Lax O’Sullivan Lisus Gottlieb has fashioned itself as a “premier litigation boutique,” with peer and client review uniformly supporting this lofty claim. “Lax takes on whatever they want, and they take every case just as seriously,” assesses a peer. “They get the work that would make you go ‘wow,’ but they also take these weird one-off files that you wouldn’t even expect, and they are superb with all of it.” One thing the firm does not do is commoditized, routine work. An independent-minded shop with no steady revenue stream, the firm relies on files that require a high-minded and novel approach to litigation, be it dispute resolution or trial. It is also noted that “Lax is definitely in building mode,” according to a peer, who goes on to confide, “They actually poached a few of our associates!”
The firm boasts multiple examples of this novel-but-high-stakes work. Jonathan Lisus, an all-purpose trial lawyer, is routinely referred to as one of Toronto’s most committed and versatile litigators. “Jonathan Lisus is just everywhere at once,” observes a peer. “He never lets this versatility get the better of him, though. He’s always on top of his game, and he keeps his chops up by remaining busy all the time, often on stuff that is a bit ‘off the beaten path.’” In one such example, Lisus is counsel to a group of standardbred horse breeders who brought a claim against the provincial government and the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation in connection with the termination of revenue sharing under the “Slots at Racetrack Program” in 2012. This termination allegedly caused the breeders to suffer significant losses. The lawsuit was brought in 2014, and a summary judgment motion was heard in 2018 and 2019. The Superior Court ruled in the plaintiffs’ favor against the government of Ontario on liability in June 2020. Lisus also represents Zydus Pharma in a class action against the world’s leading generic drug makers alleging anti-competitive behavior, including participating in a price-fixing cartel. The defendants are responsible for most of the generic drug manufacturing in Canada. Acting with Lisus on this matter is Rahool Agarwal, a future star with a rising profile. Agarwal is also working with name partner Matthew Gottlieb as Canadian counsel for a defendant in a number of high-profile class- action claims in the US and Canada which arise from the client’s involvement as the former CFO of CannTrust Holdings, a Canadian marijuana producer. The plaintiffs alleged that the client, amongst others, was directly involved in making a number of misrepresentations relating to CannTrust’s compliance with health and safety regulations in its share offering documentation. In particular, it is alleged that CannTrust was operating several illegal grow operations at two of its facilities. Agarwal also acts with Lisus and Crawford Smith as primary counsel to the Competitive Network Operators of Canada in a series of appeals brought by some of Canada’s largest incumbent telecommunication companies from a decision of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission regarding the provision of wholesale high-speed internet services. Gottlieb is also counsel to the litigation trustee in the Sears bankruptcy, who was authorized by the Ontario Superior Court of Justice to bring claims against certain defendants to increase assets of this insolvent company. A trial of the action seeking $509 million was scheduled to begin in May 2020 but wound up settling in September.