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February, 2018
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February, 2018 | Presidents Message

President's Message

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Michelle Medel
Author Michelle Medel

Hello fellow TLOMA members!

And just where did January go?! I blinked and suddenly find myself in February! I’m not sure about you, but time seems to be ticking away at a torrid pace. Hopefully things will slow down – even just a smidge.

Of course, this pace could have something to do with that disturbing word…BUDGET. Thankfully, I see a light at the end of the tunnel and it’s not a train! Hopefully most of you have settled into the New Year, completed your budgets, partner compensation meetings, and have your staff and associate evaluations underway (or maybe even completed). Catch a breath and look ahead to the Compensation/Benefits survey, technology/accounting roll outs, rents, policy changes, staff appreciation plans and a host of new projects.

This list came into my mind as I reviewed my own “Year at a Glance” calendar. I have never quite been able to understand how some people work without lists - whether it be paper, post it notes, electronic or even scrawled on the back of one’s hand! (Not professional, but working on the basis that your hand goes everywhere with you). All kidding aside, ‘to-do' lists do really work, provided they become 'done’. The danger of failing to actively work your to-do list is that the list of tasks simply grows longer and longer – and with it, a sense of panic develops. As I am writing this, I notice a quote pinned by my computer, “Paper is to write things down that we need to remember. Our brains are used to think.” - Albert Einstein. It speaks to the fact that most of us like talking about doing things, but to actually make them happen requires action. I can't help but think that there has to be a better way to tackle our to-do lists. So here are some tips:

Break projects down into bite-sized chunks - doing so makes the component parts manageable and less intimidating.   

Do what you like least first - we all have tasks we don't necessarily enjoy.  Doing those first provides a sense of accomplishment and relief.

The 'to-done' list - Even time management gurus can be thrown off course by unexpected items being added to their task list. Sometimes, we also underestimate the time required to complete a task. The net result? Items added unexpectedly and those requiring more time get pushed ahead adding to our stress. The secret here is to create a 'to done' list, alongside your to-do. This is a round-up of all those things you have achieved in a day – think of it as a progress report. When something on your to-do list is interrupted by an unexpected task, write it down. That way, you'll be able to see - in a concrete way - all that you have managed to achieve in a day, even if it wasn't the list of things you started out with. What's more, you can get creative. Use Outlook or an app (Wunderlist, lets you scroll through hundreds of seriously satisfying 'ticked-off' items and can change your working life) or celebrate your 'to done' list with doodles or - my favorite - quotes.

So back to the list….if you are still in budget mode and working on your staff or Associate Compensation, hopefully you took part and have handy the 2017 Compensation and Associate Compensation Surveys.  One of the many advantages of being a member of TLOMA is the ability to participate in the annual Compensation Surveys. The Compensation surveys have been established as the primary source of compensation bench-marking information for the Canadian legal community. If you’ve never participated in a TLOMA Compensation Survey, make 2018 your year to start. It’s a confidential, secure and efficient way for your firm to receive and use this valuable data. The Compensation Committee does a fantastic job with the survey. In fact, this is probably the perfect time to thank them for all of their hard work in 2017 as they gear up for 2018!

Salary Survey Committee 2017

Less than 20
Katharine Bocking                           Scargall Owen-King LLP 

50 to 99
Titi Akinsanya                                   Mills & Mills LLP
Debbie Cymbron                              Beard Winter LLP
Bernice Durdin                                 Baker & McKenzie LLP
Simone MacIsaac                            Torkin Manes LLP
Katherine Mather (Vice Chair)         Koskie Minsky LLP
Alex Overchuk (Associates)             WeirFoulds LLP
Barbara Russell (Chair)                   Lenczner Slaght  

Cheryl Brass (Vice Chair)                Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP
Michelle Medel (Associates)            Lerners LLP
Sandra Peres                                   Bennett Jones SLP

Katherine Mather is the 2018 Compensation Committee Chair.

