Recognized as one of Canada's Top Small & Medium Employers
By Richard Yerema and Kristina Leung, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Apr 12, 2018)
Here are some of the reasons why McLeod Law LLP was selected as one of Canada's Top Small & Medium Employers (2018):
- McLeod Law LLP starts most employees with 3 weeks of paid vacation while new associates start with 4 weeks, and offers all employees additional time off over the Christmas holiday season
- Varying by position, McLeod Law LLP helps employees balance their work and personal lives through a variety of alternative work options, including flexible hours, telecommuting and earned days off programs -- and offers all employees 1 paid day to volunteer in the community
- McLeod Law LLP hosts Friday breakfasts in the lounge complete with pastries, donuts, scones and fresh fruit
Innovation has helped McLeod Law become a 'virtual firm'
One thing you don't hear too often is someone who works at a law firm appreciating the work-life balance they've achieved. Lawyers and their staff are famous for long hours and punishing workloads. But Debbie Egan, a Legal Assistant, has worked at Calgary-based McLeod Law for the better part of 20 years and two children, and the support she's received through all life's events and challenges is what's kept her coming back.
"We're all under the same stresses and we have things going on in our personal lives as well as our work lives," says Egan. "They really appreciate and support the staff, not only for the dedication to our jobs but on a personal level as well."
Since its founding more than 35 years ago, the mid-sized law firm has undergone massive changes, thanks, in part, to a couple of strategic plans. Michael Kwiatkowski has been with McLeod Law since his articling year, in 2007. There are six practice areas within the firm, so there's not only lots of diversity but also a great deal of internal business generation between lawyers. "We're a full-service shop," says Kwiatkowski, a Partner at the firm and member of firm's Executive Committee. "We can handle anything for any client, except for tax and criminal."
McLeod is unique in that it has two offices -- one in downtown Calgary and another, larger one in the south end of the city. Each office serves different clients and attracts staff and lawyers with different needs. The south office, for example, is in the middle of bedroom communities. "My assistant can wait for the bus with her son and 10 minutes later she's at work, as opposed to commuting downtown," Kwiatkowski explains. "The guys downtown live in condos and walk to work. It serves a dual purpose -- both to clients, and staff and lawyers."
In both offices, though, McLeod Law has lately undergone a "huge revolution," Kwiatkowski says. "We've been very innovative, particularly in the past five years -- everything from having technology in the boardrooms to telephone systems that dictate messages right to your iPhone." The changes have meant that most work can be done from anywhere. By becoming a "virtual firm," as he calls it, "we have come a long way to increase production and it's also increased client satisfaction, which is on the top of our priority list."
Indeed, at a time when some in the legal industry are feeling the pinch because of easier access to justice for the non-legal professional, client satisfaction is more important than ever. "It's a very competitive environment," says Kwiatkowski, "and if you don't change, if you don't adapt, firms will either die or shrink to the point where they'll get swallowed up by another firm."
But McLeod couldn't be doing better. "We're on a total upward curve," he adds. "Our employees appear to be happy, our lawyers are happy, our retention is good."
The staff's dedication and hard work is rewarded with great compensation and perks, according to Egan, from the benefit plan, personal leave days and flexible work hours, to the Friday breakfasts and the RSP matching for the staff. There's also an Idea Forum, through which employees' ideas or concerns are sent to a designated lawyer, who will respond within 48 hours.
"We understand that staff are the vital engine to this law firm and to the clients," says Kwiatkowski. "We want to make them feel this is not just a workplace; they spend a lot of their time here, their input is valuable and listened to."