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Brian Johnston, K.C.


Queen’s Marque
600-1741 Lower Water Street
Halifax, N.S.
B3J 0J2



LinkedIn Profile

Language(s) spoken: English

Bar Admission(s): Nova Scotia, 1981

Legal Assistant(s): Amber MacInnis

Providing legal services through a professional corporation.

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.
  • Discreetly dealing with executive level and other employment terminations.
  • Dealing with unionization drives
  • Developing labour relations strategies for clients across Canada and internationally.
  • Advising employers on drug and alcohol policies.
  • Litigating before labour arbitrators, labour boards, human rights tribunals and courts; both federally and provincially.

Education & Career


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


Fellow, College of Labor and Employment Lawyers
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, Employment Advisory Board for Practical Law – Canada
Chair, Board of Regents, Mount Allison University, 2005-2006


Chambers and Partners Canada 2022-2024 Employment & Labour – Atlantic Canada, Band 1 lawyer
Best Lawyers 2021 Labour and Employment Law “Lawyer of the Year” in Halifax
King’s Counsel, 1998
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 – 2024
The International Who’s Who of Management Labour and Employment Lawyers (2014-2023)
Who’s Who Legal: Global Thought Leaders 2021, 2023 (Labour & Employment)
Who’s Who Legal: World’s Leading List of Canadian Lawyers (2022-2023)
Who’s Who Legal: Canada 2011 – 2023 (Labour, Employment & Benefits)
Legal Media Group, Guide to the World’s Leading Labour and Employment Lawyers
Lexpert rating: Employment Law, 2008 – 2024
Lexpert rating: Labour Relations, 2008 – 2024
Lexpert rating: Workplace Human Rights, 2008, 2013 – 2014
Martindale-Hubbell rating: BV Distinguished®

Thought Leadership


Regular contributor, Canadian Employment Law Today and Canadian HR Reporter


Co-presenter, “Federal Focus”, Stewart McKelvey Labour and Employment webinar

January 27, 2022

Co-presenter, “Trending Topics”, Stewart McKelvey Labour and Employment webinar

November 23, 2021

Nova Scotia CEO Safety Charter Council – 10 Things Every CEO Should Know About Cannabis, October 2018

CPHR Nova Scotia, “Trends in Labour and Employment Law”, May 2017

AMANS/UNSN, Legalization of Cannabis: Municipal Impacts, “Cannabis in the Workplace”, 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

American Bar Association’s International Labour and Employment Law Conference, Barcelona Spain, May 2015

HRANS Conference, “Recent Legal Developments”, May 2015

Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee, Bill C-377, Union Financial Disclosure, April 2015

Lancaster House Labour Law Conference, “The Supreme Court’s Irving Decision – Last Call for Random Drug and Alcohol Testing”, October 2014

Innis Christie Lecture & Symposium in Labour and Employment Law, “Labour Market Regulation and the Ivany Report”, 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, Atlantic Canada Construction Labour Relations, “Practical Advice on Drug & Alcohol Testing. Update on Where the Law is Taking Us”, May 2012

Insight Conference, Co-Chair, Disability Claims in the Workplace, May 2012

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