red line  THE AMPERSAND  red line

Bringing people together in a more personal, authentic way
than an ‘and’ could ever do.

November 2012 Newsletter

November 1, 2012


Dear Friends and Colleagues,

Summer ended.  Winter started.  Bang.  Welcome to October, sucker.   I’ll resist the urge to feel too sorry for ourselves given what Sandy did (is doing) to our friends in the east.

We have been undergoing a very interesting internal exercise at the firm these past few weeks, one which stemmed from a September planning retreat.  It was decided at that session that although we are well known for our legal search work, we need to do a better job telling the world about our ability to assist with recruitment in finance, accounting, HR, and other related corporate services.  Fact is, our current team of seven people has (is blessed with?) only one lawyer, and I’m a recovering one at that, 11 years since my last think.  Ok, that was weak.  The remaining six members of our team bring a diverse cross section of skills and functional expertise from education to environmental sciences; from human resources to finance and accounting.   In fact, five of the seven of us bring search experience from either Korn/Ferry International or Spencer Stuart International, two of the leading global search firms whose reputations are built largely on their finance, accounting, executive and “c-suite” related search work.   And we’ve successfully concluded literally dozens of searches of non-legal executives in the past year.  Yet, we are still seen as primarily legal.  So, it was decided we should hire an outside expert to assist in taking our brand to the broader marketplace while holding true to our “no advertising” mantra.   With three full years under our belt, goes the argument, we are ready for Pekarsky Stein 2.0 having taken the brand as far as we can in a built-it-in-our-garage-homemade sort of way.  That’s not the interesting part.

The interesting part is that for a few fleeting moments during our various interview meetings with potential firms as we worked to select the one vendor who would accept this mission, we got to be the client.  For those of you on the “sell side” of your business, you know how rare that can be.   Actually being sold to.   In short, being the Sheriff in the old western doing the shootin’ and watching the other guy dance.   Not that we took any joy or satisfaction from sitting on the other side of the table (okay, maybe a little) but it was an eye opener for us in terms of how we go about seeking business from and pitching to, our prospective clients.  To wit, trying to dazzle us, a firm known for its deep local roots and proud Western Canadian base, with your deep Toronto client list…not a great idea; actually saying mid-pitch, “we’ve worked on some of the most complex campaigns with the most sophisticated clients on Bay Street….not that we can’t  work with you….” well, that’s one of those moments when time stands still as the slow squeak of the boardroom chairs fills the air.   So, if nothing else, hopefully we have learned how to do better when we revert to our usual role of sell-or; and better still, hopefully the firm we select will help take our message to a broader market, one which includes the people who read this newsletter and hopefully many who don’t.

This month’s reading is varied.  Succession planning remains a hot issue (see “Succession for Sustainability”), especially with the rise of the non-equity partner in many firms.  Is non-equity partnership just ‘kissing your sister’, a clever ploy to extend leverage by a few years without impacting per partner profitability or is it a true and meaningful apprenticeship to life as a “real” partner?   Or how about the article entitled “The End of Forced Articling”?  I have an idea.   Perhaps the law schools should consider admitting fewer students at the front end so as to reduce the pressure on the firms to hire on the back end.  And a final comment on the L’expert cover (see “The Art of the Deal”)…perhaps it’s because I know both guys but I can’t help but think that Dave is just about to pull Frank’s chair out from under him.   Congrats to you both.  You’re famous!  Don’t forget the little people.

Finally, on a more serious note, we were thrilled to have recently sponsored the Canadian Women’s Foundation 2012 Calgary Annual Breakfast by hosting several of our clients at the Pekarsky Stein table purchased in support of this worthy cause. We are proud to have done our part to help raise more than $500,000 to help women on their journey out of poverty. Funds raised go toward life-changing programs that help low-income women out of poverty and toward financial security. For more information on this great cause, please see their website by clicking here.  We will once again be supporting this worthy cause with another Pekarsky Stein table at their November event.

Speaking of November, have a good one.





Succession for Sustainability

By:  James D. Cotterman

Article Link:

I’m writing this article as the 2012 Summer Olympic Games come to a close. In four years the summer games will be hosted by Brazil. The Olympic website states that the process to select a host city begins nine years prior to the event with the bidding process. Operational planning begins five years out. An Olympiad requires extensive lead times. [Read more]


The End of Forced Articling For Lawyers on the Table

By:  Kirk Makin

Article Link:

A shortage of law firms willing to hire articling students is forcing changes to a venerable – and fear-inducing – step along the journey to a career in law.

The governing body of Ontario lawyers – the Law Society of Upper Canada – will vote this week on a proposal to create a licensing process that would bypass the need for articling.   [Read more]



Law in the Global Marketplace

By:  Yves Faguy

Article Link:

For better or for worse, the practice of law isn’t what it used to be.

It isn’t what they typically prepare you for in law school, but the market for legal services is undergoing a sea change. Of course it’s impossible to say with any degree of accuracy what the legal marketplace will look like in 10 years. But this much you can expect: It will be significantly different than it is today. Already the landscape of law has been disrupted in ways most of us couldn’t have imagined possible as little as a decade ago. [Read more]


Art of the Deal:  What is it Really Like Working on an Energy Deal?

By:  Marzena Czarnecka

Article Link:

They tell you about deals like this in law school. Textbook, they call them — the deals that unfold just the way they should…And then they tell you that this is theory, and that in real life a deal will never play out like this.

Except that, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus, and everything on a deal can go right. All you need is an experienced buyer that knows exactly what it wants (and what it’s willing to pay for the goods), a prepared target that knows what it’s worth (and what it’s willing to give up), management teams that hit it off even when engaging in hardball negotiation, boards that know what fiduciary duty means, and financial and legal advisors who go the distance.  [Read more]


Leadership and Other G Words

By:  Stephen Mabey

Article Link:

We talk about leadership a lot! In fact lots of people talk about it a lot!

In talking about it so much we just may have built an impenetrable force field around it so lawyers and staff have stopped trying to live it because we have begun to think it is only reserved for those folks breathing air at the top of the mountain. [Read more]


Client Service:  Are Your Clients Really Satisfied?

By:  Roy Ginsburg

Article Link:

If you are like many lawyers, you assume your clients are satisfied. Oftentimes, three reasons support their assumption. Their clients don’t complain, they pay, and they come back. Each of these answers seems reasonable as an indication of client satisfaction. In reality, however, they provide little support.  [Read more]



Always Play Nice in the Sandbox

By:  Geoff Kirbyson

Article Link:

Lawyers can be human bulldogs, fearless and often ruthless in the pursuit of getting what’s right for their clients. But if they want to optimize their efforts, a trio of veteran lawyers says they should heed their mothers’ advice and be nice.

Being respectful and civilized in dealing with opposing counsel as well as judges can serve your side well both today and down the road, they say. [Read more]


The Seasons of Your Career: Winter, When Careers Transform

By:  Ed Poll

Article Link:

Making the right decision on career transformation allows any lawyer to reap the benefits of a thriving practice and the years-long investment of time and effort that created it.

Lawyers are not immortal. Older lawyers who continue to apply the client service lessons learned throughout the spring, summer and autumn of their careers, and who keep up with evolving professional rules and trends through professional development, should not automatically feel that reaching a particular age requires them to retire. [Read more]


Canada’s Top 100 Employers for 2013

By:  Special to The Globe and Mail

Article Link:

To view the list click here.