Top 100 Women - Canada


Dispute resolution
Top 100 Women in Litigation - Canada

National firm Borden Ladner Gervais boasts several candidates in the Top 100 Women in Canada across its several offices. Cynthia Clarke is Borden Ladner Gervais's regional managing partner and domiciled in the firm's Toronto office. Clarke's practice is focused on the health care industry, including civil litigation, regulatory actions and class actions. Toronto's Kate Crawford is the national business leader of the health law practice and focuses on civil litigation, public law actions and class actions. Nadia Effendi in the Toronto office is championed by peers as “a real force, a protégé of the great [Ottawa-based appellate guru] Guy Pratte and on her way to being one of the leading public law practitioners. She’s involved in a lot of inquiries and reviews, including some dealing with sexual misconduct claims among some of Canada’s armed forces and the non-profit that governs hockey.” Caitlin Sainsbury in Toronto is historically known for her securities work, but has been building out an increased profile in the competition space as of late. Sainsbury led a team that scored for Amazon in September 2022 by obtaining a stay in favor of arbitration of the representative plaintiff’s claims for purchases on Said claims, valued at $12 billion, alleged that the client conspired with third-party sellers to fix the prices of their products on Amazon's platforms. Kirsten Crain is based in the Ottawa office attends to a varied practice that blends commercial law, public and administrative law and intellectual property. Burnishing her credentials further, Crain receved the honor of being welcomed into the American College of Trial Lawyers in 2022. Sarah McEachern is based in the Vancouver office and has gained considerable traction in the arbitration and construction sphere. “I view her as one of the real upcoming leaders in that office now,” asserts a peer. Also based in the Vancouver office, Michelle Maniago focuses on class actions, mostly competition and consumer protection as well as shareholder litigation and privacy work. "I view her as one of the real upcoming leaders in that office now," asserts a peer.

Calgary's Louise Novinger-Grant manages a broad litigation portfolio that encompasses commercial litigation, professional negligence, arbitration and energy-related claims. "Louise is great and had a big win in 2019," testifies a peer, "on a milestone case concerning tort and breach of contract. She secured punitive damages."

Jordanna Cytrynbaum has cut a respected firgure in the Vancouver market for litigation acumen as well as her business-development savvy. "She is involved with me on a securities class action that was poised for the Supreme Court of Canada," testifies a peer. "She is super-smart, really strategic and always seems to be on some interesting cases." Toronto's Lara Jackson is co-head of Cassels' securities department and maintains a varied commercial litigation caseload that emphasizes class actions particularly. "Lara is a tough litigator," confirms a peer. "She manages some of the larger disputes, and I mean not only coordinating them but also doing all of the admin."

Melissa MacKewn, name partner at Toronto securities boutique Crawley MacKewn Brush, is championed by securities and regulatory peers on a near-unanimous basis. “Melissa is just excellent. She’s on for the former head of capital markets at Cormark.” This alluded-to representation involves said client’s alleged involvement in a short-selling scheme concerning another cannabis entity, Canopy Growth.

Kathryn Manning, the "M" in Toronto litigation boutique DMG Advocates, is focused primarily on shareholder disputes work and has also been growing her arbitration practice, which was further enhanced by her recent qualification to conduct neutral arbitrator work.

Ludmila Herbst is an all-purpose litigator who earned her stripes at Farris over the past several years and has since emerged as “a de facto leader now.” “Ludmila has fully taken over now in leading the team,” asserts a peer. “She is a top lawyer and person, she deserves all of the top billing she gets.” Herbst led a firm team that represents the Law Society of British Columbia, one of the participants granted standing in a commission inquiry that was established by the provincial government in 2019 to investigate allegations of money laundering in several specific industry sectors. Rebecca Morse attends to an insolvency and estate litigation practice, with a substantial level of this dedicated to the construction sector.

Toronto-based civil and administrative practitioner Gillian Hnatiw has amassed admirers on Bay Street over the course of her career trajactory, which has included stints at other renowned litigation shops before her strategic move of hanging out a shingle with her own eponymously named firm. "She's going to blow up," asserts one contemporary, speakng to Hnatiw's breakout status. "Her star is well on the rise." Building upon a niche in professional negligence - particularly regarding claims concerning abuse, assault and harassment - Hnatiw has boldly taken on venerated institutions in high-profile litigation actions and has been appointed for investigations and inquiries.

