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Top full service firms in Ottawa

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Can anyone share their opinion about which full service law firms in the Ottawa region are considered the most sought for articling students? More specifically, I'd like to have an idea as to which firms are considered the biggest and most competitive in the market. 

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Are the large full service firms even doing the articling recruit in Ottawa? They might have filled their spots from the 2L. I know only one (Blakes) is doing the Toronto articling recruit (so I guess they'd be the most desirable in Toronto on account of having zero competition, go Blakes!) 

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I cannot comment on the articling rates. But BLG, Gowling, Fasken Martineau, McMillan seem to have an upper hand on the Ottawa market (like they do in other markets). Check NALP, it has a tremendous amount of statistics regarding your exact question.

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Gosling WLP is big in Ottawa. Norton Rose Fulbright has a good presence in Ottawa as well, and are very competitive. Really though, all of the big OCI players are extremely competitive. I don't know that any of them are more or less competitive than the others once you get to that level. 

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On 6/28/2017 at 5:21 PM, ericontario said:

Gosling WLP is big in Ottawa. Norton Rose Fulbright has a good presence in Ottawa as well, and are very competitive. Really though, all of the big OCI players are extremely competitive. I don't know that any of them are more or less competitive than the others once you get to that level. 

I thought Gosling merged with Morgans.

 

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5 hours ago, Nutty said:

I thought Gosling merged with Morgans.

 

Haha. Obviously an autocorrect error. Meant Gowlings. 

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Gowlings, Faskens, Norton Rose, Dentons, and McMillan are all nominally full-service firms that have Ottawa offices. Their offices vary by size (which would affect your chances for summer/articling/hireback), but NALP has all of that information already. Stikes has an office there too, but IIRC it specializes in competition law (if you're into that sort of thing).

As far as Ottawa-only firms go, you could do much worse than Perley-Robertson.

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47 minutes ago, ericontario said:

Haha. Obviously an autocorrect error. Meant Gowlings. 

Morgans would rather have Gosling. ;)

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On 8/21/2017 at 6:32 PM, SpringfieldMonorailCo said:

Gowlings, Faskens, Norton Rose, Dentons, and McMillan are all nominally full-service firms that have Ottawa offices. Their offices vary by size (which would affect your chances for summer/articling/hireback), but NALP has all of that information already. Stikes has an office there too, but IIRC it specializes in competition law (if you're into that sort of thing).

As far as Ottawa-only firms go, you could do much worse than Perley-Robertson.

 

In Ottawa, Stikeman has approximately 12 lawyers, McMillan has approximately 16, and Dentons isn't much bigger if I recall correctly. Ottawa seems to be unique in that Ottawa-only firms still make up a bulk of the market. 6 of the 10 biggest firms in Ottawa listed in the link that I provided above are Ottawa-only firms. Further, I've heard of numerous students who received interviews at the national firms while not receiving any at the Ottawa firms. Finally, in terms of salary, the articling and presumably the first-year associate salaries paid by those same 10 firms will generally be in the same range if not exactly the same at the Ottawa firms as the national firms. For these reasons, referring to the various national firms as the "top full-service firms" in Ottawa by virtue of their national reputation isn't very helpful. 

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5 hours ago, GeeGee2016 said:

 

In Ottawa, Stikeman has approximately 12 lawyers, McMillan has approximately 16, and Dentons isn't much bigger if I recall correctly. Ottawa seems to be unique in that Ottawa-only firms still make up a bulk of the market. 6 of the 10 biggest firms in Ottawa listed in the link that I provided above are Ottawa-only firms. Further, I've heard of numerous students who received interviews at the national firms while not receiving any at the Ottawa firms. Finally, in terms of salary, the articling and presumably the first-year associate salaries paid by those same 10 firms will generally be in the same range if not exactly the same at the Ottawa firms as the national firms. For these reasons, referring to the various national firms as the "top full-service firms" in Ottawa by virtue of their national reputation isn't very helpful. 

Just note that there are several National firms in Ottawa that pay Bay street rates to their associates (I'm not entirely sure about articling salary but it's close). This is because a lot of the Ottawa lawyers also work on Toronto matters. It's a pretty sweet deal to be paying for an Ottawa cost of living while bringing in Bay street money.

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12 hours ago, TheScientist101 said:

Just note that there are several National firms in Ottawa that pay Bay street rates to their associates (I'm not entirely sure about articling salary but it's close). This is because a lot of the Ottawa lawyers also work on Toronto matters. It's a pretty sweet deal to be paying for an Ottawa cost of living while bringing in Bay street money.

