Montreal-based litigation boutique Woods was awarded Best Firm of the Year in Quebec at the awards Benchmark Litigation Awards 2022 of Canada, held in front of 160 guests on May 5 at the Fairmont Royal York, in the Queen City.
“It’s the prize we coveted the most,” says Me Louis Seveno, partner of the firm. It rewards the team’s effort and it’s a great showcase for us vis-à-vis national law firms, adds the lawyer,” welcoming the positioning conferred on the store as a must-have on the market.
Specializing in litigation, arbitration and insolvency, Woods, created in 1995 by the lawyer James A. Woodsis put on the front of the stage for the fourth consecutive year.
Made up of a small team of 40 lawyers, including a dozen partners, the boutique firm beats the big firms nominated in the category, such as Davies Ward Phillips & Vineberg, McCarthy Tétrault and Stikeman Elliott.
The firm Benchmark even qualifies it as the “strongest litigation group in Quebec”.
There were also two other boutique firms in the list of nominees, IMK and LCM.
“It is the recognition by our peers that we are part of a club select. It’s a great business card for our current clients and for potential clients,” rejoices Me Sévéno, whose talent was confirmed this year, as he goes from Future Star at Litigation Star on the Benchmark charts.
Another distinctive feature of the boutique firm: the in-house training of young lawyers.
“At Woods, junior lawyers are very involved in cases from the start. They gain experience very quickly,” indicates the 2004 Bar.
Benchmark also praises the “collegiality” within the team, its ability to retain talent and recruit new ones. Woods has indeed strengthened its team by welcoming in 2021 Me Sylvain Rigaud, Bar 1990, specialist in insolvency and restructuring. The latter practiced for more than 23 years for the firm Norton Rose Fulbright.
This small team, highly specialized in litigation, is an asset in the face of competition from large firms, assures Me Sévéno.
“We stand out for the excellence of our work,” he says. As a specialized team, all of our focus is focused on conflict resolution. But also by the wide variety of disputes we deal with”.
The firm-boutique counts Videotron among its customers. He represented the company and TVA before the Court of Appeal in 2015 against Bell ExpressVu and obtained a capital judgment of more than $82 million for his clients. These damages compensated for the loss of revenue Videotron suffered “due to Bell’s negligence to adequately control the piracy of its own satellite signals in the distribution of television services”, indicates Woods.
Recently, Me Patrick Ouellet, star of the firm and the pleading in Quebec, allowed Videotron to acquire 5G licenses, thus facilitating the development of the company in Western Canada, recalls the firm Benchmark Litigation.
They lead several large-scale cases, having notably represented Richter in multiple proceedings involving the company Montreal Maine & Atlantic for its role in the Lac-Mégantic tragedy, which resulted in a settlement of 403 million dollars; they recently represented Air India in its litigation against the International Air Transport Association, and also represented one of the parties involved in the major restructuring of Nemaska Lithium, to name a few cases.
For Me Sévéno, these distinctions by peers show that boutique firms have their place in this type of ranking and that “our work can be compared to that of a large firm”.
On an individual level, alongside Louis Sévéno, nine lawyers from the firm have been appointed Litigation Star of the year by Benchmark.
It is Caroline Biron, Bogdan Catanu, Marie-Louise Delisle, Stephen L. Drymer, Patrick Ouellet, Sylvain Rigaud, Richard Vachon, Sylvain A. Vauclair, James A. Woods.
The lawyers Eric Bedard Bogdan-Alexandru Dobrota were awarded the title of future star.
The Benchmark Litigation firm monitors the development of legal firms worldwide. Its ranking is based on interviews with legal professionals. Find all the winners of the Benchmark Litigation Canada Awards 2022 here.