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We've Grown Again
Author: 
Philippe Richer
April 26, 2021
Philippe Richer, Principal Lawyer, siting at his desk in the St. Boniface TLR Law location.

It’s been too long since we’ve written in the TLR Law blog! We’ve been busy with new projects and my regular updates have taken a back seat, even though I love writing them and they are always on my to-do list.

However, I’ve been sidetracked the past few months. But now with a break from some pressing tasks, I want to focus on other important priorities, which include this blog. 

I’ve noticed something in writing these blog posts: people really do like personal and honest stories. While writing about legal issues is interesting and important, personal stories always seem to get more feedback.  So I thought I would get started and tell you what we’ve been up to.

In July 2020, after the first wave of the pandemic and when the number of infections in Manitoba were low (remember when we went 13 days without a single new infection?), I decided to write to lawyers whom I thought were approaching retirement age. An Important, but not urgent task.

I was looking past the pandemic and thinking this could be an opportunity to grow the practice. I theorized the pandemic would make those thinking about retirement more motivated to retire.  

One thing led to the next and we opened our first new location on Pembina Highway last November. And We just finished acquiring a third practice effective Feb. 15, 2021.  

Before you congratulate me on expanding the business, you should know  I’m experiencing a considerable amount of stress right now (we can all relate to stress right now, there’s so much of it going around). While I’m excited about the expansion, expanding comes with its own problems. We are short-staffed (more on this below), and are trying to figure out how to manage multiple locations without creating a lot of duplication and redundancy.

In addition, the leases in the new locations are due within the next 12 months. Both locations need serious upgrading. I need to decide in the next 30 to 60 days if I will stay and start planning renovations or if I want to move. I practice law, not real estate development. This is a whole new ball game.

Up until now, I’ve focused my energy on opening the new locations, determining staffing needs, and finding new talent to help us navigate this rapid growth. At the beginning of January, I sat down with Robyn, our office manager, and mapped out the year. We needed, at minimum, to hire three new staff.  But to fill one gap, we promoted Kat, our receptionist extraordinaire in St. Boniface to legal assistant (congrats, Kat!). She will be helping Michelle with our corporate and estate files.

With Kat’s promotion, we needed to find someone to replace her at reception in St. Boniface. We also had to find a receptionist for the new location at Sargent and Wall.  While I acquired the name “Estate Attorneys of Manitoba” and assumed the lease, I did not retain any of the staff.  After opening the Sargent location, Patrick, one of our lawyers, and I answered phones, made copies, greeted clients, cleaned bathrooms, and practiced law. It was chaotic, to say the least.  Kaitlin finally started with us in late March, although we haven’t figured out who will clean the bathrooms yet. So it looks like that stays on my plate for now.

Finally, we needed another lawyer. After many interviews and a lot of conversations at home, my spouse, Cheryl Pearson, decided to join our firm. She is an experienced corporate commercial, real estate, and estate lawyer. We realized we needed depth on our bench, and Cheryl brings that in droves. Smart and beautiful (I can say that because she lets me as her spouse), she rounds out our team. 

As I’m writing this, the new staff have either started or are about to start.  The crunch is still very palpable. It will likely take 30-60 days before we start feeling the effects of new staff. I have always maintained it takes about six months for junior staff and about one year for senior staff to find their grove. But the end is in sight and I am feeling quite relieved.

Now, I need to start focusing on our office space(s).  While the challenges are exhilarating and fun,  I find some relief from the stress (or maybe hope) in repeating the mantra: “You can’t grow in your comfort zone”. I have been out of my comfort zone for at least six months now. Am I growing?

Time will tell. 

Meanwhile, we are excited to have the new staff and office to work with. Our team is doing a great job adapting and providing solutions to new, and seemingly endless, problems. Everyone has stepped up to the plate and committed themselves completely to the expansion. I consider myself lucky to be surrounded by such great people.

In our weekly meeting via Microsoft Teams, the entire team spent the first 10 minutes recognizing the efforts of individuals. These shout outs come from management, but more importantly, from staff directed to other staff members. Our team feels recognized and empowered to play their vital part in this venture of ours. It’s been very exciting. 

Finally, I would like to thank you for joining us on our adventure. It’s thanks to our clients and those who work closely with us to service their clients that we succeed.  Every referral is a vote of confidence in our team.