For the fourth straight time, Willms & Shier Environmental Lawyers LLP has been named one of Canada’s top five boutique environmental law firms, and one of only two in Ontario.
Canadian Lawyer, the country’s leading independent legal publication, released the list in May 2010 after a panel of environmental lawyers practicing in larger firms made the final selections from the publication’s short-list of finalists.
“To be recognized as best-in-class by your peers is a great honour,” says John Willms, senior partner. “As we celebrate Environment Week and Clean Air Day, we reflect on the growing importance and complexity of environmental matters. The legal work has changed dramatically in the last decade and it is gratifying that we continue to be seen as specialists with a breadth of knowledge in environmental law.”
For more than 30 years, the firm led by John Willms and Donna Shier has successfully guided companies and municipalities to environmental due diligence in managing industrial operations, contaminated land clean-up, transactions and lawsuits.
Many of the firm’s lawyers are well known as speakers and authors. Willms is Past Commissioner for the Commission on Environmental Policy, Law and Administration of the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources, while Shier joins Canada’s other leading environmental lawyers each year as a participant in the Annual Environmental Law forum.
Willms and Shier say their personal values led them to practice environmental law.
“We are able to help clients understand their options so they remain responsible, proactive and ahead of compliance concerns. We are focused on meeting their business goals, while trying to avoid expensive court costs,” says Willms, noting the firm’s partners are known to, when needed, tenaciously represent their clients in civil litigation trials and at regulatory tribunal hearings.
In recent years, Willms & Shier has built on its core expertise to become well known in the related practice areas of Aboriginal Law and Energy Law.
The team of 12 lawyers, with more than 184 years of combined legal experience, manages files across Canada and the United States from their downtown Toronto office.
“Maintaining expertise in these specific areas, and at a boutique size allows us to stay focused on building our practice on the values that have been our hallmark,” says Willms. “Knowledge needs to be coupled with attentive service. Our clients know that they can get directly to their lawyer, and the matter will be dealt with efficiently and quickly.”