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Deborah is a leading lawyer in Canada in the area of commercial leasing transactions. She joined Daoust Vukovich LLP in July, 2000 as a partner. Deborah began her legal career in 1986 as legal counsel at The Cadillac Fairview Corporation Limited. She left Cadillac Fairview to join a major Toronto law firm and later became a partner there.

Throughout her legal career, Deborah has focused exclusively on commercial leasing, acting for developers, landlords and tenants. She has expertise in negotiating and drafting all types of commercial lease documentation for many different uses, including office, retail and industrial, in many different contexts, including office buildings, mixed-use complexes, enclosed regional shopping centres, open air centres and single use properties. Her practice is evenly balanced between representing landlords and tenants.

Deborah is a frequent contributor to industry and legal publications. She has written and lectured extensively, including for the Canadian Bar Association, the Law Society of Ontario, the American and Canadian Law Conferences held by the International Conference of Shopping Centers, Insight Educational Services, and the Real Estate Institute of Canada, on such topics as hot spots for American tenants, e-commerce and commercial leases, issues related to options to renew or extend the term of a lease, the impact of property tax reform on commercial leases and tips on drafting rights of first refusal, repair and replacement obligations, quiet enjoyment and a variety of other topics. She has also lectured at the Shopping Centre Management Program, Sheridan College.

Deborah co-chaired the ICSC 2005 and 2006 Annual Canadian Law Conference. She was Ontario Provincial Director of Government Relations Committee Chair for the Canadian Division Committee of the International Council of Shopping Centers from 2003 to 2005. She is a past director of Toronto CREW (the Toronto Commercial Real Estate Women's Association).

Deborah has been a member of the Ontario bar since 1985. She received her Bachelor of Laws from University of Windsor in 1983 and her Bachelor of Arts (Honours) from York University in 1978.

Recognition & Awards

  • Listed in The Canadian Legal Lexpert Directory 2022 edition
  • Named in the 2022 Best Lawyers™ in Canada list


RealTea Episode 12: Deborah Watkins - Rights to Extend or Renew a Lease

Nov 22, 2023 | RealTea

In this installment, Deborah Watkins "spills the tea" on rights to extend or renew a lease.

Insurance 101

Apr 30, 2018 | Article

Written by Deborah A. Watkins and Brian Parker (ICSC Canadian Shopping Centre Law Conference) INTRODUCTION Insurance is a method to protect against...

Landlord Renovations and Redevelopments: When, if ever, do they give rise to a breach of the Landlord's covenant for Quiet Enjoyment?

Feb 18, 2016 | Article

Written by Deborah Watkins and Brian Parker (The Six-Minute Commercial Leasing Lawyer 2016) When a landlord renovates or repairs its property it mu...

You're Special and They're Special - Specialty Leasing Issues

Apr 14, 2015 | Article

Written by Deborah Watkins (ICSC Canadian Law Conference 2015) Leasing premises to a special use tenant has its advantages; as a tenant invests in ...

A Few Operating Issues: Relocating and Go Dark Rights

Jun 22, 2001 | Article

Written by Deborah Watkins and Joseph Grignano The Law Society of Upper Canada, "Casting the Net Commercial Lease" This paper considers two operati...

Deborah Watkins

P: 416-598-7042

Angela Carpenter
Legal Assistant
P: 416-542-5406


  • Member, International Council of Shopping Centers Annual Canadian Law Conference, Co-chaired, 2005 and 2006
  • Past Director of Toronto Crew (The Toronto Commercial Real Estate Women’s Association)



  • York University, B.A (Honours), 1978
  • University of Windsor, LL.B, 1983
  • Called to the Bar in Ontario in 1985

Related Practices