Canadian Lawyer

February 2021

The most widely read magazine for Canadian lawyers

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Page 19 of 35

18 SPECIAL REPORT CORPORATE COUNSEL SURVEY In addition to the Fasken Edge platform, Feldberg says a multidisciplinary group was established at Fasken to advise clients. The firm has regularly organized virtual industry roundtables on topics such as labour and employment to help make sense of the barrage of COVID-19 information out there. Linda Misetich Dann, lead director of the partnership board at Bennett Jones and co-head of the firm's corporate department, says that, despite the inability to meet with corporate counsel in person, she has seen "a strengthening of the relationship between in-house counsel and the law firm counterparts." She adds that the unique pressures and demands of COVID-19 have meant in-house counsel has more need of the external resources that firms can provide, and "all the while trying to maintain or build the relationships that had developed pre-COVID." At Fasken, managing partner Peter Feldberg, responsible for its strategic direction, management, and client services, says the firm put additional emphasis on its Fasken Edge client collaboration platform. "Fasken Edge is not one size fits all," Feldberg says, adding that the firm has been "customizing the tool to clients' needs, and it will continue to be enhanced as the application evolves to meet our client needs." Fasken Edge offers "insights pages" that provide company and industry health report cards using an artificial intelligence-powered markets analytics tool. It also provides curated news feeds on relevant sectors and issues and is designed to simplify legal workflows. the advice they give "is more important now than ever." Misetich Dann points out that COVID-19 has likely placed more demands on in-house counsel "as the C-suite tries to keep up with the twists and turns of the pandemic and what they can and can't do." It is especially true when it comes to some specialty areas, such as labour and employment law or real estate, where in-house counsel might not have the same depth of knowledge and need the expertise of law firms. For example, with issues related to employees during the pandemic, Misetich Dann says it's more than about hiring, firing and layoffs — considerations related to COVID-19 include areas such as public health concerns, social distancing, privacy and immigration. For real estate, many firms try to deal with leases and landlords at a time when revenues are down. "I have seen a strengthening of the relationship between in-house counsel and the law firm counterparts." Linda Misetich Dann, Bennett Jones IF EXTERNAL LEGAL SPEND CHANGED, WHY? WHAT ARE THE KEY REASONS FOR THE CHANGE IN SPENDING VS LAST YEAR? 40 35 30 25 20 15 10 5 0 Issues around the pandemic Sending more work out The business grew Bringing more work into the legal department Isolated/one-off situation, which led to higher fees Other 30% 20% 14% 28% 38% 18% THINKING ABOUT 2021, DO YOU EXPECT THE SIZE OF YOUR DEPARTMENT TO: 1.49% Grow significantly 23.88% Grow somewhat 10.45% Shrink 38.81% No change 25.37% Replace vacancies only

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