Canadian Lawyer

December/January 2021

The most widely read magazine for Canadian lawyers

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Page 22 of 43 21 Indeed, of the 419 lawyers who answered the question on what qualities are important "when thinking about how an employer can meet the needs of their employees," with "one" being not important and "five" being very important, 404 gave "team/workplace culture" a four or five rating. Likewise, a total of 375 rated "strong mentorship" as a four or five on the importance scale. The good news is that, when asked how their firm fared on those qualities, employers were making the grade, our survey showed: 355 gave their employer a four or five rating on team/workplace culture and a four or five rating 319 on strong mentorship. One female lawyer with a national firm in Ontario described her employer this way: "Fantastic files and clients; colleagues, both lawyers and non-lawyers, who are smart, dedicated and wonderful to work with; compensation not focused on billable-hour targets; and a growing emphasis on diversity and inclusion." On the other hand, those who responded said their firms could do better when it came to diversity among partners and firm leadership and how case files could be distributed more evenly, based on availability and skills. Here's how one male lawyer at a national firm in Ontario put that last point: "Allocate work better — as a lawyer practising in the general corporate group, being a team player and assisting in all areas of the corporate group sometimes means you get stuck doing tasks or files you don't want to do, whereas others who are less of a team player don't end up having to do such tasks." A female lawyer with a global firm in Western Canada said she'd like her employer LAW FIRM QUALITIES (RANKED IN ORDER OF IMPORTANCE BY RESPONDENTS) 1. Team environment 2. Strong management 3. Mentorship 4. Firm's reputation 5. Competitive salary 6. Good client base 7. Support staff 8. Technology resources 9. Bonus opportunities 10. Reasonable billable hours 11. Work-life balance 12. Flexible work hours 13. Diversity of partners, leadership 14. Ability to work from home 15. Parental leave 16. Budget for professional development 17. Autonomy when choosing clients, cases 18. Location of the office 19. Case files distributed evenly 20. Pro bono opportunities 21. Relaxed dress code 22. Prestige of office décor/setting DR. ALY HAJI comes to practising law with an impressive background. Before graduating from the joint LLB/BCL-MBA program at McGill University, he was a pharmacist with a degree from the University of Toronto. He also went to Cambridge University for a master's degree in law. Friends and colleagues, he says, told him that "with that kind of resumé, I could have gone to a big firm, I could have gone into consulting, I could probably have done whatever I wanted to." As it turns out, what Haji decided he wanted to do is work at a small boutique firm, GlickLaw LLP, with three lawyers, including himself. So, the question one might ask is: Why? For starters, Haji says, it's the firm's culture. "It's really open to individual fulfilment as opposed to being profit driven." Then there's the ability to spread his wings "and feel that I'm able to contribute to the running of the firm," he says. "It's really important to be able to make an impact on my workplace and be able to shape the way the work is done." And, finally, says Haji, the firm has made him feel confident that there is room to develop there as a lawyer. "With every file that I build, with every kind of interaction I have with a client, I am doing things that would take many more years for an associate at another firm to do. I'm interviewing witnesses, talking to clients, negotiating with other lawyers." In many ways, Haji represents what Canadian Lawyer's survey of legal workplaces discovered — that when assessing a firm's qualities, what most lawyers are looking for is a workplace culture that feels like a team and offers room for development. "Millennial lawyers do want to work. They just want the context of that work to be more meaningful." Aly Haji, GlickLaw

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