Brian Johnston, QC


“Higher; faster.”

The big picture.

When it comes to employment and labour issues, most problems do not get better with time. Brian approaches his work with a sense of urgency, providing creative solutions with a practical road map to get there. Brian is known for getting the job done – and getting the results his clients want.

Representative matters

Brian works with virtually every type of employer in Canada in a wide variety of industries, including transportation, manufacturing, construction, mining, financial services, universities, healthcare, telecommunications, retail and utilities. His work has included:
  • Successfully concluding collective agreement settlements at less than mandate.
  • Discreetly dealing with executive level employment terminations.
  • Developing labour relations strategies for clients across Canada and internationally.
  • Advising employers on drug and alcohol policies.

Areas of practice

  • Labour and Employment
  • Workers’ Compensation
  • Workplace Human Rights
  • Pensions & Employee Benefits
  • Occupational Health and Safety
  • Employment Law
  • Labour Relations


Nova Scotia, 1981


Nova Scotia Barristers' Society


Dalhousie University, LL.B., 1980
Mount Allison University, B.Comm. (honours with distinction), 1977




  • Member, Canadian Bar Association
  • Member, American Employment Law Council
  • Practice group leader, Labour & Employment, Stewart McKelvey, 2008-2011
  • Member, American Bar Association
  • Member, Human Resources Association of Nova Scotia
  • Member, Canadian Industrial Relations Association
  • Member, Employment Advisory Board for Practical Law - Canada
  • Chair, Board of Regents, Mount Allison University, 2005-2006




Employment Law
Labour Relations


BV Distinguished®

Martindale-Hubbell is the facilitator of a peer review rating process. Ratings reflect the anonymous opinions of members of the bar and the judiciary. Martindale-Hubbell® Peer Review Ratings™ fall into two categories - legal ability and general ethical standards.


  • Best Lawyers 2016 and 2012 Labour and Employment Law "Lawyer of the Year" in Halifax
  • Legal Media Group, Expert Guides, World's Finest Labour & Employment lawyers, 2014
  • Best Lawyers: Labour and Employment Law, 2006-2019
  • The International Who's Who of Management Labour and Employment Lawyers (2014-2018)
  • Who’s Who Legal:  Canada 2011-2018 (Management Labour & Employment)
  • Legal Media Group, Guide to the World’s Leading Labour and Employment Lawyers


  • Regular contributor, Canadian Employment Law Today and Canadian HR Reporter


  • AMANS/UNSN, Legalization of Cannabis: Municipal Impacts, "Cannabis in the Workplace", May 2017
  • CPHR Nova Scotia, "Trends in Labour and Employment Law", May 2017
  • Innis Christie Lecture & Symposium in Labour and Employment Law, "Coping with the Fissured Workplace and Precarious Employment", March 2017
  • HRANS Conference, "Marijuana in the Workplace", November 2016
  • HRANS Conference, "Recent Legal Developments", May 2015
  • American Bar Association's International Labour and Employment Law Conference, Barcelona Spain, May 2015
  • Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee, Bill C-377, Union Financial Disclosure, April 2015
  • Innis Christie Lecture & Symposium in Labour and Employment Law, "Labour Market Regulation and the Ivany Report", October 2014
  • Lancaster House Labour Law Conference, "The Supreme Court's Irving Decision - Last Call for Random Drug and Alcohol Testing", October 2014
  • Lancaster House Labour Law Conference, "Collective Bargaining and the Right to Strike: Are they endangered species?", October 2013
  • HRANS Conference, Top Legal Trends, June 2013
  • CBA-NS Labour & Employment Law Section Dinner Meeting “Experienced Counsel Analyze Tough Decisions”, November 2012
  • Insight Conference, Co-Chair, Disability Claims in the Workplace, May 2012
  • Insight Conference, Atlantic Canada Construction Labour Relations, “Practical Advice on Drug & Alcohol Testing. Update on Where the Law is Taking Us”, May 2012
  • Osgoode Certificate in Law, January 2012

Suite 900
Purdy's Wharf Tower One
1959 Upper Water Street
Halifax, NS, Canada
B3J 3N2

P 902.420.3374
F 902.420.1417

Email Brian

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Providing legal services through a professional corporation.


Susan Snow

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