Seven Sisters (law firms)

The Seven Sisters refers to a historical collection of seven law firms with offices in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.[1]


The term "Seven Sisters" was originally coined by John Alexander Black, founder of Lexpert magazine (now owned by Thomson Reuters). At the time, the Seven Sisters dominated the Canadian M&A legal advisory rankings. However, by 2006, Black stated "the moniker may have run its course and that some people argue the Seven have shrunk to two or possibly three."[2] Later that year, The Globe and Mail reported the Seven Sisters term was no longer valid, explaining that "as the Canadian pool of major companies boils down to a thin concentrate, the upper legal tier has also shrunk." It noted that "most observers agree the reigning top players are McCarthy Tetrault LLP, Stikeman Elliott LLP, Osler Hoskin & Harcourt LLP and Blake Cassels & Graydon LLP."[3] As of 2017, only five of the original seven have become national law firms in Canada – the aforementioned four plus Torys LLP.

In 2015, The Globe and Mail reported that the market had changed markedly from the early 2000s: "Elite U.S. legal shops blanket the top 25 firms for M&A, taking 13 of the top spots on the chart."[4] According to Bloomberg (FY 2015), the top 10 legal advisors by M&A transactions with any Canadian involvement were Simpson Thacher (NY), Sullivan & Cromwell (NY), Osler (TO), Skadden (NY), Torys (TO), Bennett Jones (TO), Shearman (NY), Davis Polk (NY), McCarthy (TO), and Morrison & Foerster (SF), signalling the integration of Canada into the larger North American market.[5]

The 'club of nine' was a similar term used in the UK until it was replaced by the Magic Circle.


In alphabetical order the Seven Sisters included: Blakes, Davies, Goodmans, McCarthy, Osler, Stikeman, and Torys.

Largest Law Firms in CanadaEdit

The American Lawyer Global 200, first published in 2018, included a total of six Canadian law firms, excluding Gowling WLG which operates as two separate partnerships across the Atlantic.[6][7] The Bank of Canada reported the 2017 CAD/USD exchange rate at 0.770.[8]

Canada Rank Global Rank Name Revenue (US$) Revenue per Lawyer (RPL, US$) Number of Lawyers Profit per Equity Partner (PPP, US$) Number of Equity Partners Leverage Headquarters Number of offices Year established
1 78 Osler[9] 570,960,000 1,272,000 449 1,272,000 219 1.05:1 Toronto, ON 6 1862
2 86 Blakes[10] 480,480,000 777,000 618 837,000 265 1.33:1 Toronto, ON 9 1856
3 93 McCarthy[11] 460,976,000 766,000 602 768,000 210 1.87:1 Toronto, ON 7 1855
4 126 Fasken[12] 359,840,000 480,000 749 N/A N/A N/A Toronto, ON 10 2000 merger
5 132 BLG[13] 346,320,000 497,000 697 N/A N/A N/A Toronto, ON 6 2000 merger
6 147 Stikeman[14] 300,815,000 640,000 470 N/A N/A N/A Toronto, ON 7 1952

Separately, The Toronto Star reported that Torys had estimated revenues of CAD 275 million in 2006, prior to the opening of its Montreal and Calgary offices.[15] In 2007, Lexpert also reported that since Torys' merger with New York-based Haythe & Curley,[16] Torys "has consistently ranked among the four most profitable large law firms in the Toronto market, during which time it has made up more than half the gap between itself and the top-ranked firm. This is significant because, accordingly, the four most profitable firms have for the last few years been in a group by themselves: there is a considerable drop-off in profitability between the fourth-ranked firm and the fifth-ranked firm, and between the fifth-ranked firm and the sixth-ranked firm."[17]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Hasselback, Drew (28 March 2014). "Drew Hasselback: 'Seven sisters' no longer rule the Bay Street roost". Financial Post. Postmedia. Retrieved 4 August 2017.
  2. ^ "Clouds darken legal horizon, Black warns". The Globe and Mail.
  3. ^ "The law page". The Globe and Mail.
  4. ^ "Foreign law firms, banks moving up Canadian M&A ranks". The Globe and Mail.
  5. ^ "2015 Legal Advisory Ranking" (PDF). Bloomberg.
  6. ^ "The First Global 200 Survey Shows a Massive Revenue Gap". The American Lawyer.
  7. ^ "About the Structure of Gowling WLG". Gowling WLG.
  8. ^ "Annual Exchange Rates". Bank of Canada.
  9. ^ "The 2018 Global 100 Ranked by Revenue". The American Lawyer.
  10. ^ "The 2018 Global 100 Ranked by Revenue". The American Lawyer.
  11. ^ "The 2018 Global 100 Ranked by Revenue". The American Lawyer.
  12. ^ "The Global 200 Ranked by Revenue". The American Lawyer.
  13. ^ "The Global 200 Ranked by Revenue". The American Lawyer.
  14. ^ "The Global 200 Ranked by Revenue". The American Lawyer.
  15. ^ "Black saga hasn't hurt law firm". The Toronto Star.
  16. ^ McCarthy, Shawn (2003-12-29). "Canadian law firms compete to attract lucrative U.S. deals". The Globe and Mail. Archived from the original on 2019-03-20.
  17. ^ Lexpert (2007). "Torys: Evolution of an Icon". Archived from the original on 2019-03-20. Retrieved 2019-03-19.