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July 2012 Newsletter

July 1, 2012

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

The other day, during yet another cold, dark June downpour in Calgary, someone made the observation that seeing as the summer solstice had come and gone the days were now getting shorter. I thought that was an obnoxious thing to say. This coming on the heels of an email from a friend advising that the market cap of Greece is the same as that of TripAdvisor. I then read the fourth annual Altman Weil Law Firms in Transition survey (below) and learned that law firms believe now more than ever that there will be fewer equity partners, smaller first year classes and a continuing move toward commoditized legal work. For those who read this newsletter regularly, you’ll know that November is my least favourite of all the months. Suffice to say June is make a compelling case.

But I’m a glass half full kind of guy. So I prefer to bid adieu to June and along with it our third complete fiscal year of operations. Please indulge  me and endure two paragraphs of unabashed self aggrandizing back patting.

First off, we are really excited to start our fourth year next Tuesday with two new Client Partners!

Screen_shot_2012_06_27_at_5.14.59_PM Screen_shot_2012_06_27_at_5.16.55_PM


Although I announced Paige’s arrival last month, she officially starts with us on Tuesday and we are delighted to have her skill, good humour and expertise gleaned over a 10+ year career in executive search, most recently with Spencer Stuart. As for Ranju, she’s been with this firm from the very start. In her three years with us, Ranju has excelled every step of the way developing a great personal brand within the Legal, Finance and HR communities. We couldn’t be happier to be calling Ranju (among other names we call her) Partner.  Lisa continues to excel in all that she does around here and as she closes in on two years with the firm, is quickly developing her own reputation for excellence.   Brenda keeps the trains running on time as Calgary’s most excellent and ruthlessly efficient E.A.  It’s no wonder Terry and I have worked with (for?) Brenda for over 10 years at various stops along the way.   We are very fortunate to be surrounded by people who are smarter and better looking than us.

Over the course of the past twelve months we have had the privilege of assisting our key clients on a multitude of challenging and varied searches. Our clients range from national law firms to major E&P companies; not-for-profits to junior gas companies (which some may also call not-for-profits these days); from service companies to health regions; financial firms to pipelines. The roles have varied from CFOs to General Counsels; Partners to Marketing Directors; senior level HR professionals to Directors of Supply Chain; and EH&S specialists to Government Relations experts. Along the way, we managed to sneak in a firm boondoggle to Vegas and paid for our sins by re-upping our commitments to a variety of local charities, most notably the Alberta Children’s Hospital where we will once again be a Gold Level Sponsor for the 2012 Candy Cane Gala. And did I mention our Rooftop Stampede Party? The RSVP’s are rolling in but if you haven’t yet responded, please click here before Tuesday to confirm your intentions.

So, goodbye fiscal 2012 and good riddance to June.  And, speaking of adieus, farewell to Amanda Graham, our junior-most member who, just as we discovered her from Red Deer one year ago, has been discovered by one of our clients who recently coaxed her in-house. Law firms, I feel your pain…

All was not lost in June, however.  According to the Altman Weil survey,  “Firms are more expansive in their thinking in 2012, with larger numbers declaring their intentions to hire groups of lawyers, acquire smaller law firms and open new offices.”  This is good. I also tend to agree with the authors’ concluding quote, and believe it applies to our humble operation as much as it does to the clients we serve: “This is an exciting time in a profession not prone to exuberance, a time when risk-takers have the potential to capture attention, talent, momentum and market share. Firms that wait for perfect conditions, ideal timing or the best plan will fall behind.” Amen.

Have a great July, Happy Canada Day, enjoy Stampede and though the days are getting shorter, they appear at least to be getting sunnier.




Major Shift in Law Firm Leader’s Attitudes
By:  Thomas S. Clay and Eric A. Seeger
Article Link:

The fourth annual Altman Weil Law Firms in Transition Survey finds that a dramatic shift in attitudes has occurred among US law firm leaders since the survey was launched in spring 2009, just six months after the first shocks of the economic meltdown.

“Emerging legal market trends that were viewed with considerable skepticism in 2009 have become majority opinions in 2012,” said Altman Weil principal Eric Seeger. “These are striking changes.”[Read more]

Global Law Firms Rule M&A List
By:  Jim Middlemiss
Article Link:

Canadian merger-and-acquisition activity continues to be golden, which is good news for local law firms. While global mergers-and-acquisitions activity trended down by 34.8 per cent in the first quarter of 2012, Canada fared much better, according to the Q1 league tables from Thomson Reuters.

The value of Canadian deals was up a healthy 87.7 per cent over the same period last year. Only Switzerland, North Africa, and Malaysia saw bigger percentage increases. Most of the world saw sizable decreases, according to the figures. [Read more]

Law Firms’ Greatest Challenges
By:  Thomas S. Clay and Eric A. Seeger
Article Link:

The 2012 Law Firms in Transition Survey asked firm leaders to comment on their firms’ greatest challenges in the next 24 months. In this special report, we’ve identified the top areas of concern, analyzed responses by firm size, and included a selection of sample comments from firm leaders.
Download the special Report

Articling in-house:  What are the Opportunities?
By:  Bev Cline
Article Link:

If you think you might want an in-house legal career at a corporation, should you try to gain an in-house articling position? Are companies looking to build their law departments from the ground up by hiring articling students? Are there a lot of in-house articling positions at Canadian companies, and if so, how hard are these positions to attain?

While traditionally there have been articling positions in government, some unions and non-profits, articling positions in corporate law departments are still the exception, not the norm. The competition for these positions is fierce and getting tougher.  [Read more]

Why Women Still Can’t Have it all
By:  Anne-Marie Slaugher

It’s time to stop fooling ourselves, says a woman who left a position of power: the women who have managed to be both mothers and top professionals are superhuman, rich, or self-employed. If we truly believe in equal opportunity for all women, here’s what has to change.

Eighteen months intomy job as the first woman director of policy planning at the State Department, a foreign-policy dream job that traces its origins back to George Kennan, I found myself in New York, at the United Nations’ annual assemblage of every foreign minister and head of state in the world. On a Wednesday evening, President and Mrs. Obama hosted a glamorous reception at the American Museum of Natural History. [Read more]

How to Successfully Build Pro Bono Work into your Practice
By:  Janice Mucalov
Article Link:

With Canada’s legal aid system in crisis, you’re no doubt keenly aware of the increasing demand for pro bono legal work. You may already volunteer your services for free. Certainly you’re happy to help out if asked. You may even have an idea for a pro bono project to benefit a particularly cherished cause or needy organization. But how do you rally the support of fiscally-conscious partners or encourage other lawyers in the firm to step up? Where do you find the time to incorporate pro bono work into your already busy practice? Does pro bono make good business sense? Are there technology tools for easier delivery of pro bono services? [Read more] 

Why Staffing Firms Save Your Customers Money
By:  Ryan Connors
Article Link:

Think back to your most recent “bad hire.” Remember the time, effort and resources that went into posting the job, screening candidates, interviewing and training. And then there was the trial period. Like most companies, you’ve gone through the discomfort a bad hire can bring. By the time you cut your losses, this preventable mistake will have cost you and your company over $40,000, and in some cases even $200,000, when valuable customers get caught in the flack.[Read more]

First Impressions
By:  Rebecca Lockwood
Article Link:

Before law school, what did you think of lawyers? What kind of people did you expect to meet in this field? What personality types?

People seem to have concrete ideas about what a lawyer is meant to be. However, those impressions aren’t always positive nor are they always based on fact. Nonetheless, when you tell someone you want to be a lawyer, you are sure to get a reaction. [Read more]