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CMPA Law Firms in Canada

Canadian Medical Protective Association

Law Firms in the Community Dedicated to the CMPA

Several law firms in Canada aggressively defend doctors, nurses, and other health workers who are charged with wrongful acts. The court venue may be civil or criminal. These firms earn the name CMPA Law Firms because they represent the interests of the Canadian Medical Protective Association.

We speak not of administrative law: There are indeed CMPA in-house attorneys who carve out the combative bylaws of this organization, and these attorneys deserve evaluation, a topic covered in our companion article CMPA: Stacking the Judicial Bench. The article on this page speaks of trial law, specifically medical malpractice litigation, whose attorneys interact directly with the public when an individual case reaches the courtroom.

These external law firms – with offices scattered across cities in Canada – settle into the community and often accept a variety of legal cases. But whenever a health tort crosses their door, the firm works directly with, and is beholden to, the CMPA. Part of the program is to instigate, at the local level, scorched-earth tactics against the opposition which are incubated at CMPA headquarters (located in Ottawa).

These community firms take as clients physicians, nurses, hospitals, and virtually any other healthcare provider who falls from grace during the performance of their job. Such a client is always the Defendant. Cases cover the spectrum from a malpractice trial in civil court, to financial fraud investigated by the College, to an assault charge against a doctor heard in criminal court.

The Plaintiff in each case (for example, an injured patient) would well avoid consulting an attorney from a CMPA Law Firm. But how can a Plaintiff know whether a conflict-of-interest exists? Below we identify the major law firms which align themselves closely with the CMPA. There is one table for each province, with the firms listed by name, size, and city. Some law offices have more than one branch (in different cities).

Information Sources

Our main source was the Canadian Lexpert Directory whose comprehensive annual surveys use peer reviews to identify which counsel the Canadian legal profession regards as the top in various practice areas. Cumulative recognition achieved by lawyers in Lexpert surveys over the years also counts. The survey response rate is high – in 2014 82.75% of attorneys responded.

We report all firms who weigh heavily in the field of medical malpractice – the criteria is whether the firm has a large Med-Mal department and restricts those clients to Defendants. The quantity of firms is surprising. For practical reasons we do not report firms whose interest in Med-Mal is minor (there are too many, and there is crossover where malpractice Plaintiffs are accepted as well as Defendants). Regarding law-firm size:

  • Our tables list the total number of attorneys in each branch office – a measure of the firm's provincial presence. We counted partners, associates, and full-fledged attorneys. We excluded corporate counsel, paralegals, articling students, students-at-law, law clerks, and administrators.
  • The size of a law firm fluctuates, often drastically due to mergers. The dominant CMPA firm, Gowling Lafleur Henderson LLP, merged in July 2015 with an international firm, thereby doubling its overall size.
  • The number of Med-Mal specialists within a firm also fluctuates as individual attorneys make career moves. To find the current number, visit a firm's website, click the tab labeled People or Team, and count the specialists in the relevant practice area (medical defence, malpractice, negligence, personal injury).

Tables:  CMPA Law Firms in Canada

British Columbia
Law Firms Representing Malpractice Defendants
Law Firm City Law Firm Size
Alexander Holburn Beaudin & Lang LLP Vancouver 75
Bull, Housser & Tupper LLP Vancouver 95
Guild Yule LLP Vancouver 34
Harper Grey LLP Vancouver 55
Law Firms Representing Malpractice Defendants
Law Firm City Law Firm Size
Bennett Jones LLP Calgary 171
Dentons Canada LLP Calgary 103
Gowling Lafleur Henderson LLP Calgary 94
Jensen Shawa Solomon Duguid Hawkes LLP Calgary 34
Norton Rose Fulbright Canada LLP Calgary 157
Bennett Jones LLP Edmonton 36
Field Law Edmonton 64
McLennan Ross LLP Edmonton 56
Ogilvie LLP Edmonton 36
Parlee McLaws LLP Edmonton 50
Torry Lewis Abells LLP Lethbridge 7
Law Firms Representing Malpractice Defendants
Law Firm City Law Firm Size
McKercher LLP Regina 15
McKercher LLP Saskatoon 42
Law Firms Representing Malpractice Defendants
Law Firm City Law Firm Size
Aikins, MacAulay & Thorvaldson LLP Winnipeg 97
Law Firms Representing Malpractice Defendants
Law Firm City Law Firm Size
Lerners LLP London 71
Borden Ladner Gervais LLP Ottawa 96
Cogan Law Ottawa 1
Gowling Lafleur Henderson LLP Ottawa 166
Soloway Wright LLP Ottawa 29
Adair Barristers LLP Toronto 5
Benson Percival Brown LLP Toronto 25
Borden Ladner Gervais LLP Toronto 272
Dutton Brock LLP Toronto 48
Fogler, Rubinoff LLP Toronto 106
Gowling Lafleur Henderson LLP Toronto 219
Lax O’Sullivan Scott Lisus LLP Toronto 23
Lenczner Slaght Royce Smith Griffin LLP Toronto 53
Lerners LLP Toronto 48
McCarthy Tétrault LLP Toronto 269
Miller Thomson LLP Toronto 154
Smockum Zarnett Percival LLP Toronto 13
Stieber Berlach LLP Toronto 31
Law Firms Representing Malpractice Defendants
Law Firm City Law Firm Size
Bélanger Longtin Avocats Montréal 22
Borden Ladner Gervais LLP Montréal 125
Chenette Litigation Boutique Montréal 6
McCarthy Tétrault LLP Montréal 151
McCarthy Tétrault LLP Québec City 29
Stein Monast LLP Québec City 57
Nova Scotia
Law Firms Representing Malpractice Defendants
Law Firm City Law Firm Size
Cox & Palmer Halifax 59
Stewart McKelvey Halifax 96
New Brunswick
Law Firms Representing Malpractice Defendants
Law Firm City Law Firm Size
Stewart McKelvey Moncton 16
Cox & Palmer Saint John 33
Stewart McKelvey Saint John 27
Prince Edward Island
Law Firms Representing Malpractice Defendants
Law Firm City Law Firm Size
Stewart McKelvey Charlottetown 30
Newfoundland / Labrador
Law Firms Representing Malpractice Defendants
Law Firm City Law Firm Size
Cox & Palmer St. John’s 40
Curtis, Dawe St. John’s 15
Stewart McKelvey St. John’s 33
Georgena S. Sil
Saskatoon, Canada
Physicist & Technical Writer
Alumnus: University of British Columbia
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The Way of Silence by Frantisek Kupka

