Canadian Lawyer

March 2021

The most widely read magazine for Canadian lawyers

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BUSINESS STRATEGY TOP BOUTIQUES SPECIAL REPORT 20 www.canadianlawyermag.com WHEN YOU'RE dealing with a deadly pandemic that is more fatal to the elderly than most others, the law surrounding wills, estates and trusts can come sharply into focus. This year's winners of Canadian Lawyer's Top 10 Boutiques in Wills, Estates and Trusts have seen some key trends emerge recently, especially those related to COVID-19. Among them is the rise of video conference options for dealing with estate planning during a pandemic that has left many people unable or unwilling to leave the safety of their home. Daniel Paperny, a partner with winning firm WEL Partners, says client meetings, court hearings and mediations are all conducted over Zoom, and "we have normal- ized the practice of taking affidavits and witnessing the execution of certain docu- ments via video conference as well. "To say that the pandemic has impacted our practice area and the way we do business would be an understatement," says Paperny. The pandemic has revealed necessary modernizations long overdue in estate and trust planning, including virtual execution of testamentary documents and advances toward digitizing wills. And, like many, lawyers and support staff aren't in the office as much as they used to be, most of the time doing their work from home. Margaret O'Sullivan, managing partner TOP WILLS, TRUSTS AND ESTATES LAW BOUTIQUES: Leaving a legacy that will last at winner O'Sullivan Estate Lawyers, says these changes will "allow more efficiency and ability to accommodate clients wherever they may be, including snowbirds going south and others to their summer homes, which will smooth out the process." Likewise, estate planning on video platforms will live on beyond the pandemic. "Our ability to reach out to our clients wherever they may be in the world will present new opportunities and give us a true global reach." Many clients of wills, estates and trust boutiques have lost loved ones who have fallen ill, been hospitalized and died due to COVID-19. Often, the death of someone due to COVID-19 can be sudden and unexpected, so there was no estate plan in place. Of In late 2020, Canadian Lawyer asked lawyers, in-house counsel and clients from across Canada to vote on the wills, estates and trust boutiques. They were asked to rank their top firms from a preliminary list, with a chance to nominate a firm that was not included. To qualify for our list and be voted for in our survey, firms were required to derive a minimum of 80 per cent of their work from wills, trusts and estate law. HOW WE DID IT

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