BROWNLEE’S PRACTICE AREAS AND CLIENT BASE
So now you know how we practice the law, but what areas of law do we practice?
Our practice areas have developed both in anticipation of and in response to clients’ needs, so each practice area quickly becomes sustainable based on existing clients.
Like many regional firms in western Canada, our clients range from individuals, to large and small businesses, to municipal and provincial governments, and to multi-national corporations.
However, Brownlee’s primary strength comes from being retained by institutional clients on an ongoing and historical basis, rather than individuals. This creates a robust foundation for legal practices, as well as a balanced base of large, small, local, regional and international clients that is stable and sustainable and which, frankly, belies our size and location.
At Brownlee, we have the practice areas and clients akin to a national firm, but with the distinct advantages of a regional firm. To this end, some of our fundamental client groups include the following:
As a result of our work with many leading insurers, much of our firm’s litigation practice is defence oriented. Brownlee is an affiliate member of the Canadian Litigation Counsel, a nationwide affiliation of independent insurance defence law firms. The Canadian Litigation Counsel is, in turn, affiliated with the Harmonie Group, a similar organization encompassing the United States and Europe. These types of affiliations provide Brownlee with a national and international presence without sacrificing the regional firm benefits of in-house decision- making.
Municipalities and the Province of Alberta:
Brownlee represents most municipalities in Alberta, as well as many municipalities throughout Saskatchewan, Yukon, the Northwest Territories and Nunavut. Our firm has also been pleased to advise and represent the Province of Alberta on a variety of important issues and to litigate those issues at various levels of courts. This has included constitutional references throughout Alberta and in neighbouring provinces at all levels of court, including the Supreme Court of Canada.
Brownlee operates one of the largest commercial lending practices in Western Canada. Our lender clients include chartered banks, life insurance companies and major pension funds. In addition, we frequently provide advice to borrowers relating to the negotiation and structuring of credit facilities with their lenders.
Corporate/commercial institutions and businesses:
In addition to commercial lenders, we serve a wide group of corporate and commercial clients including sole proprietors, partnerships, Alberta business corporations, co-operative associations, First Nations and Indigenous business vehicles, business corporations from outside of Alberta, Alberta and Federal non-profit organizations, as well as publicly traded companies and corporations that are established by specific provincial or federal statutes.
Alberta and Saskatchewan schools, school divisions and post-secondary institutions:
Our firm represents many of Alberta’s and Saskatchewan’s public and separate school divisions, as well as private and charter schools. In addition, the multitude of needs of many of Alberta’s and Saskatchewan’s post-secondary institutions has resulted in the creation of a client group that is also rapidly growing.
OUR PRACTICE AREAS
Our firm has three main office locations in Calgary, Edmonton, and Vancouver. The primary departments in Edmonton are Litigation, Business, and Municipal; Calgary’s primary departments are Litigation and Municipal; and Vancouver’s primary department is Litigation. These departments are merely a starting point, however. Within each department, our firm is subdivided into practice areas and resulting practice groups (i.e. teams of lawyers, paralegals and support staff) within which is a wealth of diversity and specialities that often overlap.
The larger or more dynamic practice areas include the following:
Insurance Defence, including personal injury, product liability, errors and omissions, construction liability, property and fire, municipal liability, school liability, director and officer liability, environmental liability, business interruption, premises liability, coverage and bad faith, life/health/disability, sexual harassment and abuse, and transportation and inland marine;
General Litigation, including environmental, construction, constitutional, commercial, municipal, school, intellectual property, environmental, and employment and labour. This non-insurance litigation practice will continue to be one of the major growth areas of the firm;
Municipal Law, including legislative drafting and interpretation, advising municipal councils, municipal governance, real and chattel property acquisition and disposition, planning, zoning and development matters, annexation and amalgamation, contract preparation and interpretation, public liability matters, taxation, and electrical and gas regulatory work. On occasion, the firm is retained to undertake municipal-based bylaw prosecutions and to give counsel in inter-governmental and jurisdictional dispute matters. Our firm is also becoming progressively more involved in environmental, health, Indigenous people, and privacy and access to information law;
Administrative Law, consisting of all aspects of administrative law in Alberta and neighbouring jurisdictions. We act for or appear before virtually every form of administrative tribunal in Alberta. This practice may continue through the courts upon appeals and other forms of judicial review, and therefore represents a significant appellate practice throughout all appeal court levels in Alberta and Canada;
Public Utilities, Infrastructure and Public Private Partnerships (P3s), which address areas of the Alberta economy that are most affected by extreme growth and demand for services, insufficient public funding sources to pay for and provide vital services, and the unique opportunities that exist to address these and a myriad of other issues that face utility, infrastructure, and other public service needs;
Labour and Employment in the unionized and non-unionized context, including reorganizations, contract and policy development, workplace management, certification applications, collective bargaining, collective agreement arbitration, unfair labour practices, strikes and lockouts, successorship, certificate revocation and judicial review. By extension, we also practice in education law, human rights, occupational health and safety, privacy law and information technology management. Our Employment and Labour group is focused solely on employer-side representation;
Immigration Law: assists with applications for work permits, study permits, and temporary residence permits; family sponsorship and reunification, Canadian citizenship and permanent residence including express entry; judicial reviews and appeals; refugee claims; and applications on the basis of humanitarian and compassionate grounds. We can also assist with drafting employment agreements, settlement services and other immigration related contracts.
Wills, Estates and Estate Planning, which includes drafting wills and enduring power of attorney documents, as well as assisting with personal directives, succession planning and estate litigation;
Commercial Lending and Enforcement, including structuring loans and loan security, closing transactions, security enforcement, receiverships, bankruptcy and insolvency, as well as loan workouts and restructurings. Our philosophy in dealing with these types of situations is to employ strategies and find solutions to resolve matters quickly and efficiently; and
Business Law, including director and officer liability, incorporations, partnership agreements, joint ventures, P3s, corporate finance, corporate governance, unanimous shareholder agreements, securities compliance, acquisition or disposition of major business segments, corporate filing and regulatory compliance, business succession planning, corporate reorganization, risk management, real estate acquisitions and sales, condominium creation and governance, real estate development and construction, commercial real estate leasing, landlord and tenant disputes,
co-ownership agreements, easements, rights of way and restrictive covenants, environmental due diligence and disputes, and real estate agency.