In building the Compensation Committee for 2018, we had some outgoing members from 2017.  This resulted in there being a few openings on the committee of which we were seeking volunteers.  We are pleased to advise that we have filled almost all of the openings. The remaining 2 seats on the committee are to represent the Associate population. So, if you have compensation and/or benefits experience and would like join the Committee in one of these roles, we would LOVE to hear from you!

Now, what else is on my list for this month’s newsletter…

We would like to thank everyone who participated in the Education Events Planning Survey; 49 members completed the survey. As your feedback is crucial in helping us arrange educational sessions you are interested in, we encourage more members to complete these types of surveys in the future.

This recent survey indicates the top five topics of interest for each of the areas of discipline are:

Human Resources

  • Changes/Trends in the Legal Industry  
  • Coaching, Mentoring and Employee Development
  • Employment Law - Specific Changes
    Difficult Conversations - How to Have Them
  • Work-Life Balance 


  • Changes to Social Media
  • Measuring ROI on Marketing Activities
  • Networking
  • Branding


  • Preparing a Project Request Proposal  


  • Collections - Best Practices
  • What Information do Partners really need
  • Budgeting
  • Latest Updates in Tax Changes for Law Firms
  • Compensation Systems for Partners


  • Support for Disaster Recovery
  • Cutting Overhead Costs
  • Facilities Management
  • Occupational Health and Safety
  • Office Security


  • Trends Reshaping the Legal Industry
  • Paperless Office
  • Cloud Computing for Law Firms
  • Digital Law Firms
  • IT Management

Our SIG Leaders will do their best to cover some, if not all, of these topics over the next year or two, keeping in mind we have members from both small and large firms attending the sessions, so we try to choose topics that would be of interest to everyone.

In 2018, we will also be holding “Panel/Roundtable Discussions” for each of the areas of discipline, with specific dates to follow. We will be seeking volunteers to sit on these panels so please answer the call and share your knowledge with your colleagues!

I encourage everyone to make the most of everything TLOMA has to offer (volunteer, come out and meet your colleagues at a SIG or Networking event) and remember any questions you may have can be directed to Liz Barrington, Karen Gerhardt or myself.

More Medel Musings in March. Have a fantastic February!

Michelle Medel is the Chief Human Resources Officer for Lerners LLP.   In this role, Michelle directs all Human Resources functions with respect to the Professionals and Legal Support Staff for the Firm.  She is also responsible for the Toronto Associate/Student Programs.  This includes developing, implementing and managing the recruitment, orientation, training and professional development of the firm’s Associates and Students.  She also provides strategic leadership by articulating Human Resource needs and plans to the Executive Management Team and Partnership. 
February, 2018 | Article

Insights on “Black on Bay Street”

AnneMarieShrouder_Black on Bay Street_Feb 2018
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Shrouder, Annemarie
Author Annemarie Shrouder

Hadiya Roderique’s article “Black on Bay Street” in the Globe and Mail last November laid bare her experience as a law student looking for work, and as a lawyer once she was hired.  As a Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) consultant and a woman of colour, I am well familiar with her experience – but her arguments (and why these things occur) are not obvious or familiar to everyone. In the next few paragraphs, I will shed light on some of her points and provide some D&I context. You can read her full article here

Success isn’t about merit

Hadiya writes that “success isn’t necessarily about merit. It’s also about fitting in.”  It’s difficult to see this when you’re part of a dominant group (in this case, white) – because you do fit. But the fact is that “fit” gives you access where others experience a barrier to entry. When you fit, the criteria for “fit” aren’t haunting you, tripping you up at every turn, creeping up on you to steal opportunity. As a consequence, you can focus on your work, or on getting hired.  

Lack of fit becomes a barrier to being seen for what you have to offer. And in the case of Black people and people of colour, the visible (and obvious) nature of our diversity means that barrier is often immediate. This reality is based on years of systemic racism that has influenced how people of colour and Black people are seen and valued. This process applies to other marginalized groups as well. Consider Hadiya’s experience of speaking to a male partner of a firm at a cocktail party as part of the interview process. She was standing with two white men, and was completely passed over in the conversation and questioning, as if she wasn’t there. In this man’s mind, she wasn’t lawyer material, and therefore not worth talking to. He would deny this if you asked. Not just because it’s not politically correct, but also because it likely isn’t conscious.

