Amanda Hunter from Hicks Morley in Toronto tells us about legal life in Canada and what opportunities are there for co-operation with UK law firms. Amanda is a speaker at the Law Society’s International Employment conference on 14 October.
Why did you decide to become a lawyer?
I wanted a career that I would find intellectually challenging and involve working with people. My other option was to pursue a Masters of Industrial Relations and a career in human resources. Becoming a labour and employment lawyer was the perfect fit.
Tell us about your firm
Hicks Morley is the largest boutique management side human resources law and advocacy law firm in Canada. It was founded in 1972 with 7 lawyers. We now have over 110 lawyers and are able to assist our clients with respect to all issues related to labour and employment- anything from minimum standards to workplace safety to pensions and complex wrongful competition litigation matters. Although our offices are in Ontario, we are able to serve clients across Canada either directly or through our network of law firms in other provinces.
What are the main challenges and opportunities for Canadian law firms as the legal services market becomes increasingly globalised?
The recent trend of global law firm mergers has affected many Canadian full service firms. As a boutique firm, we prefer to work in partnership with other firms to serve mutual clients. The trend towards global law firms has presented an opportunity for specialty boutique firms like ours. With over 110 lawyers, we can be trusted to offer highly responsive and seamless service whether through out counterparts at other firms or when working directly with the client.
What advice would you give to companies new to Canada?
Get yourself a good parka before winter! After that, it is imperative that you have a basic knowledge of your obligations as an employer before you hire your first employee. Developing your employment strategy from the outset will invaluably assist the transition to the Canadian marketplace.
What opportunities are there between Canadian and UK law firms?
It is mutually beneficial to be able to recommend to clients needing advice in other jurisdictions local experts whose advice you trust and who strive to provide exceptional client service.
Finally, what are your recommendations for visitors to Toronto?
Toronto is a vibrant, multicultural city with so many things to do. If I could only recommend one thing, I would have to say take a trip up the CN Tower and see the whole City from 350 metres up. If you are feeling adventurous, try the Edge Walk and lean right out to get a closer look.