40 & Under List - Canada


Dispute resolution
40 and Under Canada

Loni da Costa in the Calgary office of Borden Ladner Gervais attends to a multifaceted practice that is largely focused on oil and gas. She also has a niche intellectual property, with a number of patent-related matters to her credit. Also in the Calgary office, Erin Cutts focuses primarily on construction and surety cases. Cutts is addressed by a peer as "a young partner who is fully engaged, very detail-oriented, and has very deep relationships with clients. To the point that my phone doesn’t get used as much as it could." Andrew Punzo is based in the Toronto office and maintains a practice that is largely dedicated to the construction industry. A peer confirms, "Andrew is very good with bonding cases and is getting a lot of work in the surety space." Also in Toronto, Graham Splawski manages a diverse basket of commercial litigation. Splawski's practice encompasses securities, competition, fraud actions and banking disputes. Toronto's Isaac Tang is the leader of the firm's EMER (Environmental, Municipalities and Expropriation) group. Tang is known for acting for private sector authorities.

Paul Chiswell is one of the more recent partners at Calgary shop Burnet Duckworth & Palmer and, according to peers, "has come a long way in a short time." Chiswell attends to a varied commercial practice that encompasses securities, oil-and-gas litigation and class actions. Susan Fader attends to a blend of practices that straddles commercial litigation, energy litigation, construction and labor and employment. A client testifies, "Susan was meticulous in detail in preparation for trial." Joanna Luu maintains a generalist approach to commercial litigation. Luu is also involved in the arbitration sphere and recently had the honor of being named to the roster as one of the "Next Gen" arbitrators with the venerated Arbitration Place network.

Christopher Horkins, in the Toronto office of Cassels Brock, attends to a commercial litigation practice that encompasses franchise law, product liability, securities and class actions. A peer raves, "[He is a] smart, capable, well put-together lawyer [who] probably doesn't get the kudos he deserves."

Michael Byers, a young star at Toronto securities-focused boutique Crawley MacKewn Brush, is praised by a client as “highly dedicated, committed to client service, perceptive and very intelligent. He quickly became an expert in my situation and was proactive, caring and got me the best possible outcome.” Dana Carson, a new partner at Crawley MacKewn, made her debut as a future star in the 2023 edition of Benchmark Canada. Carson is acting for the defendants in a proceeding seeking payment of over $7 million pursuant to a guarantee.

A relatively new partner at Toronto Boutique DMG Advocates, John Mather has attended to a diverse workload that includes appearances on an automotive class action as well as acting as duty counsel to individuals involved in a high-profile inquiry concerning COVID-related deaths at long-term care homes. Mather has also been developing an inquiry-related practice; this burgeoning practice was given a significant boost in profile with his representation of a justice in an inquiry regarding the “State of Emergency” act introduced by government to address the controversial Freedom Convoy, which blockaded Canadian roadways in early 2022 to oppose COVID vaccine mandates. “This is a real feather in John’s cap,” opines a peer. “His days as an ‘emerging star’ are just about over, he’s getting to be one of the busiest and most diverse people [at DMG.]” Mather is also developing a niche in cryptocurrency.

At Vancouver's historic institution Farris, relatively new partner Kevin Smith, who attained this status as of January 2022, is said to have “taken up the cudgel of public law cases, a practice once dominated by universally respected former Farris partner, the late Joe Arvay.” Enthusiasm is also on the rise for new partner Yun-Li Reilly. “I think she’s quite good,” testifies a peer. “I had a file with her on which she was junioring, and I was very impressed with her.” Li-Reilly defended Simon Fraser University and a former PhD Candidate and sessional instructor against allegations by another former PhD Candidate and sessional instructor who was terminated by the University, who claimed conspiracy to defame on the part of the defendants.

David Ethier is one of the youngest parters at Montréal litigation boutique IMK but is already making his presence felt in the community, even taking an award in 2020 for civil and commercial litigation by the Young Bar of Montréal. A broad-based commercial and civil litigator, Ethier has a special emphasis on real estate and property law, construction disputes and insurance litigation. Over the years he has also developed an expertise in estate law.

Katherine Loranger in the Montréal office of Québéc regional powerhouse Langlois attends to a multifaceted practice that incorporates construction, insurance, professional liability and product liability. She also maintains a niche practice in fraud matters, which encompasses extraordinary remedies like injunctions and seizures. Renee-Maude Vachon in the Québéc City office is primarily dedicated to litigation involving insurance. This practice often finds her in cases in the construction and real estate fields.

Laura Bevan operates from both the Vancouver and Kelowna offices of Western Canada powerhouse Lawson Lundell and is known as being one of the firm's most promising young stars with a varied commercial practice. "Laura is fantastic," raves a peer. "I have a lot of time for her. She is a real force to be reckoned with, very effective and gets good mandates." In the firm’s Calgary office, Jonathan Selnes is a recent entrant into the firm partnership, becoming an equity partner in 2022. Selnes maintains a broad practice, with a focus on the province's robust energy sector. In one example, he was part of a team acting on behalf of Crescent Point Energy in a $10 million commercial dispute. “Jonathan is great,” extols a peer. “I’m seeing more of him lately, and for good reason. He’s got some chops.”

