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Large Firm Growth

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The Law Times has released its annual "Largest Law Firms in Canada" numbers.  While I suspect it's of interest largely for bragging rights between the various big firms, it's also interesting to see how the big firms have been changing over the past few years.  So below, I'll summarize some of the numbers with a few quick comments.

Fortunately, Law Times still has its numbers from 20101, 20112 and 20123, in addition to this year, so we can take a look back to see the trends over the past few years.  With apologies for the formatting, here are the numbers.

Overall Numbers

Here are the overall firm sizes, by total number of lawyers, for the 18 firms that appeared from 2010 through 2013:

Firm20092010201120122013
BLG722753781772753
Faskens669673686712765
Gowlings716717752754740
Norton Rose 4660660715678693
McCarthys648605609605586
Blakes586550597577575
FMC552517512529540
Heenan Blaikie479793534561540
Stikemans517517503487480
Miller Thomson438431464490460
Osler487472458440442
Bennett Jones344330362348369
McMillan 5378390395395326
Torys257244249280292
Davies269250240246242
Davis LLP212218240241240
Cassels Brock203202207207220
Goodmans203206208212211

 

Generally, things have been pretty steady (some may say stagnant).  There are 8,474 lawyers employed by these 18 firms, which is down a little less than 1% from 2012.  Numbers are up at some places (52 new faces at Faskens, 21 new faces at Bennett Jones) and down at others (McMillan is down 69 lawyers and Miller Thomson is down 30 lawyers).

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):

Firm2010201120122013
Osler296290281284
Blakes277305288278
BLG288290292276
McCarthys270280264256
Torys212217226237
Gowlings222222221221
Faskens218221223218
Cassels Brock202207207210
Stikemans218215215208
Norton Rose185195202203
Goodmans196195197195
Heenan Blaikie161181206187
McMillan230218218166
FMC175163165163
Miller Thomson155161167152
Bennett Jones134144132150
Davies151144146143
Davis LLP44464950

 

As well as the Ottawa offices:

Firm2010201120122013
Gowlings162175175161
BLG861119099
Norton Rose31433840
Heenan Blaikie27312729
FMC26272825
McMillan30313124
Osler25202122
Faskens15151920
Stikemans17141413
Blakes1312134


On average, Ontario offices have shrunk a bit over the past year, although most firms are holding fairly steady in Toronto and Ottawa.   In total, there are 131 fewer lawyers combined in the Toronto and Ottawa offices of these firms, which is almost a 3% change from 2012.  5 firms are down by at least 10 lawyers in Toronto, with only two having added more than 10.  Interestingly, after a couple years of >10% growth in the Heenan Blaikie Toronto office, it gave up some of those gains in 2013 (although it is still up 16% from 2010).

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:

 
Firm2010201120122013
Bennett Jones167178172173
Norton Rose154160154156
BLG110115117111
Gowlings105115111111
Blakes949291105
FMC104104103105
McCarthys67596458
Osler60565054
Davis LLP34403950
Stikemans51443535
Faskens26252828
Miller Thomson42404227
Heenan Blaikie31272826
McMillan20181818

 

And Vancouver:

Firm2010201120122013
Faskens137130135140
BLG134134137132
Davis LLP989710398
Blakes88938691
McCarthys89939686
McMillan74888883
Miller Thomson55606366
FMC57556064
Gowlings59636357
Stikemans41413542
Heenan Blaikie44474741
Goodmans10131516

 

Things are looking a little better than in Ontario, in that things are more stagnant in the west, as opposed to some small losses.  The Calgary offices in the big firms have increased by a few lawyers since 2012 (5, to be exact), while the Vancouver offices are down by 12.  Blakes and Davis are the only notable increases in 2013.

Montreal Offices

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

Firm2010201120122013
Norton Rose169182181182
Heenan Blaikie155160163162
Faskens177174175158
Stikemans168170163158
McCarthys169138142145
BLG126121127125
FMC85869094
Gowlings88909086
Davies84828584
Blakes59696870
Osler67676458
Miller Thomson60585653
McMillan35384132
Davis LLP8161011

 

This looks fairly similar to the Ontario picture, in that the numbers are down a few per cent in 2013 (1418 lawyers in 2013, versus 1455 in 2012).   The drops are pretty consistent across the board, with almost every firm having fewer lawyers in Montreal in 2013.  The biggest growth is FMC increasing from 90 to 94 lawyers.

 

Ultimately, I'm not sure there's too much to take from all this.  Large firms are only part of the legal landscape, so it doesn't really talk about overall numbers and it doesn't really address the sizes of strong regional firms.  But it is fairly clear that there isn't a lot of internal growth at the big firms over the past few years.  Some firms have had their ups and downs, but other than through mergers, there haven't been any big movers since 2009.


1 http://www.lawtimesnews.com/201003016474/Headline-News/Top-20-law-firms-of-2010, which conveniently also has some top line numbers for 2009

2 http://www.lawtimesnews.com/201102288269/Headline-News/Largest-law-firms-in-Canada

3 http://www.lawtimesnews.com/images/stories/PDFs/top%2020%20law%20firms%202012.pdf

4 This includes both the Ogilvy Renault and Dixon McLeod numbers prior to their merger.

5 This includes both McMillan and Lang Michener numbers prior to their merger.

 

 

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