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William C. McDowell listen


Will* knows everyone in the business, and everyone important wants to know Will. With his broad experience and judgment, Will artfully represents clients in defamation and media cases, complex public law matters, and commercial litigation. When it comes to the public sector, Will knows§ first-hand about the unique challenges of the public sector, thanks to his long-standing work for governments and governmental organizations, including his three-year term as Canada’s Associate Deputy Minister of Justice. Will knows the way to successful outcomes, relying on his experience in many high-profile cases, notably his work in resolving the Maher Arar v Canada case, in which he was honoured as a joint recipient of the Department of Justice National Award. .



William C. McDowell

is a partner at Lenczner Slaght and a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers.

"William is an exceptional litigator and a great communicator. His work is of the highest calibre." — Chambers Canada

In his wide-ranging practice, Will has appeared as counsel in many important cases focusing on issues of public law and commercial litigation. He is also a leading practitioner of libel and media law, having acted for both plaintiffs and defendants in numerous noteworthy cases. In addition, he has acted as counsel to several Ontario universities.

From 2005 to 2008, Will was Canada's Associate Deputy Minister of Justice, with responsibility for civil litigation, national security and issues involving federal central agencies. He led a Department of Justice team that addressed a complex series of issues surrounding the Aboriginal Days of Protest in 2006–2007.

Upon his return to private practice in 2008, Will was appointed by the Chief Justice of Ontario to mediate issues arising from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Inquiry into Aboriginal residential schools. He was subsequently appointed to an Amicus role by the Superior Court in connection with a series of land occupations in Brantford. In 2009 he was named Chief Commission Counsel to the City of Mississauga Judicial Inquiry, which delivered its report in October 2011.

Will was a joint recipient of the Department of Justice National Award for his work in resolving the high-profile Maher Arar v Canada case. He has also been honoured by the University of Toronto for many years of volunteer efforts on behalf of his alma mater. A frequent contributor to professional conferences as a speaker as well as a writer, he has taught trial advocacy at Queen's University and Osgoode Hall law schools.

Will was elected in May 2023 to serve his third term as a Bencher of the Law Society of Ontario.

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  • American College of Trial Lawyers - Fellow

  • Law Society of Ontario - Bencher (2011–2019;2023-present)

  • The Advocates' Society - Member; Former Director

  • Canadian Bar Association

  • Ontario Bar Association

  • Alliance Française de Toronto

  • University of Toronto Summer Institute in Advocacy - Founding Co-Chair

  • Laskin Moot - Director

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  • Benchmark Canada (2012-2024)

    Litigation Star – Commercial, Government & Regulatory

  • Benchmark Canada (2019)

    Medical Defense/Health Attorney of the Year

  • Best Lawyers in Canada (2013-2024)

    Administrative & Public Law, Class Action Litigation, Corporate & Commercial Litigation, Defamation & Media, Health Care Law, Legal Malpractice Law

  • Best Lawyers in Canada (2023)

    Toronto "Lawyer of the Year" in Administrative & Public Law

    Toronto "Lawyer of the Year" in Defamation and Media Law

  • Canadian Legal Lexpert® Directory (2012-2024)

    Litigation - Corporate Commercial, Litigation - Defamation & Media, Litigation - Regulatory & Public Law, Professional Liability, Litigation - Public Law (2023)

  • Chambers Canada (2020-2024)

    Litigation: Administrative & Public Law (Ontario)

  • Department of Justice National (2011)

    Award for his work in resolving the Maher Arar v Canada case

  • Lexpert Guide to the Leading US/Canada Cross-border Litigation Lawyers in Canada (2013-2018)

    Corporate Commercial Litigation, Defamation & Media Litigation

  • Lexpert Special Edition: Canada's Leading Litigation Lawyers (2013-2023)

  • Lexpert®/American Lawyer Guide to the Leading 500 Lawyers in Canada (2016-2024)

    Corporate Commercial Litigation

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