If success was about merit, we would already see more diversity in the legal profession (and other professions).

Company Culture

Every environment has a culture. You feel it once you’re there and learn about it either because of the things you do or say that fit or because of the things you do or stay that don’t fit. Culture also includes what people look like – from clothing, to body type, to skin colour. We write down company values, and our vision and mission, but culture is the unspoken ways of being that we embody or fall into. And if we don’t, then we usually aren’t there long. Culture is part of what defines and determines “fit.”

Another thing that weaves into fit and culture is what people have in common. Hadiya references homophily as the tendency to gravitate towards people who are like us. Banaji and Greenwald in their book Blind Spot assert that people lean towards others even when they think they have something in common with them. When you consider this, plus the fact that we see what we know or want to see (and that this is influenced by unconscious bias) you can begin to understand the problems inherent in determining who fits into a firm’s culture.


This brings us to hiring – which, as Hadiya points out, is a flawed process. Again, if you are a member of a dominant group, this may be hard to see. But if sameness = comfort and fit, if we lean into people we even think we have something in common with, if a company’s culture is unspoken and created by the people who are in power and sustained by everyone else who “fits,” then it stands to reason that the interview process as-is, will ensure that those that are hired are more of the same.

Hadiya points out that less subjectivity - including objective metrics of qualification and standard questions - would be a good step towards change. This makes sense. First, however, we need to recognize the flaws in the current system. The challenge is that if it’s working for you, it’s difficult to see the problems.

Mitigating bias in who comes in the door is also crucial to hiring – as my colleague Shadi Ghani ( pointed out at our TLOMA presentation. In addition to making the interview process more equitable, you want to widen the pool of candidates that are interviewed. Mitigating bias also includes being aware of how you see (or don’t see) candidates when they arrive. The reality is that even before the interview, there are many candidates that a firm may not consider, just because they don’t look or feel the part. Mitigating bias in the hiring process – from advertising, to recruitment to interviewing – is one crucial step in increasing diversity.

Diversity does not equal Inclusion

Diversity alone doesn’t give you much advantage if people are feeling like they have to change who they are to fit in. Hadiya shared many examples of not feeling like she belonged, not being seen for who she is and being treated differently. She also mentioned that “fit” became harder the higher you climb on the ladder. The benefits of diversity can be many, including access to new markets and improved client experience. However, the benefits of diversity come with inclusion: when we create an environment that actually values difference. In an inclusive environment we leverage that difference to grow, innovate, and provide better service. Diversity alone does not give us benefits beyond numbers and aesthetic.And often, without an inclusive environment, the people who represent diversity do not stay. Hadiya didn’t.

Next month, I’ll explore how we get to inclusion.

Annemarie Shrouder is an international speaker, corporate trainer, and consultant.

She is committed to fairness, belonging and being a little goofy. To that end, Annemarie believes in playing fair in the sandbox and that everyone should have a place at the table – not just a seat, a place, which implies that we are valuable and valued. She is passionate about challenging people to “see more”, and assisting in the creation of organizational cultures where people can learn, be all of who they are, and can thrive. Past clients include KPMG, the Catholic Children’s Aid Society of Toronto, BMO and CBC. Annemarie works with diversity broadly, and specializes in LGBTQ inclusion and racial equity.

To learn more or to receive Annemarie’s weekly “Inclusion Insight’ via email on a weekly basis, please visit

Thrillworks Inc. - Interruption Ad.
TLOMA - Interruption Ad - Security - Identifying Suspicious Packages and People - February 13, 2018
February, 2018 | Article

The 7 Things Clients Really Want to Know Before They Hire a Lawyer

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Author Jana Schilder

“I don’t know you.

I don’t know your law firm.

I don’t know your law firm’s services.

I don’t know what your law firm stands for.

I don’t know your law firm’s clients.

I don’t know your law firm’s record.

I don’t know your law firm’s reputation.

