|Type||Limited Liability Partnership (Private)|
|Headquarters||Toronto and Ottawa|
Gowlings' current Chair and Chief Executive Officer is R. Scott Jolliffe.
Gowlings traces its origins to the firm Henderson & McVeity, which was founded in Ottawa in 1887. As the firm grew over the next century, its name passed through numerous permutations, but three figures remained dominant: Gordon Gowling, George and Gordon Henderson. In the 1980s, the firm expanded beyond its traditional Ottawa base, establishing offices in Toronto, Kitchener, and Moscow. Starting in the mid-1990s, Gowlings methodically solidified a national platform through a succession of mergers with other law firms in Vancouver, Hamilton, Calgary, Montréal, Toronto and Kanata. In order to avoid certain complications created by the mergers, the firm officially adopted the simple brand name, "Gowlings" (which had long been in informal use).
Proximity to government accounts for the diversity and non-transactional bias of Gowlings' legal specialties. While the practices of the so-called Seven Sisters firms are weighted predominantly towards Business law, this is only one of the three pillars (and an area in which the firm is planning growth) which constitute the core of Gowlings' practice. The other two are Advocacy and Intellectual Property law. Other notable strengths include technology, international trade, environmental, energy, financial services, government relations and administrative law.
The firm's various practices are broadly organized into eight Industry Groups: Energy; Financial Services; Government; Infrastructure; Life Sciences; Manufacturing and Distribution; Mining; and Technology.
1970 - The Firm assumes the name Gowling and Henderson (after founders Gordon Gowling and Gordon F. Henderson) in Ottawa
1980 - Gowling and Henderson open a Toronto office
1986 - Gowlings merges with Simmers, Harper and Jenkins in Waterloo
1987 - Gowlings celebrates 100 years
1989 - Gowlings merges with the Toronto firm Strathy, Archibald Seagram to form Gowling, Strathy & Henderson
1992 - Gowlings opens an office in Moscow serving Russia, the CIS and the Baltic states
1994 - Gowlings opens an office in Vancouver
1995 - Gowlings opens its Hamilton office
2000 - Gowlings arrives in Calgary, merging with Code Hunter.
2000 - Gowlings merges with Lafleur Brown of Montréal, and Vancouver’s Montpellier McKeen VarabioffTalbot and Giuffre to become Gowling Lafleur Henderson LLP.
2001 - Gowlings merges with Calgary-based Ballem MacInnes LLP
2001 - Gowlings merges with Smith Lyons LLP, enhancing IP and business law capabilities, and positioning Gowlings as the second largest law firm in Canada
2006 - Gowlings opens an office in Kanata
2008 - Gowlings establishes new corporate governance model with an Executive Committee and Board of Trustees
2008 - Gowlings opens an office in London, U.K.
2011 - Gowlings opens the Gowlings International Inc. Beijing Representative Office in Beijing, China
Notable (past and present) members of the firm include
- Leonard Walter Brockington (1888–1966). Founding chairman of the CBC, 1936-1939
- Gordon F. Henderson (1912–1993). President of the Canadian Bar Association, 1979–1980; Chancellor of the University of Ottawa, 1991-1993
- Roy McMurtry (1932- ). Attorney-General of Ontario, 1975–1985 and Chief Justice of Ontario, 1996-2007 
- Ray Hnatyshyn (1934–2002). 24th Governor-General of Canada, 1990-1995
- Ian Scott (1934–2006). Attorney-General of Ontario, 1985-1990
- Donald Mazankowski (1935- ). Deputy Prime Minister of Canada, 1986-1993
- Martin Cauchon (1962- ). Minister of Justice (Canada) and Attorney General of Canada, 2002–2003 ; Minister of National Revenue (Canada), 1999-2002
- Lawrence Cannon (1947- ). Minister of Foreign Affairs (Canada), 2006-2008 and Stephen Harper's former Quebec lieutenant
- http://www.legalweek.com/legal-week/news/2078914/canada-s-gowlings-set-beijing-office-launch Gowlings Opens Office in Beijing. Retrieved 2011-11-14
- "The 30 Largest Law Firms in Canada" (PDF). Lexpert Magazine. 2007. Retrieved 2008-02-04.Gowlings holds the top position, with 704 lawyers cited, while Borden Ladner Gervais LLP is listed as the second largest Canadian firm, with 703 lawyers.
- "Establishing a Business in Canada. Backgrounder". Gowlings bulletin. Gowling Lafleur Henderson LLP. 2004. Archived from the original on 2006-10-30. Retrieved 2007-02-05.
- The predecessor firm of Henderson & McVeity was MacTavish and MacCracken, founded in 1877. George F. Henderson and MacCracken became partners in 1889.
- Melnitzer, Julius (May 2001). "Can He Pull It Off? The Gowlings Gamble". Lexpert Magazine (May 2001): 72.
- Pitts, Gordon. "Gowlings cements giant merger". The Globe and Mail (July 5, 2001): Canadian Business.
- Macaulay, Ann. "By Any Other Name". Canadian Lawyer (November/ December 2000): 12.
- Midddlemiss, Jim (2006-11-01). "Law Firms Raise the Bar". National Post. Retrieved 2007-02-08.
- Black, John Alexander (January 2003). "The Seven Sisters". Lexpert Magazine (January 2003): 76–77.
- Melnitzer, Julius (May 2001). "Can He Pull It Off? The Gowlings Gamble". Lexpert Magazine (May 2001): 76.
- "Corporate Work". The 2006 Who's Who in Canadian Law Firms. Lexpert Magazine. 2006-01. Gowlings is cited as being "determined to break into the top tier" of corporate players. However, the firm does not qualify for inclusion in Lexpert's chart which rates the major business law firms in the important Toronto market, nor in Vancouver; while Gowlings is placed merely on the periphery of the Montreal and Calgary rankings. (See charts # 1, 3, 5 and 6. Archived from the original on 2006-12-09. Retrieved 2007-02-05. Check date values in:
- Brockington, Leonard (1954). "St. George and Merrie England". The Empire Club of Canada Speeches 1953-1954. The Empire Club Foundation. Retrieved 2007-02-05.
- "CBA Past Presidents". Canadian Bar Association. 2006. Retrieved 2007-02-05.
- "Past Chancellors of the University". Administration & Governance. University of Ottawa. Retrieved 2007-02-05.
- McNish, Jacquie (2007-06-05). "McMurtry's pro bono crusade". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 2007-06-08.
- "Hnatyshyn named Chancellor". Carleton University. 2002. Retrieved 2007-02-05.
- Horgan, Mary Ann; Sine MacKinnon (1997-05-30). "Justice deCarteret Cory, Ian Scott, and Mel Lastman to receive honorary degrees from York University". Media Release Archive (York University). p. 1. Retrieved 2007-02-05.
- "Rt. Hon Donald F. Mazankowski". Forbes.com. Forbes. Retrieved 2007-02-05.
- Bernstein, Hannah (2004-08-17). "Martin Cauchon receives CBA SOGIC Ally Award". Canadian Bar Association. cba.org. Retrieved 2007-02-05.
- Gray, Jeff (2011-10-04)"Lawrence Cannon Lands at Gowlings" globeandmail.com Retrieved 2011-11-14