Creating a Destination for Legal Services: A Tenant Talks Recap | Tenant Talks

Aura recently hosted another virtual Tenant Talks event, this time on the topic of creating a destination for legal services especially in Canada. Our expert panelists talked about how their companies are bringing staff back to the office and navigating new hybrid workplace arrangements.

We had representatives from Charest Legal Solutions, Borden Ladner Gervais (BLG), R. Johnson Legal Recruitment, and Fasken. Rocky Ozaki, founder & CEO of NoW of Work moderated our conversation. 

The discussion was thought-provoking and provided a lot of good insight into how legal firms in Canada are returning to the office using hybrid work models. 

Read on to learn more! Are you more of a watcher than a reader? Watch the full event here.


Question #1: To add some context and background to our discussion, what is the current state of your workforce?


Spencer Charest, Owner at Charest Legal Solutions, said that some staff that have been in-office almost the entire pandemic, but the large space they have has allowed them to adhere to social distancing regulations

​​Richard Savage, Associate at Fasken said that they are currently on a company-wide schedule where employees come into the office three days per week, a schedule that began in September. 

Kimberly MacMillian, Partner/Director of Recruitment at R. Johnson Legal Recruitment, is one of just four people at their office, all of whom made the personal choice to return to the office back in June of 2020. She also said that all interviews with potential candidates are done virtually through Zoom

Steve Winder, Regional Managing Partner of the Vancouver Office at BLG, said that they are slowly returning to the office on a hybrid schedule where staff must come in two days per week, or more if their job calls for it.

As you can see, the panelists each had varying methods for returning to the office based on what works best for the company and staff

Question 2: What is your staff looking for that will attract them back to the office? What benefits do you expect to see from bringing staff back to the office?


  • Flexibility, safety, and, social connection
  • The ability to have spontaneous, informal face-to-face meetings
  • Prioritizing safety, thinking especially about immunocompromised staff 


As a recruiter, Kimberly sees three things that most people are looking for in order to return to the office: flexibility, safety, and social connection. And along those same lines, she sees the social connection as a huge benefit for people who have been working from home for so long. 

“There’s tons of studies that show that face-to-face is just a richer form of communication because you can read body language and it happens more spontaneously,” Kimberly says. 

Through an internal poll, Richard learned that his staff was most interested in access to parking so they don’t have to use public means of transportation, given the current pandemic

Richard also talked about the ideas that Kimberly introduced, and the fact that spontaneous, informal discussions can often provide a lot of good collaboration and insight that planned, virtual meetings often cannot. 

Spencer went more in depth about the importance of safety, especially for immunocompromised employees. He said that their office is able to achieve this through vaccination mandates and adhering to social distancing guidelines. 


Questions #3: Shifting gears to the client experience: How has the client experience changed, and how do you think clients could benefit from more action in the office?


  • Giving clients space during meetings; not meeting in small, cramped areas
  • Zoom is here to stay


Spencer kicked off the discussion for this question. He talked about the things he hears from clients a lot which is, “How much space do you have?” and “How large is your office?” It shows his firm that clients are still concerned with safety and adhering to social distancing, so they can accommodate to that.

There was also a lot of discussion around Zoom and all the panelists agreed that it was here to stay, regardless of the potential benefits that face-to-face meetings can provide their clients. 

Questions #4: How do we create immersive experiences for your entire staff with some working from home and some in-office?


  • Making it more than just a place with a desk
  • Work on improving the culture
  • Open door policy


At BLG, Steve said that they are working on improving the culture by bringing more “fun” to the office with events, building connections, and fostering a sense of collegiality. 

Richard says that they have always had an open-door policy but now they try to make it as informal as possible, so that anyone can approach their manager by their preferred means (whether that’s in person or via Slack or Zoom). 


Question #5: How do you plan on changing the design of your workplace to create a destination for your teams to thrive?


  • Expanding in areas that need it; downsizing in areas with less business
  • Desk-sharing and hoteling options


Richard said that through the pandemic, they’ve seen a shift in which offices get more business versus the ones that don’t. Trends are showing that people moved out of big cities and now live in more suburban areas, so the more suburban law offices are gaining traction

Kimberly said that she has noticed a pattern in her clients where they have been moving towards offices with hoteling, or desk-share opportunities

What a great discussion by our experts! To hear the complete discussion, along with the polls, audience Q&A, and panelist rapid fire answers, watch the entire event here

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