Now, what was it you wanted to sell me?”*

Clients with a legal problem are in the market to hire a lawyer. They have an urgent need. With the help of Google searches, social media, practice specialty “best lists,” professional reviews and referrals from friends and family, prospects quickly form a short list.

Before spending hundreds and thousands of dollars on legal fees, the lawyer or law firm they hire will have a great story for each of these seven points. The lawyer or law firm will have made the “sale.”

Some of the questions about your law firm and your law firm’s services can be answered by providing useful, insightful and accurate information in plain English - not legalese - for your web visitors.

What is the offer to your prospects, whether they are businesses or individual Canadians with a legal problem? How can you help them? What is your unique selling proposition (USP)?

The answer to the question about what your law firm stands for - that’s a branding question. Branding is a way for prospects to easily remember your law firm as opposed to all others. Quality work and great service are NOT branding attributes; these days, they are a given.

Branding is a process of reduction, not addition: what is the ONE thing that you want your clients to remember about your law firm? It is incredibly difficult to land on the ONE thing, as opposed to all other attributes. The essence of a brand is: what is THE one thing, above all other qualities and attributes, you stand for? The principle behind branding simple: it is way to stand out from your competition.

The question about your law firm’s clients and your law firm’s record can also be dealt with on your website. Many B2B and B2C law firms have testimonials on their websites that attest to how effectively they deal with their clients’ problems. A favourable decision obtained for a client can also be turned into a blog post or a news release, frequently without names.

To a large degree, testimonials are not representative of all of a law firm’s clients - and you can always find a handful to say nice things about you - but a few testimonials are better than no testimonials.

Google reviews are better, meaning that law firm clients must write the reviews and post them as themselves; Google doesn’t allow anonymous Google Reviews.

In the real world of reviews, extremes are the red flags: too many negative reviews and your prospect says, “Not this lawyer!” At the other end, too many gushing reviews of the kind, “Walks on water and doesn’t leave footprints” are equally suspicious. Other hallmarks of fake reviews: bad grammar, strange syntax (probably from auto translation programs), and using the word “attorney” rather than “lawyer” for Canadian law firms. Putting a law firm’s reputation at risk by hiring a firm to produce fake Google Reviews is foolhardy. Plus, the Law Society of Upper Canada is cracking down on fake client reviews.

As officers of the court, lawyers should be particularly careful about trying to game the Google system to gain benefit of “Google juice” provided by Google Reviews for higher page rankings in Google search.

The law firm’s reputation rests with the professional discipline called public relations. Public relations has four goals: 1) to establish, 2) to promote, 3) to protect, and sometimes, 4) to salvage the reputation of a law firm. Public relations is not a sales tool; many lawyers mistakenly believe that it is. In other words, get interviewed and quoted and the phone will ring off the hook with clients. While that does happen, the reality is: it’s more complicated than that.

It is certainly true that public relations is more affordable than advertising;  it makes your dollars go farther. Lawyers who want to build a reputation are better off hiring a public relations professional rather than running Google Ads.

Public relations is a reputational tool and reputation cannot be bought - at any price. How do you build a reputation? By doing and saying important things. Standing up for what is right. Explaining things to prospects in English. Being helpful. A reputation must be earned the old-fashioned way: slow and steady.

Public relations is more Art than Science. Public relations professionals know a lot of producers, editors, and reporters. Most public relations professionals are pretty good writers. And they are good visually: they understand what makes a great photograph, video and what type of prop you should bring to a TV interview to make your point.

Most important of all, public relations professionals know how journalists think, and what is and isn’t a story. Good public relations people help lawyers and law firms figure out what their stories are and then they pitch them to the appropriate media.

Your reputation is what others say about you. Your reputation gets you referrals from others. Reputation is what makes reporters, editors and producers hunt you down for interviews. Reputation is what gets you invited to speak at conferences.

