The Power of Perspectives

The Canadian Bar Association

Yves Faguy

Legal marketplace

Deloitte's growing presence in the Canadian legal marketplace

By Yves Faguy March 14, 2016 14 March 2016

Last week we reported on Deloitte’s recent partnership with Kira Systems.  Today we find out that it has acquired Conduit Law:

The newly formed Deloitte Conduit Law LLP will offer outsourced lawyers to support in-house legal teams, meet business needs on-demand at law firms, and deliver short-term projects or special engagements.

It’s pretty safe to say that this is a major development in the Canadian legal space. It's also telling that Deloitte is making inroads by partnering with some rather innovative players in that space, including Kira systems and Shelby Austin, founder of ATD Legal Services, which she sold a whilke back to Deloitte Canada under the banner of Legal Practice Solutions.  As for Conduit Law, the outfit has always prided itself on taking a client-centric approach, offering value-based billing and avoiding the billable hour business model. What's more, the firm has cut back on overhead by having most of its lawyers work out of their clients’ offices.

Also worth noting is that the Deloitte-Conduit Law deal comes on the heels of Axiom's acquistion of Cognition LLP, another champion of value-based billing. Traditional law firms take note.

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The race against climate change

By Yves Faguy March 10, 2016 10 March 2016

The race against climate change


As 2015 drew to a close, climate activist Bill McKibben compared the climate agreement reached in Paris to an overweight groom-to-be promising to “drop three suit sizes” in time for his wedding date a month away.

No doubt, when it comes to saving the planet, time is of the essence. Blowing past deadlines is hardly a palatable option for any of the 195 states that signed on to a new global governance structure for climate action – one designed to fulfill a promise to keep global temperatures under the warming limit of two degrees Celsius over preindustrial levels by the year 2100.

Leave aside all concerns that it’s far from certain that meeting that goal will spare us from the inferno. Assuming it will be good enough, the question for now is can anyone enforce those promises?

To meet the agreement’s stated goals, a recent study published by the scientific journal Nature reckons the global community will have to leave 80 per cent of global coal, 50 per cent of natural gas and 33 per cent of oil reserves in the ground for at least 25 years. 

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Gowling WLG's strategy for growth

By Yves Faguy March 10, 2016 10 March 2016

Gowling WLG's strategy for growth


Peter Lukasiewicz, recently named CEO of Gowling WLG Canada, speaks to Yves Faguy about how the merger with UK firm Wragge Lawrence Graham & Co came about, plans for future growth, and the state of the Canadian legal marketplace

CBA National: Does the merger with Wragge Lawrence Graham & Co mark a change in Gowlings’ strategy in growing its presence internationally?

Peter Lukasiewicz: Our strategy as a firm, from the late nineties, was to build a pan-Canadian, international Canadian law firm. Roughly 18 months ago, as part of our strategic planning, we began to debate the question amongst the partnership. “Do we want to grow internationally? And if so, how do we want to grow?” What came out of that process was, one: “Yes, we, as a firm, will grow internationally.” That was very firmly and forcefully put. Number two: We want to grow internationally on our own terms. We didn’t want to pursue international growth by being acquired by another already existing international law firm and become its outpost in Canada. We wanted to grow by teaming up with another partner who was much like us, who shared our culture, our values, our strategy, our approach to the practice of law. Thirdly, we would not grow in the United States.

N: Why not?

PL: A significant amount of our business comes from the United States. And when we looked at our business, two things came from that examination.

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CBA Legal Futures

Aron Solomon on the growth of legal tech in Canada

By Yves Faguy March 9, 2016 9 March 2016

Aron Solomon on the growth of legal tech in Canada

It’s been only eight months since the MaRS Discovery District launched its LegalX industry cluster led by Aron Solomon. In that time two major national firms – Blakes and McCarthy T├ętrault – as well as Thomson Reuters have signed sponsorship agreements. The CBA is also partnering with LegalX to launch an event at the CBA’s legal conference this summer in Ottawa. CBA National caught up with Solomon to get his insight into the state of legal innovation in Canada.

CBA National: How serious are the firms and organizations you’re partnering with about legal tech?

Aron Solomon: I think we’ve spoken with every large firm in Canada about being partners in LegalX and we heard a huge range of things — and some of them weren’t great. But we set out to work with two firms — Blakes and McCarthy — and what we’ve seen internally has been really positive. They’re big powerful firms, right? but they really are embracing innovation in a very concrete way. They’re willing to try new things; they’re willing to do things with us; they’re willing to talk to start-ups.

 N:  What have you seen come out of it?

AS: If you look at a big law firm in Toronto, its problems really aren’t unique to that firm. It’s a problem that’s probably shared with a big law firm in Silicon Valley and London and Dubai. So the firms here understand this and they’re willing to be open about solutions.

N: Take me through the lifecycle process of how an idea is generated in LegalX and makes its way to implementation inside a law firm?

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Legal marketplace

Axiom comes to Canada

By Yves Faguy January 15, 2016 15 January 2016

News this week that Axiom is expanding into Canada by acquiring Cognition LLP’s general counsel practice should come as no surprise to anyone who has followed the trajectory of these two alternative legal service providers.

According to Cognition LLP co-founder Joe Milstone (pictured above), both firms from their inception have shared the same mission to rid the legal marketplace of inefficiencies.  “We joke that it’s like we were separated at birth 10 years ago.”

Over the years, Axiom and Cognition have come to know each other well, having regularly referred clients to one another. 

For Axiom, having expanded its business into other markets – namely the UK and Asia – it was a matter of time before it would set up shop in Canada. With 50 lawyers mostly based in Toronto (5 in Calgary), Cognition was the ideal fit.

 “Joe and [Cognition co-founder Rubsun Ho] have pioneered this concept in Canada,” says Will McKinnon, Axiom’s senior vice president of new market development. “They did a lot of the hard work for us.”

McKinnon further adds that the Canadian legal marketplace is ripe for the type of disruption that outfits like Axiom aim to achieve.  “Canadian companies are more progressive than many other international markets,” he says.

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