Audrey Boctor, who began her career at Cleary Gottlieb in New York and joined Montréal litgation boutique IMK in 2010, is a generalist, who is engaged in a lot of enforcement of arbitration awards, corporate commercial work, appellate work and a niche in public law. “Audrey is the queen of the public law cases,” states a local peer, “and she wins 99% of them!” Another raves, “Audrey just has this demeanor that is great,” extols a peer. “You want to work with her, and she gets involved in some very cutting-edge files.”

Calgary's Stacy Petriuk, who for three years held the Managing Partner position at the JSS Barristers boutique, attends to a broad spectrum of litigation matters encompassing commercial, class action and insolvency work. "Stacy is really stepping up," insists a peer.

Montréal-based Elisabeth Neelin practices commercial and civil litigation as well as professional liability and public law, often involving some cutting-edge issues. "I had a case against her," testifies another well known practitioner in this space, "and I think she's fantastic." Sophie Perreault joined Langlois from the Montréal office of a major global firm in 2019 and is considered by peers to be "quite a good recruit." Perreault is considered particularly well versed in fraud and regulatory proceedings, and had the honor of being welcomed into the American College of Trial Lawyers in 2022. Montréal-based Danielle Ferron attends to a varied litigation practice that particularly emphasizes claims related to fraud, which are often lengthy and complex. "I've had a lot of cases with Danielle," testifies a peer. "She has been asked to act as amicus in cases where there have been search warrants ordered, which is great work."

In the Calgary office of Western Canada powerhouse Lawson Lundell, Shannon Hayes was part a firm team that scored a significant victory for Remington Development in a commercial case in which CP Rail reversed course on a proposed sale of a parcel of land to Remington for a project involving unused rail property on the edge of Downtown Calgary, opting to sell it to the Province of Alberta at a higher price instead. After an eight-week trial, the Lawson team scored big for their client; although the project will now never advance, Remington was awarded over $160 million in damages. This matter has wowed the entire Calgary community. Shannon Wray has been busy with a number of cases over the past year, in addition to her efforts in driving and fostering the team culture in Calgary. Wray acted on a milestone commercial matter for Shaw in which the Western Canadian telecommunication entity would, if the plan receives final approval from regulators, combine with the more national-based Rogers in an ambitious expansion. Wray also acted on behalf of Crescent Point Energy in a $10 million commercial dispute. Marika Strobl comes equipped with a varied commercial practice. She has a particular strength in domestic arbitrations and, in one example, was part of a team representing key firm client TransAlata in post-arbitration appeals. Amy Nathanson is recognized as "a super talent with many good years ahead of her." Nathanson balances a varied practice composed of pension work, trust and estates and insolvency. Several of her cases touch on all three of these aspects at once. Vancouver's Nicole Skuggedal attends to a thriving labor and employment practice, including issues of wrongful dismissal, labor relations, human rights and privacy issues in courts, in arbitrations and before various tribunals. "I view her as very strong in the employment field," asserts a peer.

Nadia Campion is a peer and client favorite who attends to an all-purpose commercial litigation practice. "Nadia just has a good way about her," insists a peer. "She is very effective and good to deal with; people like her."

Dominique Ménard, Managing Partner of Montréal litigation boutique LCM, is mentioned in glowing terms. “She MUST be one of your top women litigators in Canada,” insists a peer. “She keeps getting these high-profile cases where she is retained as counsel for injunction matters, Anton Piller, Mareva, Norwich, just incredible.”

Murphy Battista continues to garner notice in Vancouver largely on the profile of Angela Bespflug, who has etched herself a position in the class actions community locally as well as on a more national level. Bespflug focuses on the plaintiff side of class actions, securing herself quite a loyal following in doing so. “Angela does a lot of federal court stuff – they brought her in because she has that expertise,” ventures a peer.

Shantona Chaudhury, who joined [veteran Toronto barrister] Paul Pape's firm in 2009 as a brand-new lawyer, got her name on the door with a firm name change to Pape Chaudhury in 2018. Chaudhury has blossomed into one of Toronto’s most promising young litigators. “Shantona is highly intelligent, a clear legal thinker [with] tremendous analytical skills – both oral and written,” testifies a client. “[She is] a hard-working, passionate advocate.” Cementing her stature in the Toronto market, Chaudhury was chosen as Co-Chief Commission Counsel on the Emergencies Act inquiry concerning the state of emergency called by the government concerning the 2022 “Freedom Convoy."