*These questions, with the original word “company” rather than “law firm” were the copy written for an ad created in 1958 by advertising executive Gilbert Morris of the Fuller, Smith & Ross advertising agency. The ad was for McGraw-Hill Publishing and made a compelling case that advertising is a precursor to sales. Some 41 years later, in 1999, was named the “Best Business-to-Business Ad of the 20th Century” by Advertising Age’s Business Marketing magazine. Here is the original ad

Jana Schilder is co-founder of The Legal A Team™ that provides marketing and branding strategy, business development training and coaching, public relations and media relations, as well as social media programs for lawyers and law firms. She can be reached at

TLOMA Interruption Ad - Spring Fling - March 22, 2018
February, 2018 | Article

Stop Writing Practice Descriptions

C. Black Article1
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P. Kuttner
Author Paul Kuttner & David Taylor

Why choose you?

Writing a Practice description is as easy as swimming across the Amazon River. Once you know how swim fast and can dodge little fish with really sharp teeth, you are almost home and dry. Almost. Same with writing a practice description – lots of little fish with really sharp teeth devouring blandness, pandering, buzz words and adjectives that will make your journey somewhat unrewarding.

The ‘What’s–In-It-For-Me?’ Quotient Is About Zero

So many law firm web sites, large firms and small, squander critical opportunities to connect with potential new clients. Why? Because their descriptives appear hard to read, they are usually generic and interchangeable with many other firms, they deliver an abundance of useless information and they are functionally firm-centered.  The ‘what’s–in-it-for-me?’ quotient registers almost zero. Somewhere in the law firm someone forgot that the visitor is searching for a solution to their own unique problem.  

I Want It Now!

Sitting in front of a monitor, the reader scans stuff. They have little patience for long drawn out narrative. They want the facts. They want an easy read. They want to feel that what is said is relevant to them. They want you to respect their time. Don’t tell them what they need, tell them what you have done that may be relevant to their current search.

So, here are a few basic thoughts for your consideration on how to avoid the little fish with really sharp teeth.

Know Your Target - Get Into The Buyer’s Head

The challenge is to overcome the ‘Three Deadly Questions’:

  • So what?
  • Who cares?
  • What’s in it for me?

As You Start To Write 

Please, talk directly to the reader – pretend that the person is seated in front of you and you are telling them about your firm or a specific practice group capability. It’s a dialogue, not a lecture.

Think back on some of the marketing basics you have mastered and apply them to this task, such as:

  • Know your audience, their needs, wants, expectations, peeves, industry home runs, industry mine fields and business trends before you even start drafting;
  • Concentrate on readability - this is your promotion show piece;
  • Ensure clarity of expression devoid of legalese, irrelevant adjectives, trite phrases and empty firm-interchangeable claims;
  • Distill the message about the practice to the key message points;
  • Break up text in your layout to make it easier to read and easier to recognize the key message point in each paragraph;
  • Include facts about experience (matters handled etc.) as reason for the reader to believe;
  • Client matter track record far outweighs conference presentations and article publication;
  • Have short fact based bios of those lawyers involved in the practice to substantiate the claims and benefits in the text;

Every Word Must Stand On Its Own Merit

Stop writing practice descriptions. Please stop thinking in functional service terms. Write your draft on regular lined paper or in a blank Word document on your computer. The reason for this is to have each word stand on its own merit and not be supported by an environment that could disguise blandness, generalities, superfluous descriptive or functional descriptive language. Avoid long, wordy sentences. Find something unique and interesting as your key focus point to stand out from all the other similar practices in the city/country/planet. You will get some great direction by actually talking with enthusiastic new clients and loyal long-term clients.

There Is No Generic Client

Remember that you are advertising your capabilities to potential buyers. You must appeal to their emotional drivers. This is not a legal brief. Don't slow your reader down in knee deep stodgy language. Try and avoid the 40-word, 7-comma paragraph. Don’t list every imaginable permutation of your skill in order to attract all possible business.  Remember, there is no generic client; each brings you their own problems and opportunities.

Flag Key Points

Headlines draw prospects into the text. But first reorganize the list of services offered and prioritize those that are really important (and profitable). Then rank the points of importance to the prospect within each.

