David Estrin Counsel Certified Specialist (Environmental Law)


Speaks:  English

Year of Call: 1980 - Alberta

Year of Call: 1971 - Ontario

Primary phone: +1 416-862-4301

Fax: +1 416-863-3401

Email: david.estrin@gowlingwlg.com

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Primary office:  Toronto



David Estrin

David Estrin is counsel in Gowling WLG's Toronto office. He is recognized as Canada’s senior environmental law practitioner and one of the country's most experienced environmental law specialists. For more than 30 years, he has advised government agencies, corporations and financial institutions, Aboriginal Peoples and ratepayers, as well as law firms in Canada and the U.S., in all facets of environmental law. David holds the prestigious Law Society of Ontario designation of Certified Specialist in Environmental Law. 

David is also a highly experienced Aboriginal lawyer. He has advised and represented First Nations and Inuit people, as well as private sector proponents and is head of Gowling WLG's Toronto Aboriginal Law Practice Group.

David is highly sought-after for his environmental counsel. He has appeared as counsel before virtually every level of court in Ontario, Alberta and at the federal level, at various times representing federal and provincial departments and agencies, Crown corporations, municipalities, the private sector, Aboriginal Peoples and environmental groups. He is also recognized as a leading environmental counsel before Ontario’s Environmental Assessment Board, the Ontario Municipal Board, the Environmental Review Tribunal and Joint Boards. His cases before the courts and tribunals have established leading precedents in the environmental, aboriginal, land use planning and resources law areas.

David's cases before the Federal Court Trial Division and Federal Court of Appeal have established leading precedents regarding the proper scope of environmental assessment for major infrastructure projects under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act.

David's in-depth involvement in various aspects of environmental assessment, includes:

  • Policy development and drafting of environmental assessment legislation;
  • Advisor to the Ontario Minister of the Environment regarding EA reform;
  • Advising consultants and clients regarding necessary components for an acceptable environmental assessment study;
  • Litigating fundamental legal issues as to what constitutes a proper and acceptable environmental assessment document and environmental assessment procedural issues before environmental assessment boards, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice and the Federal Court of Canada.

In 2006, the Canadian Bar Association honoured David's achievements in the development of Canadian environmental law practice by establishing the David Estrin Prize for the best scholarly essay in environmental, energy or resources law by a Canadian law student.

In 2011-12, he served as senior vice-chair of the International Bar Association Environment, Health and Safety Committee.

David is ranked in Legal 500 Canada 2017, an elite guide that lists him as one of the top lawyers in the country. He is described in the publication as "dean of the environmental law bar."

Career & Recognition

Filter timeline:
  • 2016

    • Rankings & Awards
      November2016
    • Rankings & Awards
      October2016
      Who’s Who Legal: Environment 2016
  • 2015

    • Rankings & Awards
      December2015
      Who’s Who Legal: Canada 2015
    • Rankings & Awards
      November2015
      Legal 500 Canada 2016
    • Rankings & Awards
      November2015
      Who’s Who Legal: Environment 2015
    • Rankings & Awards
      September2015
      The International Who’s Who of Business Lawyers 2015
    • Rankings & Awards
      July2015
      Canadian Legal Lexpert Directory 2015
    • Rankings & Awards
      April2015
      Chambers Global 2015
    • Rankings & Awards
      February2015
      Legal 500 Canada 2015
  • 2014

    • Rankings & Awards
      December2014
      Lexpert lists Gowlings as the top environmental law firm in Toronto
    • Rankings & Awards
      October2014
      Lexpert ’s Guide to Canada’s Leading Infrastructure Lawyers 2014
    • Rankings & Awards
      October2014
      Who's Who Legal: Canada 2014
    • Rankings & Awards
      September2014
      Who’s Who Legal: The International Who’s Who of Business Lawyers 2014
    • Rankings & Awards
      September2014
      The Best Lawyers in Canada 2015
    • Rankings & Awards
      July2014
      Canadian Legal Lexpert Directory 2014
    • Rankings & Awards
      April2014
      Chambers Global 2014
  • 2013

