Recognized as one of Alberta's Top Employers (2016)
By Richard Yerema and Kristina Leung, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Feb 3, 2016)
Here are some of the reasons why Duncan Craig LLP was selected as one of Alberta's Top Employers (2016):
- Duncan Craig LLP provides opportunities for students and new grads to gain relevant work experience through summer student roles, co-op opportunities and paid internships -- the firm also accepts practicum students from MacEwan University for 6 or 12 week periods to provide exposure to a minimum of 6 different legal practice areas
- Duncan Craig LLP invests in the long-term development of its employees through subsidies for tuition and professional accreditation, financial bonuses for some course completion (up to $1,000) and a formal mentoring program
- Duncan Craig LLP offers compassionate leave top-up payments for employees who are called upon to care for a loved one (to 100% of salary for 12 weeks)
Duncan Craig LLP: a legal firm with a social conscience
With a quarter-century of experience in the legal profession, Darren Bieganek has seen a clear shift in priorities when it comes to what attracts young lawyers to a particular firm. "The attitude is very different from when I started out," says Bieganek, Managing Partner of Edmonton-based Duncan Craig LLP, one of Alberta's oldest and best-known law firms. "This generation feels they need to be engaged in something that gives them a sense of purpose beyond just coming to work and making money."
Duncan Craig LLP provides multiple opportunities for its 50 lawyers and close to 100 support staff to contribute to the community the law firm has been a part of since 1894. In addition to supporting dozens of charitable organizations, scholarships and fundraising initiatives, the firm encourages staff members to volunteer at an organization of their choice and gives them paid time off work to do so.
This past May, four partners and 25 staff members and associates raised money for the Heart and Stroke Foundation riding around downtown Edmonton as a part of the charitable organization's Big Bike Day. In December, staff and lawyers collected urgently needed items for WIN House, which provides support to women and children fleeing domestic violence. Quarterly, groups of Duncan Craig LLP volunteers can be found at charities such as the Hope Mission, helping prepare meals for Edmonton's homeless.
"Being engaged with our community isn't something we just talk about; we live it," says Bieganek. "And when it comes to hiring, one of the first things we look for is well-rounded people. We find that people who are engaged in outside activities and do some volunteer work also tend to be organized with their time and have track record of getting things done. They are generally able to follow through on their commitments."
Duncan Craig LLP, which practises a wide range of law, provides articling students with a rigorously supervised "hands-on" program, with regular reviews to ensure students are getting the experience they need. "We take seriously our responsibility to make sure they get the absolute best training in the practice of law that we can possibly give them," says Bieganek.
Lawyers and legal staff enjoy a wide range of career development opportunities, including subsidized course work, leadership training, career planning and formal mentoring. A healthy work-life balance is also encouraged through initiatives such as flexible work hours, telecommuting and staggered sabbaticals for partners of the firm.
Samantha Jones, who works as a legal assistant in the firm's estates group, says Duncan Craig LLP has been much more than an employer to her; it's also been a kind of surrogate family.
The Drumheller native knew no one when she first moved to Edmonton, but she quickly became friends with many of her co-workers. "As someone with no family here, they really are my family away from home," says Jones.
When her mother was diagnosed with cancer in 2014, Jones says, she received nothing but support from the firm. "They gave me whatever time off I needed to go and help take care of her, and the other staff worked really closely with me to cover any work that needed to get done."
Jones says she appreciates the collegial work culture at Duncan Craig LLP and the steps management takes to foster career growth.
"The firm is always encouraging and supporting us to improve and expand our knowledge base so we can provide the best possible service to our clients," she adds. "There's also very much an open-door policy here and people are willing to give of their time and mentor each other."
Jones, who recently volunteered at the Hope Mission, says she also likes working for an employer with a social conscience. "With everything going on in the world right now, it's such a good feeling to be able to give someone a bit of a helping hand. It instills a renewed faith in humanity to work at a place that really strives to give back to the community."