Blake, Cassels & Graydon

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Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP
Blakes logo.jpg
HeadquartersToronto, Ontario, Canada
No. of offices9
No. of attorneys618 (2017)[1]
Key people
  • Brock Gibson (Chairman)
  • Bryson Stokes (Managing Partner)
Date founded1856
FounderEdward Blake
Company typeLimited liability partnership

Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP (Blakes) is an international corporate law firm with offices in Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Calgary, Vancouver, New York City, and London.

It has the strongest law firm brand in Canada according to the 2019 Acritas survey.[2]

It is a charter member in Lex Mundi, a referral network of independent law firms. Blakes is also an advisory member of TechLaw Group, Inc. Since 2009, the Chair of Blakes is Brock Gibson, and Bryson Stokes is the new Firm Managing Partner.


Blakes was launched in 1856 after Dominick Edward Blake was called to the bar and entered into partnership with Stephen M. Jarvis in Toronto.[3] Soon it was Blake & Blake when brother Samuel Hume Blake joined.

In 1867, Blakes incorporated what would become Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce. The bank remains one of the firm's oldest clients. In 1878, Blakes was the first business in Canada to install a telephone system that provided a direct link to the offices of the Ontario Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court of Canada at Osgoode Hall.

In 1882, Zebulon Aiton Lash joined Blakes and began building a corporate law practice.[4] By 1885, with 15 lawyers, Blakes was among the largest corporate law firms in the young Canadian Confederation.

In 1894, Clara Brett Martin articled at Blakes. She was called to the bar in 1897, becoming the first woman lawyer in Ontario and the British Empire.[5]

In 1953, the firm's name was changed to Blake, Cassels & Graydon.[6]

In 1959, Blakes was counsel to the appellant in the case of Frankel Corp. Ltd. v. Minister of National Revenue, S.C.R. 713. The results of this case determined when a taxpayer has a separate business.

In 1968, Blakes represented the defendant in the case of Composers, Authors and Publishers Assoc. of Canada Limited v. CTV Television Network Limited et al., S.C.R. 676. The plaintiff's contention that the defendants had infringed section 3(1)(f) of the Copyright Act by communicating the named musical works by radio communication could not be supported on the literal meaning of the statute because, in view of the statutory definitions, what was communicated was not "the works" but "a performance of the works". By 1970, Blakes had grown to 66 lawyers.

In 1979, Blakes represented the defendant in R. v. Chapin, 2 S.C.R. 121. After two trials and two appeals, it was determined that the Migratory Birds Convention Act is a regulatory statute enacted for the general welfare of the Canadian public and its wildlife. Section 14(1) creates a "public welfare offence" and it is not subject to the presumption of full mens rea. The next year, Blakes was part of Labatt Breweries of Canada Ltd. v. Attorney General of Canada 1 S.C.R. 914. The firm won the case for the appellant as it was determined that section B.02.130 to B.02.135 of the Food and Drug Regulations are invalid and that Sections 6 and 25(1)(c) of the Food and Drugs Act are ultra vires Parliament in so far as they relate to malt liquors.

In 1985, the firm opened an office in Calgary, where it became an adviser to the energy sector. A year later, Blakes was among the first Canadian law firms to expand internationally with an office in London, England. The firm continued to expand, opening an office in Vancouver in 1989, which focuses on natural resources companies, financial institutions, technology businesses and governments. Its Ottawa office, opened in 1990, serves clients interfacing with lawmakers, federal agencies and technology companies.

In 1994, Blakes represented the respondent in Schmidt v. Air Products Canada Ltd., 2 SCR 611, the first Supreme Court of Canada decision concerning pension surplus and contribution holidays.

In 1998, the firm opened an office in Beijing to serve clients involved in the East-West commercial trade.[7] The Blakes Montréal office was launched in 2001, focusing on banking, financial services, securities, mergers and acquisitions, energy, and information technology businesses.

