Canadian Lawyer asked lawyers and in-house counsel from across Canada to vote on Quebec’s top full-service, regional firms. 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 list. 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 primarily in the province of Quebec 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. Lavery De Billy (1)
Total Lawyers: 173
Lawyers by Office: Montreal, 146; Quebec City, 22; Ottawa, 5
Core Practice Areas: Business law; financing and financial services; litigation and dispute resolution; labour and employment law; environment, energy, and natural resources.
Key Clients: Hydro-Québec, National Bank of Canada, SNC-Lavalin Group Inc., Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec, Héroux Devteck Inc., Fiera Axium Infrastructure.
Notable Mandates: Acted for Industrial Alliance Insurance and Financial Services Inc. in the public offering of 4.75-per-cent fixed/floating subordinated debentures for gross proceeds of $250.1 million; negotiated a $2-billion agreement with the Quebec government for Hydro-Québec to obtain a 500 MW block of energy to allow for the expansion of phase III of Alouette Aluminium Smelter; assisted Stornoway Diamond Corp. in the development of agreements with the Government of Quebec concerning a 243-km extension of Highway 167 to connect the communities of Chibougamau and Mistissini with the Renard Diamond Project.
Star Alumni: Justice Richard Wagner of the Quebec Court of Appeal, Justice Lorne Giroux of the Quebec Court of Appeal; Justice Jacques Chamberland of the Quebec Court of Appeal; Sean Finn, executive vice president, corporate services and chief legal officer of Canadian National Railway; Donald McCarty, vice president, law, general counsel, and secretary of Imperial Tobacco Canada; Pamela McGovern, general counsel of Hydro-Québec.
Affiliations: World Services Group
The Firm: Lavery de Billy traces its roots to 1979, when Montreal firms O’Brien Smyth Guilbault Pryde Courtois and Lavery Johnston O’Donnell Clark Carrière Mason & Associés merged to become Lavery O’Brien. In 1991, the firm joined forces with Quebec City’s Gagnon de Billy Cantin Beaudoin Lesage & Associés, adopting the moniker Lavery de Billy. More than 30 lawyers from the now defunct Desjardins Ducharme law firm joined Lavery in 2007, bulking up its business law and commercial litigation groups.
Voters singled out Lavery for its diversity of expertise and solid client base. “The approach they have with clients is always personal and professional,” said one respondent. For another, the firm’s essential quality was its ability to find “timely and cost-effective solutions that fully address the client’s situation, without ever compromising excellence.”