The newer generation of lawyers in Canada adapted to the many necessary changes impacting the globe and the legal profession. And their success in the face of such adversity furthered a tradition of excellence in the country.

Transitions and accommodations have been made out of necessity and it is easy to overlook the progress of rising legal professionals achieving impactful results in and out of the courtroom. That is why the inaugural edition of Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch in Canada is so special.

The publication recognizes 588 lawyers from 102 firms in Canada who handle a range of matters—from aviation accidents to zoning laws—and demonstrate their potential as future leaders of the profession.

Just as with traditional The Best Lawyers in Canada, the methodology for determining Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch in Canada remains based in peer review, with the notable difference that all candidates may vote for each other. Best Lawyers Senior Research Manager Kristen Greer said that the voluminous and varied talent supply throughout the Canadian provinces warranted the need to highlight attorneys who are still early in their careers.

“Providers of legal services is a competitive and crowded market and through recognition in Ones to Watch, an attorney can distinguish themselves and their work from their peers,” said Kristen, who spearheaded production of the Canada publication. “Clients also can feel good about selecting a specific lawyer who has third-party verification for their own specific needs.”

Highlighting Canada’s Uniqueness

The distinctiveness of Canada’s culture is mirrored by its legal landscape, which Best Lawyers has always aimed to spotlight.

“Canada is fascinating because it has taken its own cultural strengths and combined it with the steeped traditions from French civil and British common law,” Kristen said. “So, maybe it’s not using wigs, but it still leans on precedents. Partner that with the major global economy to the south and you have an incredibly important player.”

Some of the newer generation of Canadian lawyers are harnessing their country’s position as a global leader in the profession.

“I think the strength of Canada’s mid-market makes practicing corporate transactional law in this country unique,” said Rebecca Cochrane, a corporate practitioner with Wildeboer Dellelce in Toronto. “The prevalence of entrepreneurs and businesses that are driven by owner-operators creates a different landscape than one dominated by goliaths. I work with a broad range of clients, from large institutions to small start-ups, but many fall somewhere in the mid-market. I think that breadth is special in Canada, and I enjoy tailoring my advice to the different needs of my clients.”

Pritika Deepak, an associate in the Tax and Wills and Estates group of Fogler Rubinoff in Toronto, echoed those sentiments. She said Canada’s generally positive reputation in the world can impact how cases are handled in and out of the courtroom.

“Canada has the distinction of being one of the most attractive destinations for immigrants and foreigners from various parts of the world,” Deepak said. “This title often brings with it a variety of cross-border and international legal issues which must be considered. Further, it is becoming increasingly common for Canadians to travel abroad and to own property in multiple jurisdictions. Based on its location and reputation, the Canadian legal landscape mandates an awareness of the legal principles in various jurisdictions and their corresponding implications in Canada.”

Personal Perspectives from Canada’s Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch

On more individual levels, being named to Best Lawyers: One to Watch validates honorees for the time and effort invested in their careers and education.

Chloé Fauchon, who practices Administrative Law at Lavery de Billy in Quebec, said inclusion in Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch validates a commitment she made to herself during the her early career.

“I want to both laugh and cry at the same time. I am proud to have persevered and am touched to receive this acknowledgment from my peers,” said Fauchon, who noted that her formative years after passing the bar were very challenging. “If I could talk to the lawyer I was in 2014, I’d tell her to be more patient and to trust herself.”

Fauchon added that lawyers can find success by understanding the importance of “being present,” even if it is through a computer or phone screen. “We mustn’t underestimate the wonderful bonds that can be forged—even virtually—when working with colleagues on a common project,” she said.    

Charles Ceelen-Brasseur, a member of the Business Law group at Lavery de Billy in Montreal, said it was particularly gratifying to be recognized during a time when the profession was undergoing an obligatory upgrade.

“This acknowledgment comes at a very special time, as I feel 2021 has been a pivotal year for the legal industry that had to modernize many of its aging processes in a matter of weeks,” he said. “I always felt like the legal industry has been lagging behind other industries on its use of technology, but I am happy to notice that this has changed considerably in the past few years.” 

Rebecca Cochrane said she has also seen the upside potential that has arisen in recent years.

“Working in emerging areas has been an exciting and rewarding experience,” Cochrane said. “In many ways it has also presented an incredible opportunity for young lawyers. In these new industries, the legal playing field is relatively level; no one is an expert yet, so young lawyers have an opportunity to develop expertise at the same time as everyone else.”

Providing A Glimpse of Future Best Lawyers

Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch produces lists for Canada, United States, Germany and France, with awards issues being planned for Australia, Japan and Spain in the coming years. With each Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch edition, readers will gain insight on how the profession is evolving—from new firms and regional expansion to specialized practice areas.

Kristen said that younger Canadian talent has become more diverse in a demographic sense, but it is also evident in the practice areas of the Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch.

“Of course, many recognitions fall into the major parts of any legal market, such as Mergers and Acquisitions or Tax,” Kristen said. “But we also have recognitions in new and rapidly developing areas such as Privacy and Data Security Law or Cannabis Law, which is expanding and reshaping the legal landscape.”

Society will always need the assistance and support of legal counsel. Kristen noted that by maintaining the basic Best Lawyers vetting process, consumers will be assured that they have selected the right Best Lawyers: One to Watch lawyer for their specific needs.

“In our candid peer review, we ask how likely a voting lawyer would be to recommend another lawyer for a matter, and that gets to the heart of what people want to know: whether or not a person is the best to handle a matter for them,” she said. “We think our methodology does that very well. Corporate counsel departments have a plethora of guidelines used to make a final choice, but we have a role in helping them make a final decision. The areas to make an impact are wide open for young Canadian lawyers. They are definitely the ‘Ones to Watch.’”

The spirit of camaraderie and support seems to be a common thread throughout this current generation of Canada’s rising legal minds. Awardees like Fauchon noted that the importance of remaining engaged in the Best Lawyers: Ones To Watch voting process.  

“I remember seeing the names of colleagues I admire in the nomination list,” Fauchon said. “These people have always been a great source of inspiration for me as a young lawyer, inspiration that helps me surpass my own limits. Recognition like this inspires the legal community to strive for excellence.”

Ceelen-Brasseur said it even creates bonds that might not otherwise have existed.

“The legal profession is confrontational in its nature as we often sit opposite our peers at the negotiation table or in the courtroom, which makes it difficult to acknowledge the achievements and successes of our peers,” Ceelen-Brasseur said. “A platform such as Ones to Watch in Canada removes this barrier and provides the ideal opportunity to congratulate our peers, which in turn helps build a strong legal community.”


Justin Smulison is a professional writer who regularly contributes to Best Lawyers. He was previously a reporter for the New York Law Journal and also led content and production for the Custom Projects Group at ALM Media. In addition to his various credited and uncredited writing projects, he has developed global audiences hosting and producing podcasts and audio interviews for professional organizations and music sites.