-based Best Lawyers International, which has been publishing the world's premier guide for the legal profession for over 30 years and now provides lists for more than 65 countries. "If you're looking for the best of the best, the top of the top in Canadian law, this is where they are."
Best Lawyers is a peer-reviewed guide to the country's legal experts, driven by a unique and robust methodology. Lawyers are nominated to Best Lawyers primarily by other lawyers, clients and marketing teams. Best Lawyers generates and distributes confidential ballots to lawyers who are already on the list and asks them to rank lawyers within their network of similar practice areas. The thinking behind the approach is that a lawyer who practises customs and international trade law, for example, would be familiar with other lawyers in this area as well as those in similar fields.
Voting lawyers must answer the question: "If you could not handle a case yourself, to whom would you refer it?" They then grade nominees on a scale from one to five, with five being the highest – indicating they would certainly refer a case to the nominee – and one being the lowest. Nominees who get the highest grades become part of the Best Lawyers list.
"Anyone can submit a nomination and anyone can be nominated for any given practice area and city," says Mr. Greer. "Because this is a list of the best in the industry, most people who get nominated have been practising for at least 10 years and are well known in legal circles. And that's important, because if people don't know you and your work well enough, then they won't be able to rank you."
The purpose of the Best Lawyers list is to connect clients with lawyers and to confirm what they may already know about a lawyer they are considering or currently working with.
"If you're looking for the best of the best, the top of the top in Canadian law, this is where they are."
- Phillip Greer
is chief operating officer of Best Lawyers International
"It validates our expertise and gives them assurance," says Sean Weir, national managing partner and CEO at Borden Ladner Gervais LLP, which has more than 750 lawyers, intellectual property agents and other professionals in six Canadian cities. "If we're doing a pitch or RFP, it's helpful for us and for the prospective client to have independent verification when we're talking about the expertise of our lawyers."
The fact that Best Lawyers is peer-driven carries a lot of weight and makes its results highly credible, says Mr. Weir, whose firm has 214 lawyers ranked in this year's guide and holds the distinction of the highest number of lawyers rated in six consecutive years.
Stephen Pike, external managing partner at Gowling Lafleur Henderson LLP, says rankings and surveys with strong credible input provide an important data point for in-house counsel, business executives and any consumer of legal services.
"As a data point for new and existing clients, Best Lawyers provides credible information to help them make a sound decision when selecting a lawyer," says Mr. Pike, whose firm earned spots on the list for 145 lawyers across 42 practice areas.
"We are committed to providing the best information for Best Lawyers so they get the appropriate input and research they need to fulfill their objectives," he adds. "We know that when people are selecting legal service providers, they want as much credible information as possible."