August 4, 2009 12:50 PM
Canada Pays Record $57 Million to Law Firms in 2009
Posted by Brian Baxter
According to records obtained by The Lawyers Weekly, the Canadian government spent a record $57.1 million on outside law firms in the 2008-09 fiscal year. It's the most Canada has ever paid out to private law firms in one year and represents a 34 percent increase from legal fees paid in 2007-08. (All expenditures have been converted from Canadian dollars at the rate of $1 Canadian = $ 0.936 U.S.)
Weil, Gotshal & Manges led the pack of outside legal advisers with $7.7 million in billings. The Lawyers Weekly reports that Weil billed Canada's Department of Foreign Affairs for representing Canada in trade disputes with the U.S., including the firm's longtime role as coordinating counsel for the country in its 27-year-old softwood lumber war with the U.S.
The decades-long dispute flared up again this year, according to The Lawyers Weekly, leading to an increase in Weil's billables. (Who knew that we were at loggerheads with our northern neighbor for so long in a tiff over timber?)
The single-most important reason for the jump in outside legal fees is attributed to a 30 percent jump in drug prosecution billings, according to the article. In Canada, outside lawyers with more than ten years of experience can work as crown agents, where they report to the sovereign government in the province where they operate.
Several law firms in British Columbia that handle drug prosecutions-including Murchison, Thomson & Clarke and Jones & Co.--reaped more than $2.8 million in fees commensurate with the increase in work. British Columbia--known for its skiing, sightseeing, and political parties dedicated to the legalization of cannabis--is Ground Zero in Canada's drug war. (Click here and here for related stories.)
Perhaps the firm will crack the Canadian legal ranks of top billers next fiscal year, eh?Make a comment