Can you specify which firms do that? That is pretty interesting, and like you said, a very good deal.

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8 minutes ago, Marwaho said:

Can you specify which firms do that? That is pretty interesting, and like you said, a very good deal.

The ones that immediately come to mind are Oslers Ottawa (100K/year) and Smart & Biggar Ottawa (it was 90K/year for a while but that might have gone up to 100) -- what makes SB so attractive is their target is only 1500 hours (compared to between 1750-1950 at other Ottawa firms). 

Edited by TheScientist101

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13 hours ago, TheScientist101 said:

Just note that there are several National firms in Ottawa that pay Bay street rates to their associates (I'm not entirely sure about articling salary but it's close). This is because a lot of the Ottawa lawyers also work on Toronto matters. It's a pretty sweet deal to be paying for an Ottawa cost of living while bringing in Bay street money.

 

48 minutes ago, TheScientist101 said:

The ones that immediately come to mind are Oslers Ottawa (100K/year) and Smart & Biggar Ottawa (it was 90K/year for a while but that might have gone up to 100) -- what makes SB so attractive is their target is only 1500 hours (compared to between 1750-1950 at other Ottawa firms). 

 

Hm... interesting. But as interesting as that is, I don't think Osler or Smart & Biggar are representative of the Ottawa market in general or Ottawa salary expectations in particular. Correct me if I'm wrong, but does Osler not only hire students looking to specialize in IP? In addition, I think their Ottawa office has less than 20 lawyers. As for Smart & Biggar, again, there's the requirement that the student be looking to go into IP.   

That being said, and with respect to articling, my research indicated that salaries are generally in the same range across the board, particularly in the above-mentioned list. There are of course exceptions that go both ways. For example, a quick NALP search indicates that BLG pays less for articling than basically all of the other firms in the list, including the Ottawa-only firms. Stikeman on the other hand is the only firm I've been able to find that pays something close to a Bay Street salary for associates, though its articling salary is in the normal range for the Ottawa market. But again, given Stikeman's specialized practice and its size in Ottawa, I'm not sure if that really indicates anything significant about Ottawa salary expectations.

Long story short, I haven't been able to find a huge degree of variance among the Ottawa firms (both national and Ottawa-based) in terms of salary, for the early years at least. There are of course exceptions, like the ones you pointed us to, however, I don't think students should be led to believe that only the National firms can provide top-quality experiences in this city, as the Ottawa-only firms seem to still have a significant role to play in Ottawa's legal market. 
Edited by GeeGee2016
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11 minutes ago, GeeGee2016 said:

 

 

Hm... interesting. But as interesting as that is, I don't think Osler or Smart & Biggar are representative of the Ottawa market in general or Ottawa salary expectations in particular. Correct me if I'm wrong, but does Osler not only hire students looking to specialize in IP? In addition, I think their Ottawa office has less than 20 lawyers. As for Smart & Biggar, again, there's the requirement that the student be looking to go into IP.   

That being said, and with respect to articling, my research indicated that salaries are generally in the same range across the board, particularly in the above-mentioned list. There are of course exceptions that go both ways. For example, a quick NALP search indicates that BLG pays less for articling than basically all of the other firms in the list, including the Ottawa-only firms. Stikeman on the other hand is the only firm I've been able to find that pays something close to a Bay Street salary for associates, though its articling salary is in the normal range for the Ottawa market. But again, given Stikeman's specialized practice and its size in Ottawa, I'm not sure if that really indicates anything significant about Ottawa salary expectations.

Long story short, I haven't been able to find a huge degree of variance among the Ottawa firms (both national and Ottawa-based) in terms of salary, for the early years at least. There are of course exceptions, like the ones you pointed us to, however, I don't think students should be led to believe that only the National firms can provide top-quality experiences in this city, as the Ottawa-only firms seem to still have a significant role to play in Ottawa's legal market. 

I think Oslers also hires regular stream students - at least they used to - I'm not sure if it's changed. You are correct about SB it's IP only. 

I agree - those places are not reflective of the over-all Ottawa market - but it's important to know that the Ottawa market is by no means uniform and some Ottawa shops pay quite a lot for first year associates (as an aside I think that more associates entering the Ottawa market so use these numbers as bargaining chips to bring the Ottawa market up in salary). I also agree that you certainly do not need to go to a National firm to receive top-quality experiences, and some Ottawa only firms also pay quite well (for example, I also know some students in boutique Ottawa-only firms make 60K during articling - which is above the usual 50K that National firms pay). 

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