Recognized as one of Greater Toronto's Top Employers
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."