At least Brock Gibson didn’t have to spend Christmas Day with the lawyers from Burnet, Duckworth & Palmer. Like many lawyers in oil-rich, deal-happy Calgary, Gibson-a partner at Blake, Cassels & Graydon has learned not to take holidays for granted. But last December, even by the standards of Calgary’s insular legal community, he was spending a lot of time with opposing counsel from Burnet. The firms were working on opposite sides of two simultaneous, multibillion-dollar deals. “We were dealing with similar structures, similar transactions, similar deal terms to be negotiated,” says Gibson, who represented Enerplus Resources Fund as a buyer in the $1.7 billion acquisition of Focus Energy Trust at the same time he was advising Canetic Resources Trust in its $5.6 billion sale to Penn West Energy Trust. Both Blakes and Burnet fielded almost identical teams for the deals. And with both firms working flat out to get the transactions signed before year-end, a shared Christmas eggnog in one of their conference rooms felt like a very real possibility.

In the end, Gibson did get to leave Blakes’s glass-walled, thirty-fifth-floor conference room for Christmas, but he was right back at work after the New Year. He had to be: In the last few years, a landslide of billion-dollar deals and a deluge of international investment have made Calgary Canada’s busiest legal market. Right now this region is like no other legal market in North America. The opportunities here seem boundless-but only for the firms that can make the most of them.

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