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January 2012 Newsletter

January 1, 2012


Dear Friends and Colleagues,


Welcome to 2012. Let me try that again. Welcome to 2012!! I remember as a kid thinking how neat it was waiting until the moment the clock struck midnight on new year’s and ushering in an entire new year of possibilities, never again to see the one that just ended.  Now, the goal is to stay up until 10 or until someone says, “it’s new years somewhere…I’m going to bed.”


It was nice to close the office for a few days and get away with family. Some time in Fernie followed by our annual pilgrimage to Quebec to visit my wife’s family. I’ll say this: there’s no cold like Quebec City cold. We joke here “it was -30…but it was a dry cold”. Don’t joke. That’s real. We left Quebec City on the morning of January 4th and it was a moist -33. We landed in Calgary that afternoon and it was +15. A 48 degree temperature swing in one plane ride. It’s like flying to Maui. Only different. Very different.


But I digress. We start the year allowing a brief look-back on 2011. Over 50 searches executed upon successfully for companies large and small, local and global. Law firms, accounting firms, service firms, E&P companies, utilities, pipelines, not-for-profit organizations and many more. We continued to spread our wings from our origins in 2009 of legal only by successfully concluding searches in finance, accounting, HR, regulatory affairs, environmental, supply chain, health & safety and tax, to name a few.  While primarily focused on Calgary, we also worked with clients from Saskatoon to Vancouver; Medicine Hat to Edmonton.   In addition, we raised or donated nearly $100,000 for worthy causes and charities.  We grew our team by adding Amanda Graham to the mix and we revamped our website ( And once again we threw an absolute ring-a-ding-dong-dandy of a rooftop Stampede party (circle July 9, 2012 right now).


But, that was then. This is now. The scoreboard again shows zeroes and the shareholders (my children) demand results. To quote my 7 year old son, “how’s the next quarter lookin’, dad?” Unrelenting. It’s interesting that I started this little venture quite literally in my basement in the summer of 2009 and here we are in 2012. In law firm Associate math this would be our fourth year. Hard to believe.


If you enjoy receiving our newsletter with my monthly musings and some (hopefully) relevant news clippings from the preceding month, thanks for reading. We appreciate it. If you’d rather not receive it, simply unsubscribe and we’ll egg your house next Halloween. Actually, some pretty good reading this month and even a bit of ink for the author. Couldn’t resist including the Muppets article; it’s not particularly good but I liked the movie, which was clearly targeted at 41 year old males. Or at least I hope so.


Seriously, and on behalf of the entire team at Pekarsky Stein, we wish you a very healthy, happy and prosperous 2012.If you want to bank a little good karma early in the year, nowwould be a great time to donate to the Pekarsky Stein Pro Bonos hockey club and help us in our effort to help Stick It To Alzheimer’s as part of the upcoming Scotiabank hockey tournament taking place in April. To make your sponsorship now, please visit my personal donation page and give generously, or even not so generously.




Calgary Goes Global

By:  Marzena Czarnecka
Article Link:


Macleod Dixon’s merger with Norton Rose made one thing clear: Calgary is the most important battleground in Canadian firms’ fight for survival and global relevance


Bill Tuer doesn’t look like a reluctant bride. He looks, well, like what a seasoned, well-respected Calgary corporate lawyer who’s managed one of the city’s most successful, independent law firms for the past decade should look like: a leader who knows in what direction he’s steering the ship and why.


But a reluctant bride is what Tuer, Managing Partner of Calgary energy powerhouse law firm Macleod Dixon LLP, calls himself and the firm. It’s tongue-in-cheek — but also true. Ever since Bay Street’s leading law firms decided that the Calgary market was a market they wanted to be in, Macleod Dixon has been one of their three most desirable targets — one of the Calgary law firms the East most wanted to drag to the altar (the other two, still stalwartly independent: Bennett Jones LLP and Burnet, Duckworth & Palmer LLP). [Read more]

‘The Rare Find’: How Companies can Hire Exceptional Talent
By:  Philip Delves Broughton


Article Link:  linkedin.comIn ‘The Rare Find,’ George Anders looks at how the U.S. Special Forces, Silicon Valley venture capitalists, basketball scouts and others identify and hire exceptional talent.

So much time is wasted searching for talent. So many job fairs, college recruiters and human resources staffs troll for warm bodies and fresh minds, all making the same mistakes: recruiting on credentials rather than potential, experience rather than imagination. Bad hiring is expensive, time-consuming and utterly wasteful for any business. [Read more]

Why Business Lawyers Say No and Why It’s Not Necessarily a Bad Thing
By:  Marzena Czarnecka
Article Link:


Ever said this? “For God’s sake, don’t show this to the lawyers, they’ll only say no.” If you have, you might as well fire your entire legal department. You don’t know how to use them properly – or you hired a bunch of wrong people.