There Must Be A Better Way

The challenge is to stand out as something special to your prospects without sounding worn-out. Don’t bore the reader by defaulting to such bombs as:

  • Client centered
  • We listen
  • Commitment to clients
  • Dedicated to assisting clients
  • Full range of services
  • Extensive experience (in significant cases; wide variety of transactions)
  • Active practice
  • Cost-effective service
  • Responsive
  • Regular basis
  • Variety of tribunals
  • Dedicated to achieving favourable results
  • Trusted advisor

Challenge everything you write down with the following questions:

  • So What?
  • Who Cares?
  • What’s In It For Me?
  • Why should I retain this firm? 

You will have a way better chance of making personal contact with a prospect if you talk to them on their own terms. The path of Finding and then ultimately Choosing is usually sealed by an emotional decision. Engage prospects early in the relationship effort.

Paul Kuttner and his business associate, David Taylor, CPA, assist law firms when their business progress is stuck or when the profitable management of their brand is stuck.

February, 2018 | Article

The Challenge of Low Vacancy Rates

The Future of the Workplace for Law Firms
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Lynn McGregor bio photo
Author Lynn R. McGregor

Those of us involved in the leasing and design of office space for legal firms, know that in the downtown Toronto area, vacant office space has been at a premium for quite some time now - demand has been outstripping supply. According to Rachelle Younglai, (commercial real estate reporter for The Globe and Mail):

“The city’s core already has the lowest vacancy rates in Canada and the United States, and little relief is expected until new office buildings start opening their doors in a few years.”

If lucky enough to find the necessary expansion space - expect a bidding war for it.  This means that wise office space users, including legal firms, need to be very creative in how they accommodate growth. In an age that idolizes spacious, light-filled open plan offices; employees are being convinced that this is the standard. All want their share of daylight and fresh air - (not a lot to ask!)  - but delivering this can be challenging when human density increases. 

How can we all manage to gracefully accommodate growth when not able to add the square footage we want?

Happily, there is no need to return to old age office models, where people are wedged into stuffy, dark spaces. There are indeed ways to accommodate growth within limited square footage; while ensuring the office space you provide is inspiring, supportive and memorable (in a good way). But it takes clever planning, and an investment in protective systems. Just a few of the professional tips we can offer:

1. Workplace / Workstation Standards Need Review:

We know of a tenant with this same challenge. They were landlocked in their space, but needed to integrate 30% more staff. Using Interior Design consultants with some pertinent experience, they managed to reduce the overall leased square footage by 25%, while adding the 30% staff growth. And this was done while improving the quality of the work environment for EVERY staff member. This included shared access to daylight and reducing ambient noise. This was done, using a different approach to both space planning and to the workstation standards. The cost of changing the workstations was nothing compared to the amount of money saved in long term rent. Each square foot of space, after the change, generated far more revenue than it had before. And, more importantly – the staff were happier.

2. Make Some Areas “Multi-Functional”: 

Review of all common, shared areas – to establish just how frequently the areas are used – and when they are used. This usually allows you to make a case for doubling up some functions. Whether it is making meeting room sizes changeable with moveable walls or using library contents as sound insulation by lining corridor walls that already exist – (there are so many ways to do this) - often space savings can be found. 

3. Don’t forget to add acoustical protection:

If the design of the space does not allow for empty negative space between people, (a critical element of successful open plan solutions), then create acoustical baffles in other ways. A detail that is often missed is the addition of critical ‘sound masking systems’. Originally used only on office floors with no partitions to stop the flow of sound; these systems are now understood to have broad, valuable application. Taking some of the money that you would have invested in increased square footage, and instead, supplying sound masking will help ensure a more successful project.

4. Respect Staff’s Need for a Private Moment: 

Everyone in today’s work force will from time to time, needs to make a private telephone call.  If staff are able to quickly make this call and get back to work – without the need to leave the office space - it is much better for the employer. The gesture of providing private staff areas for this function, will enhance the reputation of the firm as humane, and caring Employer.

5. The Use of Glazing to allow for the Sharing of Daylight:

Legal firm space generally includes offices on the perimeter, which can block daylight flow for others on the floor. If the firm culture can not tolerate glazed office fronts, then ensure every side to the floor contains a facility that can have a glazed front, such as a meeting room, offices for support staff such as clerks or students – to ensure at least one shaft of daylight will reach the staff who are not located on the perimeter.  

