James Plotkin Partner

Speaks:  English, French

Year of Call: 2016 - Ontario

Primary office:  Ottawa

James Plotkin

James Plotkin is a bilingual litigation and disputes partner in Gowling WLG's Ottawa office, practising in the Advocacy and Intellectual Property groups. His practice focuses on commercial litigation and arbitration (international and domestic), intellectual property litigation and administrative law.

James has argued before the Supreme Court of Canada, the Federal Court of Appeal and the Federal Court, as well as all levels of court in Ontario. He also frequently represents clients in international and domestic arbitrations. James is certified as a Qualified Arbitrator (Q.Arb) by the ADR Institute of Canada and acts as arbitrator in commercial and intellectual property matters in both ad hoc and institutional settings. He is on the Vancouver International Arbitration Centre's (VanIAC) Expedited Procedure arbitrator roster and the Arbitration Place NextGen Roster of arbitrators.

In addition to his litigation and arbitration practice, James is involved in domain name dispute resolution, both as counsel and adjudicator. He is on the rosters of the Canadian International Internet Dispute Resolution Centre (CIIDRC) and Resolution Canada and regularly acts as a sole panelist and member of three-person dispute resolution panels.

James's public law practice entails both advocacy and advisory components. In addition to representing individuals and businesses in judicial review proceedings, he has acted as litigation counsel to the Chief Electoral Officer of Canada (Elections Canada) and the Canadian Judicial Counsel. On the advisory side, James is counsel to the City of Ottawa Election Compliance Audit Committee as well as the City of Ottawa Property Standards and License Appeals Committee.

Prior to joining Gowling WLG, James practised with a boutique litigation firm in Ottawa. Before entering private practice, he clerked for the Honourable Justice Richard Boivin of the Federal Court of Appeal.

James has been published broadly on international and domestic commercial arbitration, copyright, trademarks and domain name disputes. He has contributed commentary on copyright and related issues on television, radio, podcasts and various national and regional English and French print media. Additionally, James co-authors a commentary on Ontario's arbitration legislation as well as a commentary on British Columbia's international arbitration legislation.

He obtained his LLL, JD and LLM from the University of Ottawa, where his graduate research focused on the implications of 3D printing on Canadian trademark law. While in law school, James competed on the University of Ottawa's Willem C. Vis. International Commercial Arbitration Moot Team, which he now assists in coaching. James sits on the Board of Directors of VanIAC and the Young Canadian Arbitration Practitioners (YCAP) and is active in the Canadian arbitration community.

Career & Recognition

Filter timeline:
  • 2024

    • Community
      Vancouver International Commercial Arbitration Centre (VanIAC), Member of the Board of Directors
  • 2023

  • 2022

    • Rankings & Awards
      Vancouver International Arbitration Centre (VanIAC), Excellence in Arbitration – Award for Outstanding Book or Article
    • Rankings & Awards
      Best Lawyers in Canada 2022: Ones to Watch (Intellectual Property)
    • Career
      Qualified Arbitrator (Q.Arb), ADR Institute of Canada
  • 2021

    • Community
      Canadian Intellectual Property Review, Associate Editor-in-Chief
  • 2018

    • Rankings & Awards
      Donald F. Sim Q.C. Memorial Writing Prize
  • 2016

    • Qualifications (Year of Call/Admission, etc.)
      Year of Call, Ontario
  • 2015

    • Education
      University of Ottawa, LLM (Law and Technology)
    • Rankings & Awards
      Willem C. Vis International Commercial Arbitration Moot, Frédéric Eisemann Award (Moot Winner)
  • 2013

    • Education
      University of Ottawa, JD, Common Law (cum laude)
  • 2012

    • Education
      University of Ottawa, LLL, Civil Law (cum laude)
  • 2009

    • Education
      Vanier College, Jazz Guitar (Specialization in Composition and Arranging)


  • Canadian International Internet Dispute Resolution Centre (CIIDRC), Adjudicator
  • Resolution Canada, Adjudicator
  • Young Canadian Arbitration Practitioners (YCAP)
  • Intellectual Property Institute of Canada (IPIC)
  • County of Carleton Law Association (CCLA)
  • The Advocates' Society
  • The Canadian Bar Association (CBA)



Book Chapter


Speaking Engagements

  • Speaker, “CIArb Canada – Debate Series: Vavilov, Value, Venue”, CanArbWeek, June 2024.
  • Speaker, "Arbitration Law Update", CCLA 43rd Annual Civil Litigation Conference, November 2023.
  • Speaker, "Fair Dealing and Digital Locks: A Novel Issue in Canadian Copyright Law", Licensing Executive Society (LES), June 2023.
  • Speaker, "Deciphering Trends in Domain Name Decisions: Our experts dig beneath the surface", Canadian International Internet Dispute Resolution Centre (CIIDRC), May 2023.
  • Guest, "What is the difference between a corporation name, trade name, brand name and domain name?", Canadian IP Voices Podcast (Industry Canada/CIPO), November 2022.
  • Speaker, "Recent Developments in Domain Name Disputes", Canadian International Internet Dispute Resolution Centre (CIIDRC), October 2022.
  • Speaker, "IP Talks – Defending your IP Rights", Canadian Intellectual Property Office/Intellectual Property Institute of Canada, April 2022.
  • Speaker, "New World, New Rules," Canadian Arbitration Week 2021, September 2021.
  • Speaker, "Domain Name Disputes and ADR," Intellectual Property Institute of Canada, July 2021.
  • Speaker, "Standard of review on appeals from arbitral awards," Alberta General Counsel Association, May 2021.
  • Speaker, "Vavilov's impact on appeals from arbitral awards," CBA Administrative Law Section, March 2021.
  • Speaker, presentation on recent arbitration decisions of importance to civil litigators, CCLA 39th Annual Civil Litigation Conference, October 2019.
  • Speaker, "Crash Course on Arbitration for IP Lawyers," Intellectual Property Institute of Canada, July 2019.
  • Guest, The LawBytes Podcast with Michael Geist, Episode 10: Lowdown on Lawsuits – James Plotkin on Copyright Threats, Notices, and Lawsuits, May 2019,
  • Speaker, CTV "Your Morning" – Segment on mass copyright infringement lawsuits pertaining to movie streaming/downloading, September 2018.
  • Speaker, presented research on the implications of 3D printing on Canadian trademark law, 2015 Osgoode Forum – Sex, Drugs & Rock 'n Roll: Subversive Sites in the Law, June 2015.
  • Speaker, television appearance as intellectual property expert, Rogers Cable 23, October 2013.
  • Speaker, keynote address on copyright and its effects on music creators, Vanier College Music Program, 2011 – 2018.

Representative Work

  • Made submissions before the Supreme Court of Canada in the benchmark administrative law case of Canada (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration) v. Vavilov
  • Acted on behalf of a sovereign state on a motion to dismiss a commercial contract claim based on a forum selection clause
  • Made submissions before the Federal Court of Appeal on a case of first impression addressing the availability of novel "website blocking" orders for copyright infringement
  • Argued various arbitration-related court proceedings, including appeals, applications to set aside arbitral awards, applications to appoint arbitral tribunals, applications to enforce an arbitral award etc.