I've been getting some email asking why the blogging has been so light. Well, now I can explain.
After 17 wonderful years practicing labour and employment law with one of Canada's largest national law firms, I have decided to take my career in a different direction and have resigned as a partner with the firm effective December 31, 2009 in order to start my own labour and employment law boutique called Watershed LLP with my good friend and now partner Steve Mendelssohn.
This was, as you'd expect, a pretty tough decision. I have worked with some great lawyers at my old firm and have made some great friends there over the years and I will miss our daily dealings greatly. Sometimes, though, an opportunity presents itself that hits home with such force that you simply have to pursue it. The opportunity to found something that was my own and on which I could directly put my mark was simply too much to pass up.For a long time I have seen that the practice of law and the way in which legal services were delivered was at a fork-in-the road. The recession sped things along, but even before that the signs were there that change was coming. Steve and I have talked about this for some time and decided that we can either keep talking about it or do something.
Steve is, of course, a lawyer, but more than that, he's a lawyer with 20 years of business experience working at a senior level as a labour and HR practitioner in some of Canada's largest companies and, more recently, as the president of an HR consulting firm. His experience is quite unique among lawyers and Watershed's "Two Lenses One Focus" approach is what we strive to bring to every project. Steve knows first hand what it means to be "the client" and understands the issues that a client faces when engaging outside counsel. That allows Watershed to offer something that is unique in terms of services and delivery.
We're also joining a growing list of lawyers and law firms including employment lawyer Jay Shepherd (Shepherd Law Group) and Patrick Lamb (Valorem Law Group) and with a nod to the vision of my friend Jordan Furlong that are moving away from hourly-billing in favour of more innovative approaches built on transparency and predictability. We firmly believe that billing by the hour is not sustainable (for lawyers or clients) and that law firms will have to change, whether or not they want to. We're not alone in holding this view or in wanting to change things. These "alternate" (Jay calls it "open" which I like) pricing models force efficiency onto the lawyers, which is not a bad thing.
Some clients are currently comfortable with and have become accustomed to hourly based billing. We get that and we can accommodate those situations in our model though will be discussing with our clients options that bring efficiencies to our relationships.
Law is a conservative profession and change does not come easily or quickly despite the fact that the writing has been on the wall for a while. Have a read of Jordan's award-winning blog Law21 and his posts including, among others, Ready or not here come the clients where he suggests that "we’re entering the Decade of the Client". That's a great thing so far as I'm concerned.
To say that I'm excited about this new venture would be an understatement. So stay tuned as I’ll be posting more about the goings on at Watershed LLP and, of course, about labour and employment law.