Recognized as one of Greater Toronto's Top Employers (2019):
By Richard Yerema and Kristina Leung, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Dec 6, 2018)
Here are some of the reasons why Borden Ladner Gervais LLP was selected as one of Greater Toronto's Top Employers (2019):
- Borden Ladner Gervais LLP supports employees who are new mothers and fathers with maternity and parental leave top-up payments (varying by employee group) and offers a number of in-house resources, including presentations and panel discussions on related topics, a new parent toolkit, and a parent coaching program for lawyers
- Borden Ladner Gervais LLP invests in ongoing employee development with tuition subsidies for job-related courses (to $1,000) and subsidies for professional accreditation
- Borden Ladner Gervais LLP organizes a "Lion's Lair", the firm's take on the popular Dragon's Den show, to encourage team members to share their ideas on topics ranging from client service improvements to operational processes -- ideas are assessed by judges and winners receive a cash prize of $5,000, as well as recognition at the annual National Awards Gala
Borden Ladner Gervais sets precedents for law firms
Before a recruiter for Borden Ladner Gervais LLP (BLG) contacted Richelle Molaro in 2014 she had never considered working for a law firm. At the time, she had just moved to Ottawa, after starting her career in Montreal doing data analytics.
Still, BLG was looking for someone with experience in client relationship management (CRM), a core skill for a business analyst. "I didn't know law firms even used CRM so I was interested in hearing about what they were up to," Molaro recalls. "I was soon thinking 'this is innovative, they're really forward thinking'."
She took the job and as she progressed in her career took an opportunity to move to the firm's Toronto office in 2015. Today, she is National Director, Practice Management - Specialized Litigation. The title reflects not only two promotions for Molaro, but the growing role for non-legal professionals in helping to make law firms more creative and competitive.
Molaro is one of three national directors who report directly to the COO (also not a lawyer). Their mandate, she says, is to help lawyers in all BLG's different practice groups achieve financial, operational and client-service excellence.
With offices in five cities and more than 700 lawyers and intellectual property agents, BLG is one of Canada's largest full-service litigation and arbitration, and intellectual property solutions. In addition to assisting clients with their legal needs, the firm is also introducing new non-legal services to help address clients' business challenges.
Andrew Harrison, Regional Managing Partner, BLG Toronto, joined a predecessor firm 30 years ago before a series of mergers with other stand-alone firms created one national firm. He's had a front-row seat ever since as BLG has continued to evolve and implement new processes and ideas, some ushered in with the help of experts and technologies new to the legal profession.
The goal is to enable the firm to leverage innovations internally to serve clients more efficiently and effectively, Harrison says. For instance, using artificial intelligence to review contracts, once a time-consuming task, both increases productivity and lowers costs.
Harrison says that people from disparate backgrounds also contribute to the diversity of the firm. Along with people with different ethnicities, cultures, genders and orientations, they're critical to BLG's ability to serve its clients, he says. "We're all part of the same team," he adds. "Everyone's ideas are treated with respect and everyone can make valuable contributions to the success of the firm."
To that end, BLG places great emphasis on continuing education and professional development, offering a wide range of courses that Harrison describes as going well beyond any training required by provincial law societies. With topics ranging from technical skills to legacy planning, there are courses for articling students through associates to partners on the eve of retirement, and programs for business advance along a well-known path, the firm offers everyone at BLG opportunities to upgrade their careers.
Molaro says that was certainly the case for her. Initially, she learned on the job, both by doing and being mentored. But for her next step forward, BLG sent her on a one-week course at the Harvard Business School. "It was just phenomenal," she says. "That was a life-changing experience."
The allure of working for a leading law firm where there's room to grow is undeniable.
But Harrison also credits certain intangible factors with contributing to job satisfaction at BLG. Recent university graduates, he notes, are often attracted by the opportunity to do pro bono work.
As well, many at BLG actively support charitable organizations and volunteer groups. One example, he says, is how the Toronto office banded together to sponsor a Syrian refugee family.
