From Submission to Rankings: Chambers Canada

The Chambers Canada team share the answers to questions asked during the Submission to Ranking: Canada webinar, providing details and insights into all things relating to submissions and referees. 

Published on 30 November 2022
Written by James Roberts and Kush Cheema
James Roberts
Kush Cheema

Basic information

Will there be updates to research area definitions for Canada?

We are currently in the process of updating the practice area definitions to ensure they accurately reflect the work that we consider relevant and of a high calibre in each section. These updates will likely be live by early December and will be communicated to law firms via our research mailing list and on our social media channels. If in the meantime you have any uncertainty over whether work is relevant for a section, please contact James Roberts at [email protected].  

Is there a practice area in Canada where we could submit for our work with Private Clients? (advising individuals and trustees on contentious and non-contentious aspects of asset management, including wills and probate, tax and trusts)

Chambers Canada is primarily used by corporate/business clients. We have a separate High Net Worth Guide, which includes coverage of Private Wealth Law, Private Wealth Disputes, and HNW Family/Matrimonial Law. This is typically researched in October and November of each year. For any further questions, please contact [email protected].  


Can you confirm the submissions deadlines for Chambers Canada 2024?

The submission deadlines will be on January 27th and March 31st.  

For the deadlines, what time is it due and in what time zone?

On deadline days, there is no set time after which the website will be locked – we just ask that the materials be uploaded by the end of the day in your local time. If technical issues occur which prevent you from uploading on the deadline day, please let us know and we’re happy to grant some leeway. 

Are all referee lists due on the January deadline?

No, though firms can upload all referee lists in January if they so wish. Referee lists are free to edit at any point until the research officially starts, after which they will be locked for editing. 

Referees and Referee Contacting

If we submit under the 30 referee maximum, are we able to swap any out into any of the unused spots in the event we will need to replace a reference?

You can swap and add referees until the research starts, however after that point the spreadsheets will be locked for editing.  

Can the same referees be used from past years?

Yes, though we ask that all referees be put forward who have recent experience working with your firm. 

With the new referee management tool in place, can we see the response rate directly in the tool rather than contacting the researcher?

The tool does show a live view of when emails have gone out and whether the researcher has interacted a referee. Please note that the referee management tool does not indicate whether referees have been interviewed, our interactions can include a referee declining an interview, referring us to a colleague, or partially completing a survey. For any questions on the Referee Management Tool, please contact [email protected]

Do you have any objection of providing the researchers contact details to our client referees so they can reach out directly?

If research has started, which can be determined through the Research Schedule page, then please do feel free to provide researcher contact details out to referees. 

Are we able to see an example of the researcher web survey to get an idea of what clients are being asked and give them an idea of what to expect?

We typically cannot give out examples of the survey, as these differ whether the referee is in-house or in private practice, the number of practices they’ve been referred for. However, both our surveys and interviews will include open-ended questions about the nature of their relationship with the firm/lawyer, what kind of matters they’ve worked on recently, and their thoughts on commerciality, client service, technical skill and value for money.  

Will the referee survey continue to only list already ranked lawyers? Many of our referees miss the "Add lawyer" options and have come back and commented that they couldn't find the lawyers they've worked with.

We are working on a survey iteration which displays the same names which are listed in the ‘Referring Lawyer’ portion of the Referee Spreadsheet, however this still requires some further refinement. Currently, only ranked lawyers are listed – though there is  a large ‘Add Lawyer’ button and simple instructions on providing feedback on additional lawyers.  


To clarify, is including links to lawyer biographies on the firm's website sufficient for section B9?

Yes. Firms have the option of including further notes in section B9, but it is perfectly acceptable to only include a link to a web biography.  

How many lawyers do you recommend adding to each of the individual submissions?

We would suggest the firm focuses on four or five senior partners per submission. 

How are the submissions weighed compared to the referees? Are the referee responses more important than the submissions when determining rankings?

Referees and submissions go hand-in-hand. We look for evidence of a practice group or a lawyers’ ability in technically complex and sophisticated matters in the submission and then match that evidence against first-hand feedback from referees attesting to those abilities, alongside evidence of value for money, client service skills and commerciality.  

Should we include all the lawyers involved in a matter, even if they do not have a specialization relevant to the submission category? For example, should I include the name of Corporate/M&A lawyer in a Real Estate highlight /submission?

Please list only those lawyers relevant to the practice area the submission is being uploaded for. In the example listed above, please include the details of only those Real Estate lawyers advising on the matter. 

If we feel our experience is not being correctly recognized, where can we address this in the submission.

Please include this in section B10 (‘What is this department best known for?’).  

Does the 20/25 limit also apply to clients listed in a submission?

For the five areas in which firms can list up to 25 work matters (Nationwide Banking & Finance, Competition/Antitrust, Intellectual Property, Restructuring/Insolvency, and Tax), firms can also list up to 25 total clients in sections D0 and E0 of the submission. 

What is your policy on addressing confidential matters in the submission, especially in areas such as Arbitration where confidentiality is of primary concern?

When it comes to instances where you cannot release client names on work highlights, please remember that it is allowed. We would, obviously, prefer to have the name of the client for corroboration purposes, but we do understand that sometimes it’s going to be impossible to do so. If it’s a particularly impressive work highlight you want to include, but can’t name the client, please do include as much detail as possible regarding the details and scope of the work and we’ll work with what we have.  

