Recognized as one of National Capital Region's Top Employers (2019):
By Richard Yerema and Kristina Leung, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Jan 29, 2019)
Here are some of the reasons why Smart & Biggar was selected as one of National Capital Region's Top Employers (2019):
- Smart & Biggar/Fetherstonhaugh offers referral bonuses as an incentive for employees to recruit candidates from their personal networks, ranging from $1,000 to $2,000 for successful hires
- Smart & Biggar/Fetherstonhaugh provides maternity and parental leave top-up payments to new mothers and adoptive parents (to 100% of salary for up to 12 weeks) as well as a small top-up for fathers (up to 4 weeks)
- As part of the firm's health benefits plan, Smart & Biggar/Fetherstonhaugh offers an amount of $400 annually which can be put towards a health or wellness spending account
Recognized as one of Canada's Top Small & Medium Employers (2019):
By Richard Yerema and Kristina Leung, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Apr 11, 2019)
Here are some of the reasons why Smart & Biggar was selected as one of Canada's Top Small & Medium Employers (2019):
- Smart & Biggar/Fetherstonhaugh organizes a number of social events and celebrations for employees throughout the year, including holiday parties, summer family barbecues, a pumpkin carving contest at Halloween, an annual hockey tournament in the winter and dragon boat races in the summer
- Smart & Biggar/Fetherstonhaugh's head office is located in downtown Ottawa, providing employees numerous transportation options including transit subsidies, a carpool sign-up system, secure bicycle parking, EV parking spots and even workstations for telecommuters
Smart & Biggar thrives on diversity and growth culture
When she was in law school, Jyoti Chakraborty was interested in the intellectual property domain, but to work in this field lawyers typically had either a science background or a master's degree in IP law. But when she saw an opening at Smart & Biggar for a junior position in IP with neither academic requirement, she hoped she'd found her way in.
"The moment I walked through the door and had my first meeting, I quickly realized they weren't looking for people with the cookie-cutter, standard old-school IP profile. They were actually looking for people from a diverse background and with business savvy and experience," says Chakraborty, who is an IP Lawyer in the firm's Montreal office. "In my experience, the firm has evolved to meet the business needs of clients today."
In fact, Smart & Biggar has been going through some changes over the past few years, first by bringing in a professional management team to help run the business. Areas such as HR, IT, finance, and clients and markets, which were traditionally looked after by partners, were turned over to professionals in those fields.
"The partnership decided we wanted to operate more like a modern business and not rest on their laurels," says Chief Talent Offer Paul Horton, "because the IP landscape is changing and we want to get ahead of it."
At the same time, the organization has sharpened its focus on things that are important to the people who work there. One change is that every employee has a coach - a partner or senior person - working with them to help them achieve personal and professional success. "We have lawyers and agents who are at the top of their field, we have a really impressive list of clients, so why would we not also have a talent experience that's world class?" says Horton. "It's about creating a culture where highly skilled people are challenged and feel rewarded and can build a career and a life."
To that end, senior management has been holding regular candid conversations with staff members to understand what inspires and motivates them, and what success means to them. Twice a year, staff take a pulse survey, which gives leadership a sense of what's important to employees, and senior leaders also hold town halls in Smart & Biggar offices across the country.
"This is big shift in our firm and in this industry, as transparency is not a traditional characteristic of the legal industry," says Horton. "We're trying to get away from the way it always used to be and build a different talent experience here."
For Jennifer Higgins, a Team Coordinator/Patent Legal Assistant, the environment at Smart & Biggar is a comfortable, supportive one, despite the intensity of the work. There are many ways in which team members are able to come together. "The firm takes the time to celebrate our victories and also recognizes all of the hard work behind every success," she says.
And there is always encouragement to do more. "Even the busiest person in the firm will take the time to answer your questions," says Higgins, "to help guide you if you express a desire to learn more or do more."
That endless growth potential is one of the real benefits of working at Smart & Biggar for Chakraborty. "There's a lot of diversity in the files, mandates and levels of complexity in our work that allows us to infinitely grow," she says. "As a young associate, I see Smart & Biggar as somewhere I can grow for a long time. I feel like you'll never reach a place where you turn back and say, 'I've learned everything I can learn here now.' "