Matthew Law of Toronto litigation powerhouse Lax O'Sullivan Lisus Gottlieb has been an integral part of several of the firm's key mandates alongside more senior partners. In one example, he is part of a team that is counsel to a group of standardbred horse breeders who brought a claim against the provincial government and the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation in connection with the termination of revenue sharing under the “Slots at Racetrack Program” in 2012. He was also a key member of a team acting on a hotly contested dispute concerning the ownership of Rogers Communications. Brad Vermeersch has been an integral part of several of the firm's key mandates alongside more senior partners. In one example, he was part of a team that was counsel to the plaintiffs in claims against their builders’ risk insurer for breach of contract, breach of duty of good faith and fair dealing, and bad faith. In another, he is a key member of a team that is litigation counsel to the Ottawa Light Rail Transit Constructors, a joint venture builder of a major Light Rail Transit project.

Julien Archambault is considered "one of the primary engines driving the momentum in construction litigation" at Montréal litigation boutique LCM. Archambault is heralded by a more senior peer as “a name in the construction field that is so robust. I worked on matters with him, and I felt like a super-junior lawyer. I said, ‘I’m feeling stupid next to you!’” Marie-Noël Rochon is another star quickly on the rise at LCM. One peer testifies, “I speak to my friends in the securities field and they love her. Securities is hard because it’s highly regulated, you have to have some economic background. She superbly has risen up to almost at the level of some of the biggest securities trial lawyers in Québéc. That is not something I would say lightly!”

Lindsay Scott, historically a commercial litigator, has been one of Paliare Roland's most visible employment litigators of late. “There was quite a bit of this during the pandemic, as you can imagine,” voices a peer. “Mandatory vaccinations, accommodations, etc., and Paliare, and Lindsay in particular, is developing quite a niche in the C suite. Lindsay has also done a lot of workplace investigations.”   

Jesse Gardner, a partner in the Toronto office of twin-pillared construction shop Singleton Urquhart Reynolds, was part of a firm team that was retained by the City of Ottawa in relation to various construction disputes and more recently the provincial public inquiry into the commercial and technical circumstances that led to Stage 1 breakdowns and derailments of the Ottawa Light Rail Transit system. James Little in the Toronto office acts on a mandate involving the construction of the Stouffville RER Stations and Grade Separation, which is a large infrastructure project in Ontario with a total original program value of approximately $CAD255 million. This project includes the construction of several GO transit stations and a rail corridor grade separation in anticipation of the Regional Express Rail project in Ontario. Gardner and Little are viewed as “the firm's future leaders, very bright and promising lights in that office.” Daniel Barber is a recent entrant into the partnership at the Toronto office and attends to a varied commercial litigation practice, including playing an integral role in some of the firm's high-level mandates, while also maintaining a niche practice in insurance.

Jean-Sébastien Dupont, based in the Montréal office of Canada's largest and most comprehensive intellectual property entity Smart & Biggar, is a multi-faceted IP partner whose practice runs the gamut of industries. His practice includes a case involving novel technologies, with a recent example being 3-D printing. Dupont was also part of a team that represented Videotron, laying claim to a rare summary trial for copyright infringement in the Federal Court addressing a specific provision of the Copyright Act that allows for the retransmission of certain over-the-air stations by authorized broadcasters. Graham Hood, based in the Toronto office, is the firm's trademark practice group leader. A client raves on Hood's behalf, "Graham is a fantastic business partner with excellent business acumen, brilliant legal expertise and a pleasure to work with."

Justin Safayeni at venerated Toronto litigation bouqtique Stockwoods continues to make remarkable strides. “People like Justin leading inquests is great,” offers a peer, “and you’re starting to see people like him taking over as first chair on cases – they’re no longer on the precipice.” Safayeni, an all-purpose practitioner, is especially revered for his media and defamation law practice. “He is a member of the Canadian Media Lawyers Association!” Carlo di Carlo, another quickly risen star at Stockwoods, attends to a varied practice that touches on all aspects of commercial litigation and regulatory actions. He was part of a team that achieved a milestone December 2022 victory for the former Chairman of the Board for embattled cannabis entity CannTrust, who was facing charges of securities fraud and insider trading.

Jeremy Opolsky is one of the younger stars in the Toronto office of Torys and maintains a varied commercial practice that also incorporates public law and insolvency. Opolsky led a file in which he successfully obtained an $11.3 million judgment on behalf of KSV Restructuring as the Trustee-in-Bankruptcy of Forma-Con, an affiliate of Bondfield Construction. Opolsky also works on the firm’s role as Canadian counsel to Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals, which filed for bankruptcy in 2020 as a result of being ensnared in the sweeping litigation against opioid manufacturers and distributors.

Cory Wanless was welcomed into the firm partnership of Toronto plaintiff class-action boutique Waddell Phillips two years ago and has hit the ground running, building a relatively new practice that focuses on human rights and corporate and police accountability. Wanless is leading litigations against a Canadian mining company that was alleged to have engaged in egregious behavior in Guatemala, including violence and rape, and is also leading matters concerning alleged racial profiling in various capacities of local law enforcement.