Fasken added a second office in British Columbia in February to strengthen its position in the legal market in Vancouver, BC. It acquired the boutique Surrey firm Roxwal in the process. Meghan Tribe of the The American Lawyer magazine interviewed me on Fasken’s move. Canadian Firm Fasken Bolts on Boutique for Second British Columbia Base
“It’s probably, some would say, the fastest growing city in Canada,” said Colin Cameron, a Canadian legal consultant and founder of Profits for Partners, Management Consulting Inc.
And while there are global legal giants like Dentons, DLA Piper and Norton Rose Fulbright with offices in Vancouver, those firms don’t have as many people on the ground as Fasken, which boasts 140 lawyers in its Vancouver office alone, Cameron said.
Fasken’s absorption of Raxwal is a part of a larger trend in the Canadian legal market, which is seeing local and domestic firms consolidate operations as larger Canadian firms continue to expand their operations, said Cameron, the legal consultant.
While Canada’s legal market saw much of the same during the 1990s and 2000s, this was mainly due to the threat that accounting firms once placed on legal services providers up north, and which now remains a concern of some firms south of the Canadian border. But now there’s a different threat above the 49th parallel.
“Now it’s the international firms that everybody’s merging up to compete against,” Cameron said.
Norton Rose Fulbright was the first to enter the Canadian legal market in 2010 with its tie-up with 450-lawyer Ogilvy Renault. A year later the firm absorbed Calgary-based Macleod Dixon, and in late 2016 Norton Rose Fulbright moved into Vancouver by acquiring 92-lawyer local firm Bull, Housser & Tupper.
In late 2012, Dentons announced a three-way combination involving 560-lawyer Canadian firm Fraser Milner Casgrain. DLA Piper then entered the Canadian market in 2015 via its combination with Davis, a 260-lawyer firm based in Vancouver. (DLA Piper subsequently closed a legacy Davis office in the frozen Yukon territory.)
The entrance of international firms into the Canadian legal market puts pressure on domestic firms like Fasken to shore up a pipeline of work from clients, Cameron said. And one way to do that is to consolidate.”