The Way of Silence

František Kupka

The role of the intellectual, so it is said, is to speak truth to power. Noam Chomsky has dismissed this pious tag on two grounds:

For one thing, power knows the truth already; it is just busy trying to conceal it. For another, it is not those in power who need the truth, but those they oppress.

Terry Eagleton

British Literary Critic

Gowlings Law Firm

Gowlings Law Firm

The Gowling Law Firm, founded by Gordon Gowling, has acted as General Counsel for the CMPA from 1945 to the present (see chart at end of sidebar).

In time, some Gowling attorneys penetrated into politics and the judicial system. Examples:

Attorney: Became:
Ray Hnatyshyn Governor General of Canada
Roy McMurtry Attorney General of Ontario, and
later Chief Justice of Ontario
Lawrence Cannon Canadian Foreign Minister, and now
Canada's Ambassador to France

In July 2015 Gowlings announced a merger with British-based firm Wragge Lawrence Graham & Co.

Gowlings Law Firm
Suite 2600, 160 Elgin Street, Ottawa


Gowling Lafleur Henderson
Scorched-Earth Trials

Carbone v Whidden 2014 ABCA 415

Angela Carbone sued Dr. Peter Whidden for a botched surgery. The Defendant doctor hired Alberta law firm Gowling Lafleur Henderson, and in particular attorney M.L. McMahon.

Ms. Carbone filed a separate claim on the basis that defendant Dr. Peter Whidden along with his attorney McMahon harassed and defamed her in the medical malpractice action, and engaged in other forms of misconduct which caused her damage.

Gowling Lafleur Henderson
CMPA General Counsel

Bearden v. Lee 2005 ONSC 13453

Dr. John W. Crosby spent thirty years acting as a medical expert for the CMPA. Crosby in his sworn Affidavit described CMPA policy:

As I understand the CMPA system of case management, there is a very centralized system of retainer and control over the lawyers involved, emanating principally from the Gowlings firm in Ottawa, from where the CMPA’s General Counsel practices.

From my observation and belief, the General Counsel and those lawyers and other staff who work on CMPA matters, as well as the staff of the CMPA itself… follow each case very closely to ensure that it is, from the CMPA’s perspective, efficiently and properly handled.

Gowling Lafleur Henderson
CMPA Counsel Since 1945

A History of the CMPA

The CMPA published a glossy, commemorative booklet titled History of the CMPA in 2001, on the 100-year anniversary of their founding. The booklet says:

Although not members of the CMPA staff, our General Counsel (attorneys) work so closely with the executive officers and the members (doctors) in trouble, they too are seen as the face of the organization.

The Gowling law firm succeeded as General Counsel of the CMPA in 1945. The Gowling firm has changed its name but remains as CMPA's General Counsel to this day.

The History booklet includes a Roll of Service:

Years General Counsel: Firm
and Consulting Attorney
1945-1950 Gowling, MacTavish, Watt, Osborne & Henderson
J. Douglas Watt
1950-1961 Gowling, MacTavish, Osborne & Henderson
Duncan K. MacTavish
1961-1970 Gowling & Henderson
E. Peter Newcombe
1970-1988 Gowling & Henderson
Charles F. Scott
1988-1995 Gowling, Strathy & Henderson
Kenneth G. Evans
1995 + Gowling Lafleur Henderson
Margaret Ross

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