In 2003, Blakes created the Daily Bread Toronto Law Firm Challenge,[8] which engages a number of Toronto law firms to raise money for the Daily Bread Food Bank. That year, the challenge raised over C$60,000. In 2018, 27 firms participated, raising over C$150,000 in cash donations and over 3,700 pounds of food.

In 2004, Blakes opened offices in the United States to serve cross-border clients. In 2009, the firm opened an office in Manama, Bahrain. That year, Blakes served as counsel to the respondent in the case of Grant v. Torstar Corp., SCC 61, [2009] 3 SCR 640, where the Supreme Court recognized the defence of responsible journalism against a claim of defamation.

In 2012, Blakes donated C$383,000 to the Fondation du Centre hospitalier de l'Université de Montréal (CHUM) and the McGill University Health Centre Foundation's (MUHC) joint corporate campaign to raise funds for university hospitals.[9] During that same year, Blakes was counsel to the defendants in Andersen v. St. Jude Medical, Inc., 2012 ONSC 3660. The court's dismissal of the plaintiff's action marked the end of the first product liability class action/common issues trial to be completed in Ontario.

In 2013, Blakes assisted the 160 Girls project, an initiative promoted by non-profit organization The Equality Effect, achieve a landmark victory where Kenyan law enforcement officials were ordered to investigate and prosecute crimes of sexual violence.[10] 160 Girls seeks to compel the enforcement of existing laws in Kenya, Ghana and Malawi that prohibit sexual assault and bring light to the epidemic of sexual violence against women and girls. In 2017, 160 Girls was recognized by the United Nations for advancing women's rights.

In 2017, Blakes launched Nitro powered by Blakes, an innovative program that provides access to legal services for emerging technology companies.[11]

In 2019, Blakes was recognized as "one of Canada's Best Diversity Employers" [12] for the eighth time by Mediacorp Canada Inc. (previous wins include 2008 to 2011 and 2015 to 2017). The firm was also named Canada Law Firm of the Year in the Who’s Who Legal Awards for the 11th consecutive year.[13]

Notable members and alumni[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Robert Brown, The House that Blakes Built (Toronto: Blake, Cassels, August 1980).
  • Joseph Schull, Edward Blake: The Man of the Other Way (1833-1881) (Toronto: MacMillan of Canada, 1975).


  1. ^ "The 2018 Global 100 Ranked by Revenue".
  2. ^ " Acritas Law Firm Brand Index 2019
  3. ^ Joseph Schull, Edward Blake: Leader and Exile, 1881-1912 (Toronto: MacMillan of Canada, 1976).
  4. ^ Christopher Moore. The Law Society of Upper Canada and Ontario's Lawyers, 1797-1997. University of Toronto Press; 1997. ISBN 978-0-8020-4127-2. p. 153–.
  5. ^ Backhouse, Constance (2005). "Martin, Clara Brett". In Cook, Ramsay; Bélanger, Réal (eds.). Dictionary of Canadian Biography. XV (1921–1930) (online ed.). University of Toronto Press.
  6. ^ T.D. Regehr, "Élite Relationships, Partnership Arrangements, and Nepotism at Blakes, a Toronto law Firm, 1858–1942," in Essays in the History of Canadian Law, ed. Carol Wilton (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1996), 207-247
  7. ^ Article in Lawyers Weekly
  8. ^ About the Daily Food Bank Law Firm Challenge Financial Post, 2012 12 07
  9. ^ Blakes makes donation to Montreal Hospitals Canadian Lawyer
  10. ^ Case Comment – Victory for 160 Girls in Defilement Constitutional Challenge "Kenya Law", 2013 05 27
  11. ^ Blakes launches program subsidizing legal fees for tech companies "Canadian Lawyer", 2017 06 26
  12. ^ Best diversity employer by Mediacorp Canada Inc.
  13. ^ Canada Law Firm of the Year, Who's Who Legal Awards

External links[edit]