6. Respect Canada’s Privacy Laws with Housekeeping Protocols:

We all know that legal firms need to keep all client records under lock and key, to protect client confidentiality. If these rules are followed, all surfaces in offices, war rooms and shared meeting areas should be cleared at the end of each work session. Areas that are clean of debris and surplus file boxes, not only look larger and more professional; they are made available for spontaneous use by others. 

7. Quality of Lighting:

Using lighting that emulates the colour of daylight will help make the space seem larger and brighter, which is critical when density is high. Used in tandem with glazing will make the days seem brighter for those in the inner depths of the office. Also, use creative, sculptural lighting as space dividers or landmark, to create space definition.  This is a very creative way of tricking the eye to focus on an interesting vista, to see beyond the density.

8. Conference Calls:

One of the most serious source of frustration for staff in workstations, is office dwellers who make ‘hands-free’ conference calls. Even when the call takes place in a room with the door closed – the sound of yelling can disturb others. Consider supplying each floor with a small meeting room, located in an isolated area, for those who want to have a hands-free conference call.  It has worked well for other firms.

Lastly, do not forget that when faced with space challenges, your office space should strongly reinforce your brand message, and support your recruiting efforts. It may be a challenge, but it will be worth the professional effort!

Lynn McGregor is a registered architectural Interior Designer, and the Principal of McGregor Design Group, a Toronto based firm that specializes in workplace design, and accessibility consulting.

TLOMA Conference 2018 Leaderboard
February, 2018 | Article

Charismatic Communication for Coaches

C. Nadeau-O'Shea Article
Jerome Shore
Author Jerome Shore

If you coach someone else, and chances are that either formally or informally, you do, then you know that the way you communicate with your “coachees” is of paramount importance. Communication will make or break the relationship and stimulate success as much as any other factor. The coachee could be a client, an employee, a colleague, a friend or a family member.

Trust is the lifeblood of any coaching relationship. Your coachee must believe that you intend to look out for their best interests. Such trust means the coachee does not feel vulnerable to you in any way. It means that he or she can be open and unguarded so that whatever wisdom and direction you have to impart can get through, take hold and start to work.

Trust matures over time and coaches must earn it. Charismatic communication is one tool coaches can use to facilitate this process.

What is Charisma?

Charisma is a quality - a magnetic-like attraction. In the coachee, charisma provokes a feeling of wanting to be with his or her coach. Unlike trust, charisma is not the lifeblood of any coaching relationship. But it’s nice to have.

Here’s an overview of four ways to build charisma in a coaching relationship.

Charismatic listening and body language

Charismatic listening is like offering a welcoming empty space for someone to jump into without obstacles. It makes it easy for people to speak and feel they are being heard because it puts the focus entirely on the person being listened to. In fact, charismatic listeners don’t do anything else except to concentrate on listening, hearing and capturing what is being said.

Charismatic listening also involves several physical attributes. Making and keeping eye contact for example, or, when it is appropriate, smiling. A relaxed posture also invites confidence - unlike folded arms and crossed legs, which can signal boredom. And, of course, tone of voice is crucial to conveying empathy and interest. A coach who speaks slowly, with a monotonous tone, can appear distracted. Quicker speech signals enthusiasm for what is happening right now.

Curiosity and vocal acknowledgement are also attributes of charismatic listeners. Think of using curiosity to open up a space or topic for the speaker to fill. Use it to invite them in and, in the process, they’ll find you easy to talk to. Also acknowledge that you’ve heard what your coachee has said. This doesn’t necessarily mean you agree with it. It just means comforting the speaker with a gesture or a sound that confirms your interest.

Finally, the last step in charismatic listening is to avoid processing what you are hearing. Don’t judge it, prepare a response or analyze it. Your mind will store what you hear to work on it later. Avoiding processing frees you to listen with your total attention. The idea is to give people time to get deeply into their thoughts without rushing to get their words out or fearing your response.