    • Rankings & Awards
      December2013
      The Legal 500 Canada 2014
    • Rankings & Awards
      November2013
      Who's Who Legal: Canada 2013
    • Rankings & Awards
      October2013
      Lexpert — Canada’s Leading Infrastructure Lawyers 2013
    • Rankings & Awards
      October2013
      Who's Who Legal - The International Who's Who of Environment Lawyers 2013
    • Rankings & Awards
      September2013
      The Best Lawyers in Canada 2014
    • Rankings & Awards
      July2013
      Canadian Legal Lexpert Directory 2013
    • Rankings & Awards
      July2013
      Who’s Who Legal: The International Who’s Who of Business Lawyers 2013
    • Rankings & Awards
      April2013
      Chambers Global 2013
    • Rankings & Awards
      February2013
      The Best Lawyers in Canada 2013
  • 2012

    • Rankings & Awards
      December2012
      Who's Who Legal: Canada 2012
    • Rankings & Awards
      October2012
      Lexpert Canada’s Leading Infrastructure Lawyers 2012
    • Rankings & Awards
      July2012
      Canadian Legal Lexpert Directory 2012
    • Rankings & Awards
      July2012
      Who’s Who Legal: The International Who’s Who of Business Lawyers 2012
    • Rankings & Awards
      April2012
      Chambers Global 2012
    • Rankings & Awards
      February2012
      The Best Lawyers in Canada 2012
  • 2011

    • Rankings & Awards
      December2011
      Who’s Who Legal 2011
    • Rankings & Awards
      March2011
      PLC Which Lawyer? 2011
    • Rankings & Awards
      February2011
      The Best Lawyers in Canada® 2011
    • Rankings & Awards
      February2011
      Canadian Legal Lexpert Directory, 2011
    • Rankings & Awards
      2011
      Lexpert/ American Lawyer Guide to the Leading 500 Lawyers in Canada, 2011
    • Rankings & Awards
      2011
      Who’s Who Legal - The International Who’s Who of Business Lawyers, 2011
  • 2010

    • Rankings & Awards
      February2010
      Lexpert American Lawyer Guide to the Leading 500 Lawyers in Canada, 2010
    • Rankings & Awards
      February2010
      PLC Which Lawyer? Yearbook, 2010
    • Rankings & Awards
      February2010
      The Best Lawyers in Canada® 2010
    • Rankings & Awards
      February2010
      Canadian Legal Lexpert Directory, 2010
  • 1980

    • Qualifications (Year of Call/Admission, etc.)
      1980
      Year of Call, Alberta
  • 1971

    • Qualifications (Year of Call/Admission, etc.)
      1971
      Year of Call, Ontario
    • Education
      University of Alberta, LLB
    • Rankings & Awards
      Best Lawyers in Canada©, 2006-2009
    • Rankings & Awards
      Ranked among the world's leaders in Environmental Law in surveys conducted by the U.K.-based Guide to the World's Leading Environmental Lawyers (Euromoney)
    • Rankings & Awards
      Recognized by Who's Who Legal in the area of Environment

Memberships

  • Canadian Bar Association
  • Law Society of Alberta
  • Law Society of Upper Canada

David is the founding editor of the Canadian Environmental Law Reports and author of several authoritative texts on Canadian environmental law, including Business Guide to Environmental Law (Carswell), which provides unique and continuously updated insights into Canadian (and comparative U.S.) environmental law developments affecting the business community.  His other books include:  Handle with Caution:  Liability in the Production and Disposal of Dangerous Substances (Carswell), and Environment on Trial – A Handbook of Ontario Environmental Law.

David has taught  and lectured about environmental law for 13 years (part-time) at the Faculty of Environmental Studies, University of Waterloo as well as for five years at the Banff School of Management in a week-long course for senior government officials and corporate executives on “How to Prepare and Present Environmental Evidence”.

