HONEST. OPEN-MINDED. COMMUNICATIVE. FORWARD-THINKING.
What kind of person is being described here? Your sister, your best friend or your mother?
Surely, not your lawyer. Right? People can sometimes have a negative impression of lawyers – one that isn’t exactly fair. But how has that impression been generated in the first place? By those who’ve had negative experiences navigating the law or working with a lawyer. The law is something not just anyone can practise; you usually need a lawyer to explain your legal situation to you in a way you understand, and to represent your interests in court if you want the best chance at a favorable outcome. When that doesn’t happen, it’s easy to feel confused and upset, and even easier to tell your friends about your negative experience.
While everyone else is opening their doors – and their minds – to their clients to improve communication and increase trust, not all law firms are doing that. These days, you can have a direct conversation with your favourite celebrity over Twitter, pay your bills from your phone and close the deal on your next big vacation via text message. When you want information or an Uber or a pizza, you want it now and for the very best price. Not to mention, you know exactly what you’re paying for in each of these scenarios.
The law isn’t always practised like this. Communication can still be somewhat difficult and a bit awkward. For most people, it is really intimidating to speak to a lawyer.
What if there was a law firm that recognized the gaping divide between the way law has been practiced and the way other industries are moving forward? What if there were lawyers who spoke a different language but cared enough to teach their clients to speak it too? What if you could have a meeting with your lawyer over a cup of coffee at a shop in your neighbourhood, surrounded by your community rather than by wood and books and intimidation? What if you knew exactly what fees would be on your lawyer’s bill and why you’re being asked to pay them? If it sounds too good to be true, it isn’t.
Welcome to Siskinds LLP.
MOVING LAW FORWARD
Changing habits that are so deeply ingrained is difficult for an individual, let alone an entire business or industry. The opportunity to be more open and, in doing so, to change the way the law is practised is not something that’s easy to embrace. The lawyers at Siskinds will be the first to tell you that. But they’ll also be the first to tell you that making this change is worth it – because when clients see that their lawyer is working with them as a partner, not as an authority figure, the level of trust between lawyer and client skyrockets. And if you can’t trust your lawyer in your time of need, who can you trust?
Linda Sanders, marketing manager for Siskinds in their London, Ontario office, describes some of the values Siskinds focuses on when hiring associates into the firm. “A huge one for us is integrity, and understanding that there’s a clear need for honesty and morality in law. Being pragmatic matters too, because it means you’re thorough and sensible and that you can see all options in order to get the best outcome. And then there’s collegiality: understanding we’re all on the same team.”
Associates with these attributes are being drawn to Siskinds because of the approachable, open, down-to-earth way in which they – and clients – are welcomed into the firm. At Siskinds, clients work directly with their lawyers and are involved in the work being done as much as possible, a unique approach but one that Siskinds finds value in doing.
The business services division is no exception. Made up of over thirty lawyers, this diverse department has nine associates who are excited to be practicing their chosen profession in a way that’s modern, effective and in line with their own values. (Michael Polvere, an associate on the commercial litigation team, couldn’t attend the photoshoot due to a trial.)
Christopher Sinal is an associate practising labour and employment law. “Our whole practice is about working with our clients as part of their business team,” says Sinal. “Each of us has unique skills and strengths, and we’re not afraid to make sure the best lawyer for any particular case is working with that client in order to achieve the best possible outcome for them. Everyone – lawyers and clients – gets to work together as a team in order to get what needs doing, done.”
Andrew MacIver practises franchise law as an associate with Siskinds. “We take the time to learn and understand each client’s business so that we’re able to provide them with the best legal solutions and advice possible. We maintain an open, collaborative relationship with our clients, keeping them informed and involved throughout every stage so they’re comfortable with the service they’re receiving from us and so that we are aware of any developing needs or challenges that come up for them over the course of our work together.”
THE FUTURE OF LAW AT SISKINDS
As one of the largest law firms in Southwestern Ontario, Siskinds is poised to become a leader in changing the way law is practiced throughout not only the province but also the country. With offices in London and Toronto and affiliate offices in Montreal and Quebec City, Siskinds has deep roots in most areas of the law, including commercial real estate and litigation, environmental law, insurance defence, municipal law and others already mentioned. But even though they’re working to bring on bright, forward-thinking associates to build the next generation of lawyers, they know it will take time.
“It’s a gradual change,” says Linda Sanders. “We’re bringing in people who believe in what we’re doing. The associates who are with us now are the ones who will really live this change.”
“At the risk of sounding bold,” says business law associate Adnan Chahbar, “we have some of the strongest and most capable minds in the field. Our lawyers really care about our clients and, most importantly, the outcomes that we help them achieve.”
The team at Siskinds has recognized that their industry needs to evolve alongside its clients. As time and trends move forward, so should the approach a lawyer takes when serving their client. Siskinds wants to work with their clients to foster strong relationships, smart ideas, and constant collaboration to the point of practicing law in a way that makes sense for today. No more big mahogany desks or feeling intimidated. Siskinds is creating a new language of the law, and is inviting you to learn it along
Siskinds LLP. Modern law for the 21st century.
Photographed at Locomotive Espresso, operated by Charles Wright, Partner, Siskinds LLP
Written by Jess Campbell