Finding Cases on CanLII by Name of Counsel

The following is based on a post made by John Sadler of Western University on the CALL listserv.

CanLII does not offer a custom field that permits searching by counsel.  However, there is a technique for finding cases in which a particular lawyer appeared for one of the parties. It relies on the fact that most cases follow a uniform syntax when identifying counsel. For example in a case in which Ms June L. Carter was counsel, the reasons for judgment will say something like the following at the beginning:

               June L. Carter, for the respondent

To search for Ms. Carter’s cases one might try this search in the “Document text” field

               “Carter for the”

For greater precision, try a qualifier that describes who the lawyer is representing, e.g.

               “Carter for the respondent”

Other “qualifiers” that could be used include “accused’, “plaintiff”, “defendant”, “applicant”, and “appellant”.

The technique is not foolproof, of course. Sometimes one will get false hits with common surnames, so the searches above would also pick up cases where John Carter was the counsel. You may need to play around with variations of the counsel’s name such as surname only, given name and surname, initials and surname, etc. Still, the above approach is a refinement on simply throwing the lawyer’s name into the search statement.

Many thanks to John for letting me use his post.


  1. Melanie R. Bueckert

    I noticed yesterday that in the Saskatchewan Labour Arbitration Awards (, there is a separate field for searching by arbitrator. Do any other CanLII databases have this search function?

  2. Melanie R. Bueckert

    Sorry, I now see that the ‘search by arbitrator’ function is fairly common across all of CanLII’s labour arbitration databases. Do we know if similar search functionality is coming to any of their other databases?

  3. Susannah Tredwell

    Melanie, CanLII tells me that there is no immediate plan to introduce that function to other databases.

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