Linda Rothstein is a name partner of prized Toronto litigation shop Paliare Roland Rosenberg Rothstein and is acknowledged as "one of the shrewdest and most seasoned" litigators on Bay Street. She has been a member of the American College of Trial Lawyers since 2002 and is also a sought-after mediator and arbitrator. Megan Shortreed, a perennial favorite, continues to attract accolades for her diverse practice that covers commercial, employment litigation, administrative law and professional liability. Odette Soriano was part of a firm team that acts as class counsel in a certified class proceeding in which they recently obtained judgment in favor of class members, holders of registered accounts at BMO Nesbitt Burns and BMO InvestorLine who allege that, between 2001 and 2011, those companies charged undisclosed fees on foreign exchange transactions in their registered accounts. The Court ordered disgorgement of the profits the defendants generated on the approximately $102.9 million it obtained in breach of trust and breach of fiduciary duty. Soriano has a class-actions focus, with an additional niche in defamation. 

Laésha Smith, a quickly rising star within the securities community, joined Poulus Ensom Smith in 2022 and has gained considerable traction in the market – even so far as to getting her name on the firm’s door as of April 2023. “I find Laésha to be extremely effective, competent, strong in legal strategy, and has all the characteristics to be, if you will, a ‘lawyer’s lawyer,’” raves a client. “When acting as counsel to another lawyer (me), someone is watching over every piece of work that is completed, but I don’t think it fazes or intimidates Laésha. She is confident of her abilities and does not have any ego. Laésha gives thoughtful consideration to legal strategy and is open to wide range of ideas. If you need an out-of-the-box solution, she is your go-to lawyer. Not to mention that she is a highly empathetic and relatable lawyer, with just the right touch of professionalism and geniality, which I believe allows her to develop a strong lawyer-client rapport. On the file that she has represented us on, she applies just the right amount of politeness, friendliness, and aggressiveness with the opposing party to get us the results we want.”

Sharon Vogel is a name partner and construction luminary in the Toronto office of twin-pillared construction shop Singleton Urquhart Reynolds Vogel. Long an authority in this area, she has led some of the firm's (and the province's) largest mandates. Vogel 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.

Yoon Kang in the Toronto office of Canada's biggest and most comprehensive intellectual property shop Smart & Biggar works primarily in patent litigation, mostly in the pharmaceutical industry. Kang was part of a team that scored a major milestone win for Astra-Zeneca concerning their Nexium product at the Supreme Court of Canada in 2017. "Yoon was instrumental throughout the case," insists a peer. "She did all of the heavy lifting. This case had the most impact in patent litigation in the last 10, 15 years." Also in the Toronto office, Nancy Pei also works primarily in patent litigation, primarily in the field of life sciences. "Nancy has one big brain," enthuses a peer, "and it is on display at all times in patent work concerning some really cutting-edge areas like biotech."

DJ Miller is an insolvency luminary at Toronto boutique Thornton Grout Finnigan. “There is no better than DJ,” insists a client, furthering, “Over 35 years I have worked with many insolvency lawyers and she is the best – logical, tactical, straight to the point.” Miller leads many of her own insolvency files, many of them being novel and precedent-setting. Deborah Palter is one of the partners at Thornton Grout who attends to a broader commercial litigation practice. Among her recent high-profile engagements, Palter is representing a commercial landlord in a dispute with Hudson Bay Company, which failed to satisfy rent obligations throughout the course of the COVID pandemic.

Linda Plumpton in the Toronto office of Torys has been viewed as "a true litigation leader" by many prominent voices in the Bay Street community. Plumpton attends to a broad spectrum of commercial litigation matters and, over the years, has been at the forefront of some of Toronto's highest-profile disputes. "Linda is a fierce litigator," voices one peer, who testifies, "I went against her once and, afterward, I joked with her, 'Did you have to be so rough on me?' She just very professionally replied, 'Advocacy is advocacy.'" Sylvie Rodrigue, who launched Torys in Montréal and now splits her time between the firm’s two offices, is addressed as "a leader in class actions” according to a peer. “She is regarded as a senior litigator and has a reputation where she will take charge.” A client extols, “Sylvie is an excellent client-relationship manager and a great communicator. She always had a response to the opposition, and she did an incredible job representing me.” Rodrigue’s work is not limited to class actions; she recently successfully represented Olympic champion Mandy Bujold and the Canadian Olympic Committee in a discrimination legal challenge against the International Olympic Committee before the Court of Arbitration for Sports in Switzerland; in a human rights case with a core issue of discrimination based on sex in violation of the Olympic Charter, Swiss law and International law.

Margaret Waddell is one of two name partners at Toronto plaintiff class-actions shop Waddell Phillips, focusing on public law and social justice matters. “Marg wanted to do class actions, some more challenging ones, which may or may not be financially successful but are important to do,” asserts a supportive peer. Waddell's cases cover novel areas such as sexual assault, product liability, Aboriginal law, human rights and other areas that “get a lot of attention and political results.”