Hugh J.D. McPhail, K.C.

Professional Practice

Hugh is recognized by his peers as a leading practitioner in advising and representing employers in respect to labour relations strategy, labour arbitrations, Labour Relations Board applications, wrongful dismissal lawsuits, human rights, privacy, employment standards, workers’ compensation, and various other labour and employment matters.

He advises employers regarding the drafting, implementation, and application of executive contracts, employment agreements, non-competition, non-solicitation, and confidentiality provisions, change of control agreements, drug and alcohol testing programs, harassment policies, and general employment policies and practices.

Employers from many different industries engage Hugh to advise and represent them in a variety of employment related matters before the relevant tribunals, including all levels of the Courts up to the Supreme Court of Canada, and the various administrative tribunals that adjudicate employment related matters including those dealing with human rights, occupational health and safety, workers’ compensation and employment standards matters.

Hugh conducts cases across Alberta, Saskatchewan and the Northern Territories, as well as national cases on behalf of federal employers.


  • LL.M., Dalhousie University (with Distinction)
  • LL.B., University of Saskatchewan
  • B.A., University of Saskatchewan


  • Law Society of Alberta
  • Canadian Bar Association
  • Canadian Association of Counsel to Employers


  • Appointed Queen’s Counsel
  • Ranked as Band 1 in Chambers Canada in the Employment & Labour law category (Alberta).
  • Labour and Employment Law, Best Lawyers in Canada, 2006-2020
  • Lawyer of the Year, Labour and Employment Law, Best Lawyers in Canada
  • Judicial Edition AV Preeminent Rating, Rated by Peers and the Judiciary, Martindale-Hubbell 
  • Employment (Employer), Labour (Management), Workplace Human Rights (Employer) and Workers’ Compensation (Employer), Canadian Legal Lexpert Dictionary 
  • Employment Law, Chambers Global
  • Employment & Labour Law (Alberta), Employment & Labour Law (Canada), Chambers Canada
  • Labour and Employment, The Legal 500 Canada Directory
  • Management Labour & Employment, Who’s Who Legal: Canada
  • AV Preeminent Peer Review Rating, Martindale Hubbell
  • Recognized in Who’s Who Legal as a Global Leader in Labour and Employments 2020 and as a National Leader in Labour, Employment and Benefits 2020

Teaching and Training

  • Hugh speaks regularly at local, provincial, Western Canadian, national and international conferences on a variety of employment/labour law topics.
  • He has also been a sessional lecturer at the University of Saskatchewan Law School, University of Alberta Faculty of Business, and Grant MacEwan Community College.

Professional Associations, Affiliations and Community Activities

  • Current Chair, Advocacy Committee for the Canadian Association of Counsel to Employers
  • Board Member, The Esther Honens International Piano Competition Foundation
  • Former Director, Canadian Association of Counsel to Employers
  • Former Chair, Labour Section of the Canadian Bar Association (Alberta), Edmonton Branch
  • Former Chair, Federal/Provincial Labour Relations Committee of the Edmonton Chamber of Commerce
  • Former Chair, Board of Tempo School and of the Edmonton Opera Association
  • Founding Board Member, Edmonton Recital Society and the Edmonton Gentleman’s Dinner Club

Contact Information




  • LL.M., Dalhousie University (with Distinction)
  • LL.B., University of Saskatchewan
  • B.A., University of Saskatchewan