Forecast: Increased Canadian growth as U.S. GCs’ need for legal services on the Canadian side of the border continues to expand

Sunday, January 31, 2016 - 19:56

Acritas data provides industry and regional context for GCs and their legal departments to be able to confidently benchmark their legal needs against their peers. This month, Lizzy Duffy, vice president at Acritas, has analyzed the most recent market data from Sharplegal – the world’s most comprehensive annual study of the global legal market – to determine the driving forces behind U.S.-based GCs’ legal needs in Canada.


Canadian Legal Support on the Up

By the end of 2015, 75 percent* of U.S.-based GCs had legal needs in Canada. This is up from 66 percent in 2014**, according to Sharplegal. This percentage represented no change in legal needs, with needs remaining static since 2013, but shows that in the past year, more emphasis has been placed on Canada as a market to do more business for U.S. companies.


Where In the U.S. Is Spend Coming From?

When analyzing the legal needs of your peers, our data is robust enough to offer regional and industry breakdowns to help organizations benchmark their spend more effectively. So what types of firms are driving growth in Canada’s legal market?

Demand is consistent at a regional level across the U.S. with 78 percent of companies in the South U.S. census region having a requirement for Canadian local law, 77 percent in the West, 73 percent in the Northeast, and 72 percent in the Midwest. However, when analyzing the level of need at a state level, Florida tops the list with 92 percent, while in Massachusetts, only 52 percent of companies need legal advice north of the border.

Interrogating the data further reveals the most active industry sectors, and as a result, which industries are contributing to increased demand in this region. The transport, logistics and distribution industry tops the list with 94 percent of organizations needing Canadian external counsel in Canada. General counsel in energy, utilities and natural resources were the next largest types of businesses to have a specific need for Canadian legal spend support with 83 percent citing a current demand.


Legal Spend Growing

The demand for legal advice in Canada is further highlighted when looking at legal department forecasts for the next 12 months. According to GCs, the forecast averaged as 33 percent planning to increase spend in Canada next year.


Eastern Canada – The Epicenter

It may come as no surprise that when U.S. GCs were asked in which areas in Canada they required legal advice, Toronto came out top with 64 percent of U.S. general counsel citing demand in the city. Montreal was second most in demand with 27 percent mentioning this city.


Demand Within Canada

It is also interesting to look at demand and growth of legal needs from the Canadian perspective. It can offer GCs from the rest of the world insight into which areas of Canadian law they might need to be paying more attention to.

When asked what work types are currently driving their legal spend, one energy sector GC cited the growing importance of litigation, confirming, “...customers are becoming more litigious,” while a GC in technology told us more specifically that “Patent litigation is becoming prevalent ...” in their industry. Within construction, one deputy GC talked about corporate work as driving growth/expansion: “We’re trying to expand into the global market, so as we get busier, the need for corporate work will increase.” Meanwhile a banking sector GC said their workload would be focused mostly on regulatory work, noting,
“...just new legislation coming down from various government agencies including the U.S. government, Canadian governments, and European governments and regulatory reporting.”


Join the Debate

Acritas is in its tenth year of providing detailed research through Sharplegal. If you would like a detailed report on the legal needs of any region or industry, generated from data provided by your peers, just complete a short Sharplegal phone interview with Acritas. Contact Deirdre Roddy at, or visit to register your interest to participate.

Acritas interviews more than 2,300 senior corporate counsel across 50 countries every year for Sharplegal.


Based on the responses of 343 U.S. corporate counsel in organizations with revenues of $50 million and above who took part in Acritas’ Sharplegal survey in 2015.

** Based on the responses of 375 U.S. corporate counsel in organizations with revenues of $50 million and above who took part in Acritas’ Sharplegal survey
in 2014.