Gowlings merger creates top-three Canadian firm

Two of Canada’s leading firms are merging to form one of the top three firms in the country – the second big merger in Canada in as many months.

Leading technology law firm Gowling Strathy & Henderson, which has more than 450 lawyers, is teaming up with 100-lawyer Quebec firm Lafleur Brown.

Gowling Strathy has offices in five cities across Canada, but until now had no office in Quebec. The link-up with Montreal firm Lafleur gives the IT/IP firm a more national practice.

The merged firm will be called Gowling Lafleur Henderson.

Gowling Strathy managing partner Scott Jolliffe says: “Our merger with Lafleur Brown is our response to our clients’ needs, particularly in high-tech and corporate commercial law.

“They look to Gowlings to provide legal services in many different areas across Canada and globally – from start-up, on major transactions and in litigation.”

He says that although the firm will now be the third largest in Canada he is more interested in putting together a strong team of people across the country than in size.

The new firm will also merge with a seven-man boutique firm in Vancouver which specialises in corporate finance and securities. Montpellier McKeen Varabioff Talbot & Giuffre will team up with Gowling Strathy’s existing Vancouver office.

Lafleur Brown’s managing partner Luc Lissoir says many firms are merging due to the booming Canadian economy.

He says: “Why are we now merging so much in Canada? I guess it’s the right time. A lot of firms had affiliations which they set up over the years, and now they are trying to transform those into mergers.

“There is a lot of economic activity in Canada at the moment so all the markets are profitable and it’s a good time to merge for everybody.”

Last month five Canadian firms merged to create a 590-lawyer firm (The Lawyer, 6 March). At the time, Borden Ladner Gervais claimed to be the second largest in the country, but Gowling Strathy will now rival it.