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Large Firm Growth - 2014 Edition

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Every year, the Law Times releases numbers on how many lawyers are employed by the largest firms in Canada. I blogged about the trends that this survey shows last year (short version: little growth at the big firms).  Now that the Law Times has released its numbers for this year, we can run update the numbers and see if anything has changed.  Even with the recent fall of Heenan Blaikie, the trend seems to be fairly similar to last year: little growth overall at the big firms.

As with last year, we can look back at detailed numbers through 2010 (2009 for overall numbers, but only 2010 for the regional breakdown).

The biggest change, which impacts all of the regions, is the fall of Heenan Blaikie.  Heenan Blaikie was the 8th largest firm in Canada as of last year's number.  The lawyers who used to work at Heenan Blaikie are in the process of scattering to various different firms (some that are big enough to be included here, some that are not), so these numbers may be out of date already as hundreds of lawyers are in the process of joining new firms - presumably some of these changes are represented here, but given the timing, it is unlikely that most of them are.

Overall Numbers

Here are the overall firm sizes, by total number of lawyers, for the now 17 firms that appeared from 2010 through 2014, plus Heenan Blaikie:

 

 

Firm200920102011201220132014% Change
BLG722753781772753771+2.4%
Faskens669673686712765755-1.3%
Gowlings716717752754740707-4.5%
Norton Rose660660715678693699+0.9%
McCarthys648605609605586589+0.5%
Blakes586550597577575574-0.2%
Dentons (formerly FMC)552517512529540521-3.5%
Miller Thomson438431464490460482+4.8%
Stikemans517517503487480475-1.0%
Osler487472458440442444+0.5%
Bennett Jones344330362348369373+1.1%
Torys257244249280292303+3.8%
McMillan378390395395326299-8.3%
Davis LLP212218240241240252+5.0%
Davies269250240246242238-1.7%
Cassels Brock203202207207220215-2.3%
Goodmans203206208212211215+1.9%
Heenan Blaikie479493534561540- 
TOTAL 834082288512853484747912-7.5%
TOTAL (excluding Heenan)786177357979797379347912-0.3%

 

Excluding the Heenan Blaikie numbers, which make year-to-year comparisons a little tricky, the total number of lawyers at these big firms decreased from 7934 to 7912.  This is 0.3% of the total number, so I think it's fair to say the numbers are fairly steady, subject to what happens with the Heenan Blaikie fallout.  So, as with last year, growth (as far as number of lawyers) is fairly stagnant at the big firms over the past year.  The two biggest growers are Miller Thomson (+22) and BLG (+18).  The largest drop in number of lawyers Canada wide are Gowlings (-33) and McMillan (-27) - coincidentally (I hope), I was a lawyer at both Gowlings and McMillan in the past.

Ontario Offices

Here are the numbers for the Toronto offices of these firms (if a firm isn't on one of these lists, that means they didn't have more than a few lawyers in that location):

Firm20102011201220132014
Blakes277305288278277
Osler296290281284275
BLG288290292276272
McCarthys270280264256260
Torys212217226237239
Faskens218221223218225
Gowlings222222221221211
Cassels Brock202207207210202
Stikemans218215215208201
Goodmans196195197195201
Norton Rose185195202203200
Miller Thomson155161167152155
Bennett Jones134144132150155
Dentons175163165163149
McMillan230218218166148
Davies151144146143139
Davis LLP4446495054
Heenan Blaikie161181206187-

 

As well as the Ottawa offices:

Firm20102011201220132014
Gowlings162175175161157
BLG86111909998
Norton Rose3143384040
Dentons2627282527
Osler2520212224
Faskens1515192022
McMillan3031312418
Stikemans1714141313
Blakes13121343
Heenan Blaikie27312729-


Exclusing Heenan Blaikie again, we see a small decrease in total number of lawyers at the big firms in Toronto and Ottawa (53 fewer lawyers in total). I pointed out the interesting growth pattern at Heenan Blaikie's Toronto office last year - growing from 161 lawyers in 2010 to 206 in 2012, before dropping to 187 in 2013.  If I wanted to appear prescient, I would edit last year's entry to predict a collapse, but it seems like more work than it's worth.

Western Offices

Next up are the Western offices (keeping in mind that this is just offices for the large national firms, so big regional firms are not included).  

Calgary:

 
Firm20102011201220132014
Bennett Jones167178172173171
Norton Rose154160154156157
BLG110115117111115
Blakes949291105112
Dentons104104103105101
Gowlings10511511111196
Osler6056505462
McCarthys6759645861
Davis LLP3440395052
Stikemans5144353544
Faskens2625282829
Miller Thomson4240422732
McMillan2018181817
Heenan Blaikie31272826-

 

And Vancouver:

Firm20102011201220132014
Faskens137130135140136
BLG134134137132129
Davis LLP98971039898
Blakes8893869197
McCarthys8993968679
McMillan7488888383
Miller Thomson5560636665
Dentons5755606464
Gowlings5963635761
Stikemans4141354241
Goodmans1013151614
Heenan Blaikie44474741-

 

Calgary's big firms are still showing a little overall growth, although nothing to write home about, with Vancouver looking pretty steady overall.  I noted that Gowlings has 33 fewer lawyers in 2014 than in 2013 - a good chunk of that decrease (15) is in Calgary.

Montreal Offices

Last, but not least, here we have the Montreal offices:

Firm20102011201220132014
Norton Rose169182181182179
Faskens177174175158173
Stikemans168170163158153
BLG126121127125147
McCarthys169138142145146
Dentons8586909490
Davies8482858485
Gowlings8890908684
Blakes5969687065
Miller Thomson6058565362
Osler6767645861
McMillan3538413231
Davis LLP816101115
Heenan Blaikie155160163162-

 

Montreal is the city feeling the biggest hit from the Heenan Blaikie exodus, as Heenan Blaikie was the second largest firm in Montreal in 2013.  BLG and Faskens are the big movers over the past year, having increased by 22 and 15 lawyers, respectively.  This may be from them adding Heenan Blaikie lawyers, but the timing of the Law Times survey isn't clear as to how many of these lawyers would have moved in time to be reported here.

 

As with last year, the big caution here is that this just shows the growth (or lack thereof) of the big firms in Canada.  The number of lawyers at the big firms is a relatively small percentage of the number of lawyers practising across the country, so I wouldn't read too much into what these numbers might mean.  On the other hand, Heenan Blaikie's demise shows us that even big firms can fall apart, so it is interesting to keep an eye on these numbers to see if there's trouble on the horizon for any of the other big firms.

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