WHAT MAKES BROWNLEE DIFFERENT FROM OTHER FIRMS?
The answer is both simple and profound. Brownlee is organized differently than most firms, and this organization influences everything from the mentorship you’ll receive as a student right up to your client relationships. We believe that this is why Canadian Lawyer Magazine acknowledged Brownlee LLP as one of the “Best in the West”, – one of the top ten regional law firms in western Canada.
At Brownlee we have a unique approach. As opposed to the more traditional structures of and approaches to the operation of law firms, we treat our clients as if they are clients of the firm, not of any particular lawyer. This ensures that we are much more than a collection of practitioners (even sole practitioners) working under one name. Rather, we are an organized legal business, not only in name but in all aspects of how we practice and interact with each other under one name. In our experience, this approach to the operation of our firm nourishes mentorship, best serves clients and client needs, and promotes the development of strong, healthy internal relationships.
Under the “firm client” approach, and our resulting organization into practice groups, each lawyer is encouraged to develop an expertise in his or her practice areas of interest, which ought to be areas of practice in which they have a personal interest or even a passion to pursue. This client-centred philosophy allows our lawyers to more quickly become experts in each of their chosen fields and be constantly engaged and invested in their work and interests, and also ensures that lawyers are not required to “dabble” in other areas of the law in order to meet clients’ needs. Because more traditional approaches to legal businesses often measure a lawyer’s worth to the firm by the clients he or she keeps or keeps happy, that lawyer may be and often is expected, motivated, or even required by the circumstances to meet all needs of the clients, and may consequently become a jack-of-all-trades for the clients. Our approach provides each client with an expert to work with him or her on the particular issue or concern. Our clients know that when they contact Brownlee, they can contact any one of us and that they will be referred to the practice group, and ultimately the specific lawyer, who is best able to address their legal needs.
Our structure isn’t just good for our clients – it’s good for our students too. As a student at Brownlee, you will work with a team of lawyers invested in your development as a lawyer. Instead of becoming a single cog in a larger wheel and a potential future competitor within the firm and the community of clients that you are exposed to, our approach emphasizes the successes of the team and the firm in general. Because our lawyers are focussed on their practice areas, you will have the opportunity to be mentored by some of the leading practitioners in these fields. Best of all, because of our client-centred philosophy, the lawyers at our firm want you to become skilled and develop close contact with clients. This ensures that you can help build upon the successes achieved to date, allowing the senior practitioner to pass the torch to the more junior lawyers. This also ensures that the senior practitioners have the support needed to allow them to take up new opportunities, and further develop existing or new practice areas for the firm. Our students and junior associates are encouraged to focus on their own education and development by our approach to the business of law, not merely to focus on client recruitment or, worse yet, on competing with each other. Because our clients are “firm clients”, there’s room for everyone to succeed. We have seen that this structure fosters a philosophy of collaboration and cooperation rather than competition, which is best for our students and lawyers, as well as our clients.