Charismatic Cheerleading

Charismatic coaches consider that their coachees are works in progress. As such, they can always benefit from encouragement. The charismatic cheerleader focuses on what can be said to feed the coachee’s sense of self and champion his or her accomplishments. This gives the coachee the motivation to continue to grow.

Charismatic coaching takes empathy. The coach must think about the coachee’s thoughts, needs and feelings as they are occurring and make an effort to say just the right thing to energize the coachee to move forward and be heartened by their progress.

Charismatic Optimism

Charismatic coaches believe that success will come; it’s just a matter of finding the way. The charismatic coach, by continuously focusing on an inevitably successful outcome, conveys a “success is just around the corner feeling” to the coachee. Coaches must constantly and repeatedly focus on the solution and review the steps to get there. Never dwell on what’s wrong or isn’t working. Dwell only on what the next forward steps should be. Remember, success does not have to involve struggle - just a succession of steps roughly in the right direction.

Jerome Shore is an Executive Coach in Toronto, Canada. Clients to look to Jerome for help with Marketing, Leadership and Stress Management. He can be reached at or 1-416-787-5555.

February, 2018 | Member Spotlight

Member Spotlight - Patrick McFetridge

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Author Patrick McFetridge

At TLOMA, we provide education, professional development, mentorship, and support to our Membership. Through these initiatives, TLOMA members are offered both a professional and social network of professionals working in law firms of all sizes. To encourage members to grow their network at TLOMA, we would like to profile TLOMA members in each issue of TLOMA Today to give readers a snapshot of who we are within the legal industry.

How long have you been a member of TLOMA? Close to 15 years, I think.

Where do you work? Gowling WLG (Canada) LLP.

What do you enjoy most about working in the legal industry?  Having a peer group that I can ask questions and get advice from.

Where was the last place you vacationed? I have a place in Florida so I try to get down there as often as I can.

What was the last movie you saw? Star Wars- The Last Jedi. It stunk!!!

What is your favorite book? The Passage by Justin Cronin.

What is your favorite comfort food? Steak is my go to meal. Not sure if it is comfort food though.

What is your favorite artist/band you got to see live in concert? I am a big music fan so I go to a lot of shows and festivals. Pearl Jam would probably be my top choice.

What are your favorite hobbies? I play golf and cycle a bit.

If you were able to start a blog, what would it be about? Music.

You have been gifted with $10,000 …. the only catch is you have to spend it all within 24 hours… you can't use it to pay bills. What does your 24 hours spending spree include? Lots of new technology in my house.

If you are interested in participating in the Member Spotlight feature of TLOMA Today to share some of your experiences at TLOMA, please email for more information.

Patrick McFetridge has been the  Sr. Manager of Office Services and Facilities at Gowling Lafleur Henderson LLP since 2007.  Patrick manages a team of 25 in Facility Services, Mail/Print Centre, Food Services, Reception and Records Management. He is a dedicated team player with strong leadership skills.

Patrick is experienced in: Budgetary Planning, Vendor Sourcing, Large and Small Scale Moves, Joint Health and Safety, Office Ergonomics, Meeting Management, Supply Management and Contract Management.

In his personal time Patrick loves to golf, ski and is a big music fan.

February, 2018 | Movers and Shakers
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Movers and Shakers

New Members

Vidhi Acharya

Operations Manager

UL Injury and Disability Law PC

Diane Fisler

Human Resource/Office Manager

Paquette Travers Professional Corporation

Richard Ganpat

Manager of Accounting

Reisler Franklin LLP

Randee Himelfarb

Human Resources Manager

Himelfarb Proszanski LLP

Josephine Lee

Manager, Compensation & Recognition

PwC Management Services LP

Shujanaa Mahendrarajah

Administration Coordinator

Gardiner Roberts LLP


Sandra Hatcher-Maher

Office Manager

Strigberger Brown Armstrong LLP

Bernard Quilty

Senior Manager/Controller - Accounting

Schneider Ruggiero Spencer Milburn LLP


Diane Lapidus

Accountant/Office Manager

Smockum Zarnett LLP

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