About Davies

About the Firm

Davies Ward Phillips & Vineberg LLP is an integrated firm of approximately 240 lawyers with offices in Toronto, Montréal and New York. The firm is focused on business law and is consistently at the heart of the largest and most complex commercial and financial matters on behalf of its clients, regardless of borders.

Davies is a market leader in each of its core practice areas. The Lexpert®/American Lawyer Guide to the Leading 500 Lawyers in Canada ranks Davies as the leading firm for corporate transactions relative to firm size in Toronto and Montréal, and as one of the two leading tax firms in Montréal.

We act for a wide range of leading industrial and commercial companies and financial institutions, both public and private, in Canada, the United States and abroad. As well, our clients include governments, regulatory bodies, charitable organizations, international agencies, educational institutions, individuals and trusts and estates. Many clients are directed to us for special-purpose engagements by other North American and international law firms.

All law firms are not created equal. The difference at Davies Ward Phillips & Vineberg is that we consistently produce superior results for our clients.

Ability and Attitude

There is no "B" team at Davies Ward Phillips & Vineberg. In both Chambers Global's The World's Leading Lawyers and in The Lexpert®/American Lawyer Guide to the Leading 500 Lawyers in Canada we consistently have the highest percentage of our lawyers ranked of any major firm in Canada. This year we are at the centre of the bull's eye in both Toronto and Montréal. It is not by accident. The rankings reflect a conscious focus, over a long period, on consistency and depth of exceptional talent – attracting and retaining lawyers at all experience levels who have the ability and the motivation to be among the very best in their chosen fields of practice.

At entry level the firm hires approximately 12-14 graduating law students each year, selected from more than 1,000 applicants. We invest heavily in the training and continuing education of our young lawyers, exposing them to increasing levels of responsibility in a wide range of sophisticated and complex matters and teaching them to approach legal issues in the context of the client's business objectives.

Davies Ward Phillips & Vineberg has a high ratio of partners to associates. Our talented, hard-working and highly accomplished young lawyers are hired with a view they would ultimately advance to partnership. As a result, they are encouraged to think like owners, rather than employees, early in their careers, and to view the firm's relationships with its clients from that perspective.

Not all our growth has been organic. We also have a proven track record of attracting to our firm leading practitioners who have been successful elsewhere in private practice or in industry or government. They bring to our firm the strength and diversity of their talents and backgrounds.

We believe that achieving uniform excellence also requires focus. Our focus on business law, limiting ourselves to practice areas where we can be best-in-class, and not pursuing growth for its own sake, has allowed us to maintain consistently high quality.

A Culture of Client Service

The needs of the client are paramount. Our partnership philosophy and our uncommon compensation system remove the barriers to effective collaboration and provide the foundation for client, rather than individual, focus. We place great emphasis on team work, cooperation and the firm as a whole, rather than on individual effort or self-advancement. Internal competition and self-promotion are counter-cultural and are not tolerated.

We are a highly integrated organization operating as "one firm", drawing on exceptional lawyers from a range of disciplines across all offices of the firm. The client's needs drive the make-up of the team working on a file, ensuring that the right people, at the right time, at the right cost are engaged.

Other law firms typically base lawyer compensation and advancement on objective measureables, in particular on billable hours, which are not always aligned with clients' interests. At Davies, lawyer compensation and partnership admission are determined through a subjective process of peer review whereby members of the firm rely on being fairly assessed by their colleagues. A lawyer's contribution is measured against a broad range of non-objective criteria, including the lawyer's practice skills and capabilities, the willingness to place a high priority on the interests of the firm and its clients, the commitment of the lawyer to actively supporting the philosophy that our clients are firm clients, how well the lawyer recognizes, anticipates and responds to client needs and the variety of other ways in which the individual lawyer supports the firm's commitment to excellence in practice. This approach aligns the interests of the lawyers and the client, promotes efficient, effective service, encourages our lawyers to work collaboratively – within and among practice groups and offices – in our clients' interests and fosters the development of sustainable, mutually supportive relationships between the firm and its clients.

Efficient, Effective Delivery of Legal Services

Our commitment to our clients is to work together to ensure that our fees represent good value and our services are provided in a cost-effective manner. Our approach to providing our clients with maximum value rests on several principles of practice:

  • Develop a clear understanding as to client objectives at the outset.
  • Ensure the firm has a thorough knowledge of the client's business, the environment in which it operates and other relevant factors.
  • Staff to the needs of the file, making appropriate use of younger lawyers.
  • Eliminate redundant staffing at meetings.
  • Avoid duplication of effort between the firm and the client’s internal resources.
  • Use technology to reduce costs.
  • Provide timely reports on costs.
  • Control out-of-pocket costs and disbursements.

Efficiency is encouraged by our compensation philosophy, which also removes incentives to overstate hours or overstaff files.

Our traditional practice, which most of our clients prefer, is to bill based on time incurred for a particular file. In many cases though, we have worked with clients to create alternative arrangements appropriate to the particular circumstances, based on the principles outlined above and solid communication.