Are Nationwide sections only open for submission to firms with practice that span the entire nation?

Not at all. For the most pervasive areas of law (Corporate/Commercial, Employment & Labour, Litigation: General Commercial and Real Estate), we rank departments and lawyers on the basis of which province they are based in. So those lawyers practicing real estate out of Vancouver can only be ranked in the British Columbia table, corporate lawyers in Montreal can only be ranked in Corporate/Commercial Québec, etc. 

For other areas of law that are more specialist, it would make no sense to break down our tables by province and so we rank firms and lawyers in one “nationwide” table, according to their expertise in that area, no matter where in Canada they are based. 

Work that spans the entire nation will frequently be viewed as among the best work within a section, but if a lawyer or firm specialises in insurance, charities, restructuring, tax or any other one of our numerous other more specialist categories, they can still achieve a ranking, provided that the work evidenced and feedback from referees is indicative of a robust practice in the area. 

Why are the Quebec regional submissions all due at the January deadline and not in March with the other provinces?

In response to market feedback, for the upcoming 2024 Canada Guide, we pushed the second submission deadline back by 1 month compared to the deadlines for the 2023 Canada Guide – late March rather than early March.  

To accommodate this change, we did need to make a few adjustments to the deadlines for a few specific sections. For our Québec sections, we allocate researchers who speak French, to ensure that we can engage with the local market to the fullest extent possible. As availability for our French-speaking researchers is best in March, the later second deadline did require us to bring the deadlien for all Québec sections into the earlier January deadline. 

If you anticipate any challenges in meeting deadlines for any sections, please reach out to James Roberts at [email protected].  

If the insurance submission is merged, does it only allow up to 20 matters?

Between Canada Guide 2018 and Canada Guide 2021, we did allow separate submissions for both Insurance: Dispute Resolution and Insurance: Transactional & Regulatory, with 20 work highlights and 20 referees for each. For the 2022 and 2023 Guides, firms were only able to submit to Insurance as a whole, and were able to submit up to 40 work highlights and 40 referees to cover both areas. 

Prior to setting the submision categories for the 2024 Guide, we assessed the activity and number of lawyers in each department among submitting firms. Compared to some sectiosn which we have expanded this year, Insurance departments in general were not attempting to highlight enough practitioners to justify any enhanced limits. As such, for the 2024 Canada Guide, Insurance will have the limits that apply to all sections, namely 30 referees and 20 work highlights, to cover both the Dispute Resolution and Transactional & Regulatory subsections. 

We will continue to monitor each area of law on an annual basis and consider expanding or restricting limits in sections according to market realities. 

Employment & Labour: Labour for Unions (Québec) appears to be a new practice area. Shall we submit a separate submission than our Employment & Labour (Québec) submission, or shall we combine both?

Our preference would be for any firm that wishes to showcase their expertise in acting for Unions to highlight this in a dedicated submission to one of our Employment & Labour: Labour for Unions section, which are open for submission in our Ontario, Québec, British Columbia and Alberta sections.  

In the past, we had submitted on the practice area called “Litigation: Administrative and Public Law”. Has this practice area been removed? If so, in which practice area shall we submit our administrative/municipal contentious matters?

For departments based in Ontario, firms are able to submit directly to Ontartio – Litigation: Administrative & Public Law. Departments based in Alberta, British Columbia or Québec, should include the work in their Litigation: General Commercial submission, within the limits of 20 work highlights and 30 referees for those sections. Departments in all other provinces should include the work in their submission to the relevant General Business Law section for that province. 

Can you please confirm if matters related to carbon (Carbon Trading, Carbon pricing, Carbon Capture, Utilization and Storage) should be included in the Energy: Oil & Gas submission or the Energy: Power submission?

The energy sections of the Canada guide are primarily concerned with the generation of energy, and as such, pure Carbon Trading/Carbon Pricing is less relevant. Chambers Global Guide contains a dedicated Climate Change, Global Market Leaders table, which highlights the key departments and lawyers in this area. For more information on this section, please contact Vian Chowdhury ([email protected]). 

With regards to CCUS (Carbon Capture, Utilization and Storage), which section they are most applicable too depends on the type of project they are attached to. If attached to a project that falls somewhere along the three key components of the oil & gas cycle (upstream, midstream and downstream), then it would be most applicable on an Oil & Gas submission – for example, if it existed at a natural gas processing facility. If, on the other hand, it was attached to a facility involved in the generation of power, such as a coal-fired power plant, then it would be best placed on the Power submission. 

We are always open to the creation of new distinct tables – if you have thoughts about a dedicated Energy Transition, then please get in touch with James Roberts at [email protected] 

Research process

Do you contact us directly to schedule an interview with partners? Can we coordinate multiple individuals on one call?

The researcher will select from a cross-section of submitting firms and directly get in touch with the contact listed on the submission document to arrange an interview. Ideally, we would prefer to speak with a single lawyer on each call, as we find a one-to-one conversation is the most productive and efficient use of time.  

What is your criteria when deciding to rank an entire department on Chambers?

Overall, the three aspects we consider are work handled by the department within the last 12-18 months as evidenced in the submission, feedback from referees attesting to the practice’s technical quality and client service capabilities, and feedback from wider commentators attesting to the group’s standing and profile.  


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