Good business lawyers don’t want to say no. Really. And they really don’t want you to think of them as the Department of No – which is what just about every legal department’s been called by a disgruntled CEO now and then. “That’s definitely a perception you need to battle as in-house counsel,” says Trican’s Bonita Croft. “We try hard not to be the Department of No.” But it’s hard. Because while a company’s legal team does keep an eye on the company’s goals and making sure they can happen, what you’re also paying them for is to “keep an eye on the risks and make sure they don’t happen in the process.”  [Read more]

Three Lessons Lawyers can Learn from the Muppets
By:  Josh Camson
Article Link:


Unless your law practice is located in a cave somewhere without television or internet, you probably know that the Muppets have a new movie in theaters. The film follows the Muppets as they try to reunite and save their old production studio. The movie has several great messages that any lawyer or law student can learn from.


Follow Your Dreams

A large portion of The Muppets is about Walter, Jason Segel’s puppet brother, who has always idolized the Muppets. He lives in Smalltown, USA, where he is completely happy. But his long-time dream of meeting the Muppets has gone unfulfilled over the years, so he travels to Los Angeles to tour The Muppet Studio, only to find it completely desolate. [Read more]

Is Your Business Big Enough, and Your Legal Outlay Large Enough, to Bring an In-House Lawyer On-Board?  The Answer is More Complicated Than You Might Think.
By:  Marzena Czarnecka
Article Link:  albertaventure.comOn The Hot Seat


James Pasieka: Calgary managing partner of national law firm Heenan Blaikie LLP


Bonita Croft: Vice-president, legal, general counsel and corporate secretary with Trican


Anita Dusevic Oliva: Senior legal counsel and corporate secretary with Inter Pipeline Fund


Adam Pekarsky: Founding principal of legal recruiting/consulting firm Pekarsky Stein


You’ve paid one legal bill this quarter, then a second and a third. You’re looking at your year-end legal spend, and you’re horrified. $450,000? On what? For how many hours work?  [Read more]


9 Things that Motivate Employees More than Money
By:  Ilya Pozin
Article Link:  linkedin.comDon’t show ’em the money (even if you have it). Here are nine better ways to boost morale.


The ability to motivate employees is one of the greatest skills an entrepreneur can possess. Two years ago, I realized I didn’t have this skill. So I hired a CEO who did.


Josh had 12 years in the corporate world, which included running a major department at Comcast. I knew he was seasoned, but I was still skeptical at first. We were going through some tough growing pains, and I thought that a lack of cash would make it extremely difficult to improve the company morale.


I was wrong.  [Read more] 

Client Service:  Do Your Clients Feel Appreciated?

By:  Allison Shields
Article Link:


In October, Lawyerist did a poll about marketing vs. client service, which resulted from the lament of some lawyers that there is too much emphasis these days on marketing and technology and not enough emphasis on lawyers gaining (or increasing) competence and serving clients.


But what does ‘serving clients’ really mean?


In my experience, many lawyers confuse ‘serving clients’ with billing hours on client files. Just because you are working on a client’s file and billing hours does not necessarily mean that you are providing high quality client service or satisfying your clients.[Read more]


The Change Train is Picking up Speed
By:  Stephen Mabey
Article Link:


First I would be remiss if I didn’t thank each of you who, for whatever reasons, have taken the time to read my ramblings again this past year. I know you have choices and that you make this column one of them is very gratifying.


When I look back on 2011 it was clearly a year of change. It would seem to me it has been a mixed bag when it comes to the success of the changes attempted by firms. Irrespective of whether the change you are attempting is on a firm, office, department, or personal level there are four key elements that come into play:[Read more]


Make Goals Instead of Resolutions for 2012
By:  Josh Camson


Article Link:  lawyerist.comAnybody can wake up and make a resolution for 2012, but making a concrete goal will be more helpful. One day before January 1, 2012, you may say to yourself “I’m going to be a better parent/sibling/son/daughter,” or “I will get healthy,” or maybe even “I will become my own boss.” These are great resolutions to make to improve your life in the new year. Unfortunately, those resolutions are vague and tough to attain. This year forget your wishy-washy resolutions and make concrete goals for yourself. With these tips you can set yourself on the right track to actually see some changes in 2012, thanks to your new goals. [Read more]