Environmental Assessment Rep Work

  • TransCanada Pipelines and Exxon Mobile: Currently and since 2001 providing specialist environmental assessment counsel for the Alaska Gas Pipeline project, including EA requirements under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (CEAA); the Yukon Environmental and Socio-Economic Assessment Act (also federal legislation); and under B.C. and Alberta environmental assessment laws.
  • Nalcor: In 2009 provided strategic legal analysis and advice on environmental assessment issues pertaining to the Generation and Island Link projects, including attending at Gull Island and Muskrat Falls generation sites and detailed review of the plans and previous EA approvals for these projects
  • City of Hamilton: Obtained EA clearance for a major freeway project; successfully litigated before the Federal Court Trial Division and Federal Court of Appeal that a CEAA Panel Review was illegal and could not be applied to this project, despite intense demands by project opponents for a Panel Review and the support for a Panel Review by the Federal Environment Minister and Federal Minister of Fisheries and Oceans
  • Buffalo and Fort Erie Public  Bridge Authority: Advice regarding Canadian, Ontario and U.S. environmental assessment and environmental approval requirements for a new international bridge between Fort Erie and Buffalo, New York
  • City of Windsor: Counsel to the City regarding three private and public sector international bridge and tunnel proposals between Detroit and Windsor across and under the Detroit River; a nine year retainer which included advice regarding  a Bi-National Environmental Assessment (Canada and U.S. Federal governments), involvement in the  CEAA and the U.S. National Environmental Policy Act requirements (in some aspects working with U.S. environmental counsel) as well as intensive involvement with Ontario Environmental Assessment Act requirements
  • A major Canadian mining corporation – Environmental counsel regarding federal and provincial environmental assessment requirements for a large new mine in Labrador
  • Waste management and energy from waste environmental assessment approvals: Counsel for private and public sector proponents and in other cases for opponents of major new landfills and EFW projects subject to individual EA and multi-month to multi-year public hearing requirements under the Ontario Environmental Assessment Act

Aboriginal Law Experience

  • Providing advice to the proponent on First Nation consultation issues regarding a major new interprovincial/international pipeline in Western Canada.
  • Counsel for the Union of Ontario Indians and the North Shore Tribal Council; advice and representation in Environmental Assessment Board hearings regarding Ontario Hydro’s 25-year future supply environmental assessment.
  • Counsel for the Baker Lake Hunters and Trappers Association, Baker Lake Inuit & Hamlet of Baker Lake, NWT (now Nunavut) – Civil action in the Federal Court successfully established that Inuit people are entitled to assert Aboriginal Rights; successfully obtained an interlocutory injunction putting a pause on uranium mining exploration activity alleged to interfere with caribou migration. See 1980 F.C. 518.
  • Counsel to the Inuit Taparitsat of Canada, advising on land claims issues, Federal Environmental Assessment  and resource conflict concerns including  proposed off-shore drilling and new radioactive waste disposal sites.
  • Counsel to the Northern Quebec Inuit Association.  Advised Inuit and worked with Grand Council of the Crees (separately represented) to co-author and negotiate the environmental and land use planning components of the original James Bay and Northern Quebec Hydro-Electric Power Project and James Bay Agreement.
  • Counsel for the City of Hamilton in negotiations with The Six Nations Confederacy regarding their attempts to stop completion of the Red Hill Creek Expressway. This involved significant work with archaeologists representing the City, the Ministry of Culture and The Six Nations to resolve claims about aboriginal villages and burial sites and led to the negotiation of various novel  agreements as to the involvement and accommodation of the Six Nations in works to complete the expressway.
  • Advice to B.C. First Nations regarding legal remedies to prevent interference from commercial fish farming operations with Aboriginal rights to continue wild Salmon fishing and harvesting practices.
  • Counsel to the Shibogama First Nations Council (northwestern Ontario) in a mediation arising from proposed mining activity. Authored and negotiated components of a development agreement establishing a  regime for First Nation direct involvement in planning and regulating future land uses and environmental protection.These negotiations allowed a new gold mine to be established.