The latest litigation news involving the law firm Heenan Blaikie. Search. Advanced Search Management Banking Bankruptcy Benefits California Cannabis Capital Markets Class. Apr 02, · But since my second reading of Breakdown—which followed conversations with various former Heenan Blaikie lawyers (including my wife, who worked at the firm as an associate from to )—I’ve been inclined to view Bonhomme more karacto.xyz a greater extent than Heenan, Daechsel, or even Bacal, he realized how badly out of sync the firm was with the culture of large, Author: Jonathan Kay. Feb 03, · Heenan Blaikie is the latest victim of a slowdown in Canadian corporate deal-making activity. The law firm—one of Canada’s biggest--plans a major restructuring.
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But what makes the Heenan Blaikie story unusual is that it does not involve any of the elements that typically spark the sudden and spectacular collapse of any big company. No large-scale scandal, no allegations of criminal conduct, no scheme to cook the books. The first departures were high-level partners taking advantage of offers from competing firms. But many of those who followed left for no other reason than to beat others to the door. It was a bank run, in other words: just as account holders at a financial institution become more likely to demand their funds when they see neighbours withdrawing their life savings, so, too, did Heenan Blaikie partners scuttle to the exits, hoping to get their partnership equity back.
The stragglers were the ones who lost the most. Or near as much: he had a short-lived prior stint selling vacuum cleaners. But he was in the room for almost every major decision that led to the breakup, and even launched a doomed, eleventh-hour effort to save the firm in its final months. W hen it was first established forty-four years ago, Johnston, Heenan, and Blaikie—as it was known then—might have seemed like a standard WASP enterprise.
But by the conservative standards of the legal industry in the s, its founders were visionaries. From first to last, Heenan Blaikie never had a partnership agreement. The firm was built on a handshake and a five-minute conversation at the University Club in Their bond was based on trust and collegiality, not the shared hunt for lucre. Tax lawyers are some of the biggest nerds of the legal world.
As a former tax lawyer, I am allowed to say this. And Bacal was a true purebred. I was certain of that from the first day of second-year law school. It was Bacal who helped invent and then reinvent the fantastically lucrative corporate structures that, Producers style, allowed Canadian film investors to make money even when a movie flopped.
Unfortunately for the firm, changes to Canadian tax law killed this cash cow in , and the firm struggled to develop new, equally profitable specialties.
But, in truth, Breakdown provides little in the way of high drama. Nevertheless, it is interesting to read a veteran lawyer such as Bacal explain the messy way that he and his partners made collective decisions. In the early days of the firm, these men and women were able to steer Heenan Blaikie on the basis of consensus and goodwill.
Everyone says they hate bureaucracy. Yet chairman Roy Heenan believed that the publication of such numbers would engender petty money-grubbing.
In keeping with old-school law-firm protocol, Heenan Blaikie rarely fired poorly performing partners outright. Instead, they were discreetly asked to find employment elsewhere, and typically would be given months, or even years, to wrap up their tenure. He was seventy-eight at the time the firm fell apart. Many of the Montreal partners, on the other hand, were prepared to leave the whole matter to the executive committee, and objected to the puritanical zeal of their Toronto counterparts.
Heenan Blaikie is far from the only Canadian company to have seen internal business operations become tribalized on the basis of language. Yet the subject is not something spoken about much in polite Canadian corporate circles.