"People value the opportunity to give back," says Harrison. "We feel very positive about working here."
Recognized as one of Canada's Best Diversity Employers (2019):
By Kristina Leung and Richard Yerema, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Feb 28, 2019)
Here are some of the reasons why Borden Ladner Gervais LLP was selected as one of Canada's Best Diversity Employers (2019):
- Borden Ladner Gervais LLP maintains a women's leadership development committee to help identify leadership opportunities for women, organize networking and mentoring events, and make recommendations on related policies and programs, such as maternity and parental leave top-up policies
- The firm is also a signatory to the Catalyst Accord 2022, which aims to increase the number of women on boards and in executive positions to 30 per cent by 2022
- Borden Ladner Gervais LLP created the Driven by Women initiative to support the needs of female-led and female-founded partners -- women lawyers work with women entrepreneurs to help them achieve their goals through community-building events, seminars and flexible-fee arrangements
Respect and acceptance rule at Borden Ladner Gervais (BLG)
When Kris Dalrymple decided to come out at work as a transgender man, he thought he knew what to expect. After working for Borden Ladner Gervais LLP (BLG) for eight years, he'd seen how the national law firm's proactive approach to diversity and inclusion had helped to create a team environment where everyone is valued and respected.
Even so, Dalrymple was overwhelmed by the heart-warming reaction to his open letter explaining his decision after it appeared on BLG's internal website. A flood of emails, voicemails and face-to-face interactions revealed that people in the firm's five offices not only accepted him, they were celebrating his decision to be true to himself.
"I've always felt safe and welcome at work, but I had still prepared myself for just about anything," says Dalrymple, Administrator, Records Management, in BLG's Ottawa office. "And then there was such an outpouring of support. I was humbled by the feedback."
BLG's first National Director of Diversity and Inclusion, Laleh Moshiri, Borden Ladner Gervais LLP had worked with Dalrymple beforehand and then flown from the firm's Toronto office to be with him when the article was posted. "That day our people literally and figuratively wrapped their arms around Kris," she says. "That says a lot about our inclusive, welcoming environment."
Moshiri attributes that to the groundwork BLG had laid over the years. With more than 700 lawyers and intellectual property agents, BLG is one of Canada's largest full-service law firms. It had long had a Diversity and Inclusion Committee and in 2016 it became the first Canadian law firm to appoint a National Director.
The firm created the full-time dedicated position to give diversity and inclusion the attention it deserves, explains Moshiri. "There's a genuine commitment to diversity and inclusion at BLG," she adds. "Diversity is a core part of the firm's strategy for developing talent."
Since a first census in 2014, BLG has continued to update its demographic data to monitor its efforts at attracting and developing people of different ethnicities, cultures, genders, orientations, abilities and backgrounds. BLG also supports various organizations, including student and community groups that work to increase the numbers of those traditionally under-represented in the legal profession.
Creating an inclusive workplace involves continuous efforts to raise awareness, Moshiri says. To that end, the firm offers training and education through seminars, regular bulletins and intranet resources on topics ranging from how to appropriately support a co-worker in transition to understanding unconscious bias. As well, BLG hosts a variety of social events where everyone comes together to celebrate the diversity of firm members. Senior leadership demonstrates the importance of inclusion by participating in these and other events, Moshiri notes.
BLG anticipates the needs of a diverse workforce and seeks opportunities to ensure that current and potential firm members feel included at work, Moshiri says. This proactive approach has resulted in many initiatives including the creation of reflection rooms to allow firm members to practice their faith at work, all-gender washrooms and a Transgender Inclusivity and Accommodation Policy.
Moshiri pays particular attention to the wording of policies and documents. This includes everything from removing gendered references to suitable work attire to referencing "all genders" in communications instead of men and women. Says Moshiri: "Language really matters."
Dalrymple agrees. His open letter included a passage about how important pronouns are to transgender people. He asked his co-workers to refer to him using he, him and his and Dalrymple says they've been mindful of that ever since. "It may seem like a small change, but to me it's about acceptance and respect."