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Large Firm Growth - 2015 Edition

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Once again, Law Times has released some numbers on the sizes of some of the largest law firms in Canada.  I've written about this in 2013 and 2014 (short version - large firm growth was stagnant).  Law Times has released its 2015 numbers, and the trend from the past few years appears to be continuing.

When we looked at the number of lawyers employed by the largest 17 firms in Canada, it showed that the number of total lawyers had decreased by 0.3% from 2013 to 2014.  Why the top 17 firms?  Law Times reports on the top 20 firms - with mergers and the failure of Heenan Blaikie in 2014, this leaves us with 17 firms that have been in the survey since 2010, giving us a chance to look at the trends at these firms over that period.

In what is now a well established pattern, there hasn't been much change overall.  Since 2011, the number of lawyers at the 17 biggest firms has bounced around between 7912 and 7978.  This year there has been a slight increase over 2014, with 47 additional lawyers (an increase of 0.6% overall).

Law Firm Sizes (2015)

The biggest increases are at Faskens (which added 39 lawyers, and has now passed BLG to take the #1 spot) and Blakes (which added 29 lawyers, to squeak past McCarthys).  The biggest decreases are at McMillan (down another 24 lawyers, and down 120 from the post Lang Michener merger high) and Goodmans (down 21 lawyers, which is a pretty big hit, considering that it is the smallest firm on the list).

Of course, with Heenan Blaikie having disappeared, one can wonder what these numbers would look like without some of the former Heenan Blaikie lawyers being taken up by some of these firms.

Looking at the breakdown by city, the lawyer counts at all of the big cities are fairly steady this year.  Although you might expect a big shift to or from Calgary over the last few years, with the shifting oil prices, there is no big shift that shows up in these numbers.

Ultimately, since the Heenan Blaikie collapse (happening shortly before the 2014 numbers came out), there hasn't been much movement.  No big growth, but no big losses.  As always, a few firms have added some, and a few firms have lost a few.  Even McMillan, which has been decreasing in size ever since the Lang Michener merger is shriking at a smaller rate than past years.  All-in-all, despite Davis LLP becoming DLA Piper, the past year has been fairly dull on a macro level.


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